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.
This programme is fully accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. All students on the programme are offered free student membership for the duration of their degree.
Our degree programme
In your first year, 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 third 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.
In the final year of your MSci programme, you develop your skills and knowledge further by undertaking a research project and exploring how to develop an idea into a fully worked-up research proposal.
If you do not have the grades for direct entry on to the Forensic Science MSci, you can take Forensic Science with a Foundation Year. It is also possible to take the three-year Forensic Science BSc (Hons).
Forensic Science student Sophia Warner explains what it's like studying at the University of Kent.
Year in industry
Many students choose to take 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 kitscene-of-crime facilities that 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.
Teaching involves a combination of 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 there are degree thresholds at stages 2 and 3 that you will be required to pass in order to continue onto the next stages.
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.
- Advanced theory, concepts and practice in the forensic field.
- 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.
- Command, management and logistics of major incidents such as air or rail accidents; emergency and disaster planning.
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 solve forensic-related problems at an advanced level.
- Recognise and implement good measurement science and practice and commonly used forensic laboratory techniques.
- Select the most appropriate techniques for a given analysis and to use a wide range of advanced apparatus.
- Write essays and present scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences including in 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 risk assessment of such hazards.
- Conduct of standard laboratory procedures involved in analytical work and 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.
- Research project planning and implementation.
- 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.
- Evidence recovery, preservation, analysis and presentation to professional standards.
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.
- Skills in effective research costing and planning.
- Study skills needed for continuing professional development and preparation for employment as a practising forensic scientist.
- Skills relevant to a career in forensic science (practice or judiciary) and forensic research.
- Ability to plan and implement large-scale independent projects at MSci level.
The programme aims to:
- Instil enthusiasm for forensic science and 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
- Extend this knowledge and practical ability to an advanced level in selected specialist area and subjects
- 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, based in part on an extended research project
- Prepare you for a professional role in forensic science within the criminal or civil judicial system, with the skill necessary to present evidence
- Generate an appreciation of the importance of forensic science and chemistry, 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.