At Kent, you study all aspects of forensic science, developing scientific and analytical skills. We create ‘crime scenes’ - including using our brand new crime scene house - for you to examine and conduct ‘major incident’ exercises, where you react in real time to an unfolding event. We also demonstrate how your forensic skills can be used within archaeology and in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
As a foundation year student, you are a full member of the University and can take part in all student activities.
Our degree programme
This programme is for science students who do not meet the requirements for direct entry to Stage 1 of our degree programmes. It is also an excellent conversion course for applicants who have shown academic ability in non-science subjects. We also consider applicants without traditional academic qualifications who have relevant professional experience.
In your foundation year, you study chemistry, mathematics and take part in practical classes. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will have reached a standard above A level and so be fully equipped to tackle the BSc degree course.
In your first year of the BSc, you get to grips with the broad base of knowledge on which forensic science is built, including biochemistry, drug chemistry, and ballistics. You also develop your investigative and laboratory skills.
In your second and final years, you expand your knowledge to cover analytical chemistry, forensic archaeology, digital forensics, fires and explosions, and firearms. You also study criminal law (taught by Kent’s highly ranked Law School) and are trained in forensic expert witness skills. In certain modules, you are taught by industry specialists.
Forensic Science student Sophia Warner explains what it's like studying at the University of Kent.
Year in industry
Many students choose to extend their degree programme with a year in industry. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply: see Forensic Science with a Year in Industry.
We recently invested £10 million in our laboratories and improved our general study spaces. Facilities to support forensic science include:
dedicated ballistics and firearms kitnew crime scene house with a number of rooms set up with a number of scenarios to allow you to apply the theory of crime scenes, evidence recovery and fingerprintinga document examination instrument used in the detection of forged documentsa full analytical suite for forensic chemical analysis, including:Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS)Raman SpectrometryFourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrometry (FTIR)Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).
The School of Physical Sciences is home to an international scientific community of forensic science, chemistry, physics and astronomy students. Numerous formal and informal opportunities for discussion make it easy to participate in the academic life of the School. All students have an academic adviser and we also run a peer mentoring scheme.
You are encouraged to participate in conferences and professional events to build up your knowledge of the science community and enhance your professional development. The School also works collaboratively with business partners, which allows you to see how our research influences current practice.
You can also take part in:
the School’s Physical Sciences Colloquia, a popular series of talks given by internal and external experts on relevant and current topicsthe student-run Forensic Science Society, which organises talks with top industry professionals, practical demonstrations and social events
All students are offered free membership of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
The School of Physical Sciences also has links with:
the Home Officethe Forensic Explosives Laboratoryforensic science serviceslocal health authoritiesbiotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the UK and EuropeInterpol.
There are approximately eight one-hour lectures each week, laboratory classes, project work and problem-solving seminars.
Assessment is by a combination of written examinations, continuous assessment and other assignments. You must pass the Stage 1 examinations in order to go on to Stage 2. Coursework assessments include incident analysis, evidence preservation, presentation skills and expert witness testimony.
Please note that you must pass all modules of the foundation year in order to progress onto stage 1.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- Core and foundation scientific physical, biological, and chemical concepts, terminology, theory, units, conventions, and laboratory methods in relation to forensic science.
- Areas of chemistry as applied to forensic analysis, and areas of bioscience, including cells, biochemistry, human DNA.
- Numeracy, forensic investigation and interpretation and apply them to forensic examination and analysis.
- Incident investigation, evidence recovery, preservation, and presentation as an expert witness within the judicial environment.
You gain intellectual skills in how to:
- Demonstrate knowledge, understanding and application of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the subject to find the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems.
- Recognise and analyse novel problems and plan strategies for their solution by the evaluation, interpretation and synthesis of scientific information and data by a variety of computational methods.
- Recognise and implement good measurement science and practice and commonly used forensic laboratory techniques.
- Write essays and present scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences including legal contexts.
- Communicate complex scientific argument to a lay audience.
You gain the following subject-specific skills:
- Safe handling of chemical materials, taking into account their physical and chemical properties, including any specific hazards associated with their use and to risk assess such hazards.
- Conduct of standard laboratory procedures involved in analytical work and in the operation of standard forensic instrumentation.
- Competence in the planning, design and execution of investigations, from the problem-recognition stage through to the evaluation and appraisal of results and findings.
- Safe handling of firearms, ammunition, and propellants; analysis of forensic evidence related to firearms, firearm discharge, and ballistic theory; collision analysis: mathematical interpretation, field application and reconstruction.
- Ability to interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements, and to present such data to an examining body in the role of expert witness.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- Communication skills covering both written and oral communication.
- Self-management and organisational skills with the capacity to support life-long learning.
- Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information.
- Information-retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources.
- IT skills.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Time-management and organisational skills.
- Study skills needed for continuing professional development and preparation for employment as a practicing forensic scientist.
- Ability to plan and implement independent projects at degree level.
The programme aims to:
- Instil enthusiasm for forensic science, an appreciation of its application in different contexts.
- Provide a broad and balanced foundation of the science and law that underpins forensic practice and methodology in a modern society.
- Develop knowledge of the key skills, concepts, theories and practice that underpin forensic science in order to prepare you for stage one of the undergraduate programme.
- Develop the ability to apply knowledge and skills to the solution of forensic problems.
- Teach you the use and understanding of a variety of scientific and quantitative techniques applied to forensic science problems.
- Provide a knowledge and skills base from which you can proceed to further studies in the forensic and scientific area or in aspects of chemistry, physics or bioscience that are relevant to forensic and related practices.
- Provide a stimulating, research-active environment for teaching and learning.
- Provide an understanding of scientific methodology and the ability to undertake and report on an experimental investigation.
- Generate an appreciation of the importance of forensic science and its practice in a judicial, industrial, economic, environmental and social context, and of the importance of chemistry in an industrial, economic, forensic, and social context.