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Forensic Science (MSc)

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  • Entry requirements
    Standard Entry You should possess a minimum of a lower second class honours science (chemistry or biology) based degree or equivalent. If you are an overseas applicant, you should be able to demonstrate competence in the English language to a level equivalent to IELTS 6.5.
  • Academic Title
    Forensic Science (MSc)
  • Course description
    This programme is aimed at those from traditional science subjects (ie the Chemical or Biological Sciences) and aims to build on the scientific knowledge gained at undergraduate level and focus, apply and extend this knowledge and its associated skills into specialist areas in Forensic Sciences (you can choose either Forensic Chemistry or Forensic Biology).

    Forensic Science covers a wide range of scientific disciplines in criminal detection. This Masters degree covers subject material drawn from a unique combination of forensic chemistry and biology. The course will introduce you to the underlying principles of the themes of biological and chemical analysis, which are then developed in their applications to Forensic Science as well as the management of Forensic Science within the investigation process and the Criminal Justice System.

    You will be able to explore and develop a critical understanding of the place and role of scientific expertise and skills in a wider forensic and social context, focusing on specialist topics in forensic chemistry (eg trace evidence, toxicology) and in forensic biology (eg anatomy, DNA, body fluid analysis).

    The MSc will enhance your career opportunities in the analytical science sector. It may also be useful for those individuals within the Police or Scientific Support with an appropriate first degree. It will enable you to take full advantage of opportunities that will ensue from the expansion of this area and/or prepare you for further academic research.

    Core modules:
    Critical Processes in Forensic Science
    This module is specifically designed as an overview of the key processes in forensic science covering crime scene investigation, laboratory analysis and Court presentation. Discussion will centre around the Criminal Justice System, the roles and responsibilities of personnel, chain of custody, crime scene investigation, evidence recovery and specialist areas of expertise eg DNA, body fluid detection, bulk drug analysis, culminating in interpretation of analytical findings with the production of reports and presentation of evidence in Court.

    Management of Forensic Science
    This module is designed to critically evaluate the delivery of forensic science to the Criminal Justice system (CJS). For those involved with the delivery and/or procurement of forensic science there is a requirement to understand the needs of the CJS and associated standards (accreditation, quality assurance, validation). This module reviews the overall management of forensic science from the demands upon the individual scientist to the overall contribution made to society.

    Hand in hand with scientific and technological advances often come ethical dilemmas and associated issues. This module will raise your awareness of a range of ethical dilemmas and issues that stem from the impact of science and technology on society. The module demonstrates ethics methodologies, which can be used to make or defend ethical decisions or recommendations.

    Graduate Research Methods
    This module will provide you with an opportunity to develop your skills in the use of literature and quantitative methods. You will be able to evaluate and contribute to scientific literature and interpret and disseminate scientific information as well as assessing scientific data and tests of hypotheses.

    MSc Project
    This module will allow you to engender a spirit of enquiry into a substantial research-based project in your specialist discipline. Here, you will apply the knowledge and skills obtained in previous modules in a range of IT, literature-based or lab-based projects. All projects will include development of research skills and discussion of results as well as an opportunity to compose a written dissertation.

    Optional modules: two of the following modules (subject to first degree discipline);
    Examination of Trace Evidence
    Forensic Trace evidence will be explored focusing on evidence collection, current analytical techniques (eg XRF, FTIR, AAS, EDX) and the evaluation and interpretation of the evidence in context to forensic science. The interpretation and statistical significance of the results will be critically evaluated, as will report writing and expert opinion.

    Forensic Toxicology
    This module explores key themes in forensic toxicology - analytical toxicology, current issues, interpretation and novel approaches to the discipline. The focus of the module is research based to include for example, post-mortem drug redistribution, tolerance, genotoxicity, where you will be able to critically evaluate the impact of existing methodologies, interpret experimental data and apply this knowledge.

    Anatomy: Case Studies of Physical Trauma
    This module explores basic and applied anatomy of the human body and is delivered through the practical application of this knowledge in determining the effects of physical trauma on the body. You will be able to critically evaluate your understanding of the causes and effects of physical trauma.

    Interpretation of Forensic Biology
    This module builds upon body fluid examination techniques (taught in the core modules) and reviews the evaluation and interpretation of the evidence within the context of a major crime investigation. You will explore how advances in science are contributing to evidence enhancement and recovery techniques both at the scene and in the laboratory. In addition, the use of databases and other investigative tools will be evaluated as will the merits of other biology based evidence types encountered at a crime scene, for example entomology and archaeology.


    Year 1 Modules

    CH0564 MSc Project (60) (CORE, 60 Credits)

    CH0920 Bioethics (M) (CORE, 20 Credits)

    CH0923 Graduate Science Research Methods (CORE, 20 Credits)

    CH0947 Examination of Trace Evidence (OPTION, 20 Credits)

    CH0948 Forensic Toxicology (OPTION, 20 Credits)

    CH0951 Critical Processes in Forensic Science (CORE, 20 Credits)

    CH0952 The Management of Forensic Science (CORE, 20 Credits)

    CH0564 MSc Project (60) (CORE, 60 Credits)

    Assessment of the modules is varied and will utilise formal examinations, reports of laboratory investigations, written and oral presentations and viva voce exams, case studies and portfolios, observational assessment and pc based methodologies.

    Careers may include entry into the Analytical Sciences or for those who wish to pursue further studies in the subject area, for example at PhD level. Direct entry into the Forensic Science Sector (with specialism in either Forensic Chemistry or Forensic Biology) is possible although places are limited.

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