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Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

What is Unistats?

Image: Forensic Science COURSE INFORMATION (2014 ENTRY)

3 years full-time or 4 years sandwich

Health and Life Sciences
Ellison Building, Newcastle City Campus

Forensic Science covers a wide range of scientific disciplines applied in a legal context. A forensic scientist examines items of evidential value and presents their findings in court. They work within a specific area of expertise such as forensic biology, which includes, for example, blood pattern analysis and DNA interpretation and forensic chemistry which includes, for example, drug analysis and paint/glass examination.

Forensic scientists may be called on to attend scenes of crime to apply their specific knowledge in a potentially hostile environment and collect items of potential evidential value. They will utilise analytical techniques based on the sub-disciplines of biology and chemistry to interpret these samples. They will then produce a written (expert witness) statement which explains those findings in 'layman’s terms' for the judge and jury.

The Forensic Science BSc (Hons) benefits from specialist teaching staff of former forensic scientists and places a strong emphasis on 'hands on' laboratory work. You will also have access to a former Magistrates Court to participate in mock court sessions.

Core themes of pure and applied sciences are taught in the context of forensic science. The three key areas of forensic investigation:-

Crime scene investigation

Laboratory analysis

Court presentation

are embedded throughout, which will allow you to explore all areas thoroughly before embarking on a career choice.

Support through a thorough grounding in theoretical aspects, provides the skills, knowledge and problem solving abilities required for a successful career in industry, teaching, research and other careers where scientific skills are valued.

In the third year you may wish to undertake an optional work placement to enhance your future career prospects and gain valuable work experience.

The final year project is a chance for you to explore, in greater detail, an aspect of emerging forensic science and benefits from the expertise of specialist staff members.


The programme is delivered via a range of lectures, seminars, tutorials and IT sessions. These are complemented by practical and laboratory activity, which accounts for over 30% of the delivery. This emphasis on practical laboratory analysis provides a strong laboratory foundation in a wide range of methodologies and practical skills using state-of-the-art instrumentation. The teaching practices are designed to develop the transferable skills expected of a science graduate, particularly with regard to communication and presentation of the results of investigations as well as IT skills.


You'll mainly be assessed through coursework, such as essays, laboratory reports, case studies, data analysis, presentations (providing oral and ‘expert witness’ testimony), individual portfolios and project work which may include laboratory or practical elements. There are some examinations.


Graduates have employment prospects in the vocational forensic sciences as well as within the Police services (including Crime Scene Investigation) due to the inclusion of legal aspects of the discipline within the programme.

The extensive study of the relevant applied sciences ensures that graduates are equipped for careers in Analytical Science in areas as diverse as the pharmaceutical industry and environmental agencies. The programme also leads to continued academic study to MSc or PhD level, specifically within forensic science, or a range of related applied sciences.

The optional placement year provides further development of an appreciation of science in an industrial, commercial, or service-based context whilst enhancing students’ facilities for independent and team work, communication skills, time-management as well as a range of other people- and life-skills.  


Course Staff
The course benefits from specialist teaching staff of former forensic scientists and places a strong emphasis on 'hands on' laboratory work. Subject specialists are utilised throughout the course from areas such as biology, chemistry, mathematics and law. Visiting lecturers who are current forensic practitioners are also involved in course delivery and programme development.

Northumbria University hosts national and international conferences to which you may be invited to attend, such as the 2010 ‘How to Survive a Difficult Decade’ Forensic Science Conference and the Higher Education Academy Special Interest Group, ‘Practical Projects in Forensic Science’. You will also be encouraged to attend events outside the University.

Further Study
Upon successful completion of the degree, you may wish to look into further study. There are many different types of Postgraduate Courses that may interest you such as:

- MSc in Analytical Sciences (various)

- MSc in Forensic Science

- PhD Sciences (various)

- PGCE (primary and Secondary-Science)

- Conversion course in Law.


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Northumbria University has taken reasonable care to ensure that the information published is accurate at the time of publication. However, the University gives no warranty or representation as to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the information.