BSc (Hons) Forensic ScienceSouthwark Campus
This course covers crime scene analysis and the interpretation of evidence. Theory is matched by practical work and at each level there is the opportunity to pursue your own investigations.
Why Forensic Science at LSBU?
- Great teaching: Staff members are experts in their respective fields.
- Accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
- Close professional links with police and fire services, who regularly provide guest lecturers.
- Our specialised facilities have an extensive range of analytical instrumentation dedicated to forensic science students.
- Top 10 in the UK for academic support (National Student Survey 2019).
Forensic science is the application of scientific techniques to crime investigation with the presentation of evidence in a court of law. This course covers:
- investigative science
- weapons technology
- DNA analysis
- scenes of crime investigation
- forensic indicators
- explosion and fire
The art of delivering and communicating your results as a forensic expert is developed by mock courtroom sessions during the course.
- Introduction to Forensic Science
This module is designed to introduce you to the scope and nature of forensic science. One of the main themes through this introductory module is to emphasise the various roles that fall under the forensic science remit and the skills required to perform well in a forensic science laboratory. The module is aimed at students with a basic knowledge of forensic science and aims to enhance this background knowledge. You'll begin the lecture course by appreciating the relevance and application of the role of forensic science in the wider context. This module provides a general overview of what areas may be introduced over the three year degree course. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Scientific Skills This module will provide you with a foundation for the study of science at undergraduate level. The basis for the module will be the context, planning and execution of experimental work, along with analysis and presentation of experimental data. A substantial component of study will involve activities in effective written communication and the writing of laboratory reports in particular. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Fundamentals of Measurement and Instrumentation
This module centres on the basic skills that all scientists need to be conversant with. It comprises a series of laboratory workshops that give practical experience in the areas of physics. It also introduces one of the central principles of forensic science, that of quantitative measurements and their interpretation and manipulation. The theoretical component of the module is based around understanding the measurement process, the significance of the measurement units and the mathematical manipulation of the data obtained to produce results of use to the analyst. The relevant mathematical skills needed to achieve this will be provided within the module. You'll also be introduced to the main types of electronic measurement transducer and the electrical measurement principles needed to understand the measurement function. On completion of the module, you'll have acquired knowledge in the application of basic mathematical concepts in the treatment and interpretation of measured data, covering areas such as geometry and special measurements, algebraic formulation and manipulation, graphical analysis, statistics and calculus. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Biology of the Cell
This is an introductory module providing a foundation for further studies in all areas of biology and biosciences. You'll be introduced to the cellular organisation of living organisms and you'll explore the organisation and functions of eukaryotic cells. You'll focus on the regulation of cellular homeostasis and metabolism, including the flow of energy and genetic information, cell death, renewal and differentiation and their relation to human health and disease. In addition, you'll be introduced to current research approaches and methods for studying cells and manipulating genes. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Core and Materials Science
This is an introductory unit providing a foundation in physical sciences relevant to the study of forensic science. The first part of the unit will introduce you to the nature of matter. The second part of the module will look at the classification of materials, including their physical and chemical nature, and will contextualise this in terms of forensic science. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Introduction to Law for Forensic Scientists
This module is designed to introduce you to the English legal system. It will look at the main sources of law, the hierarchy of the court system and the doctrine of precedent. It will consider the role of Parliament in the creation of statutes, the rules which are applied to interpret those statutes and the role of the European Institutions. As an example of a statute, this module will look at police powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The module will also study the structure and the personnel of the legal profession, including the judiciary, the role of lay persons such as magistrates and jurors, the procedure followed at trial and the purposes and scope of sentencing. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Explosion, Fire and Firearms
This module will introduce you to fire investigation and fire dynamics, explosions and explosives, and firearms discharge. The main theme linking all aspects of the course is chemical energy release through the oxidative process termed combustion. Explosions are very rapid oxidations and bullets are propelled by an explosive charge normally called a propellant. The course has three main themes:
fire dynamics in buildings and fire investigation, explosives and explosions, propellants and ballistics. This course of study is relevant to both incident investigation and criminal investigation. For example, the origin of explosion and fire may point towards criminal intent or may simply be caused by accidental events or negligence. This module will also introduce the analysis of incidents where firearms discharge has occurred, including analysis of firearm discharge residues. The module is supported by laboratory work. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists
This module is designed to introduce you to criminal law. That is, to introduce non-law students to the basic principles of criminal procedure and liability, exploring the statutory and common law sources on which the law is based. You'll be guided through a linear approach to the operation of the criminal process, starting with the institutions and terminology of the criminal law, through the law relating to police powers and aspects of substantive criminal law. Assessment methods: 30% coursework, 70% exam.
- Marks and Traces
This module will provide you with a basic understanding of the approach and investigation of a crime scene and will provide you with practical knowledge of different types of marks and traces evidence that may be encountered at a crime or other scene. As any object may become physical evidence during a forensic investigation, the module will provide the knowledge on how to search for, recognise, collect, package, preserve, analyse and report upon marks and trace evidence. The concepts of forensic identification, forensic individualisation and forensic documentation will each assume a prominent role. The module consists of both lectures and laboratory practical sessions. The theory for each evidence type will be taught in the lecture sessions and then you'll be expected to carry out laboratory examinations and analysis of the relevant evidence type. The laboratory practicals are recorded using documentation similar to that used in operational forensic laboratories, and the final product will be a written witness statement for a court of law, which will be used to complete a mock courtroom exercise. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Forensic Biology
This module will introduce some of the biological materials that can be used as evidence in forensic casework. The module will cover the following:
* A range of presumptive tests for body fluids. You'll gain practical experience of using these tests during laboratory sessions.
* The nature and morphology of human and animal hairs. You'll investigate the differences between animal and human hairs in the laboratory.
* The use of immunoassays in forensic science. You'll use ELISA to detect controlled substances in mock body fluid samples.
* The historical use of serology in forensic science. you'll utilise serological techniques to determine if samples are human or animal, and the species of that animal.
* Aspects of forensic entomology and the Body Farm in Texas.
* An introduction to anthropological techniques used in forensic science.
* An introduction into the role of wildlife and plants in criminal investigations. You'll study a range of pollens and diatoms in the laboratory.
The knowledge gained from this module will prepare you for the Biological Evidence module at Level 6. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Research Methods
This module is intended to develop your understanding of the research process in the area of applied human sciences. It will provide you with knowledge about main research principles and methodologies for data collection and analysis. You'll gain practical experience in developing a research proposal and analysing data with parametric and non-parametric statistical methods, using both MS Excel and IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Measurement and Instrumentation in Forensic Analysis
Modern analytical laboratories house a wide range of analytical instrumentation, which facilitates the detection of a vast array of analytes and, often, their quantification down to PPB (part per billion) or PPT (part per trillion) levels. Irrespective of how sophisticated the instrumentation may be, if it's not used correctly, the results obtained will, at best, be of questionable reliability. It's thus essential that the analyst understands the limitations of each method. This module aims to explain the theoretical basis underpinning the main classes of analytical instrumentation found in most analytical laboratories. You'll be given examples of the applications of each technique, together with explanations of the calculations required in order to interpret the results. You'll gain hands-on experience in the use of most of the methods. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Incident Investigation
This module is designed to give you detailed knowledge and a good insight into the field of incident investigation. It will give a formal grounding in those techniques of risk analysis necessary to predict the probability and magnitude of an accident, and will discuss the anatomy of several prominent accidents to exemplify accident analysis, reconstruction and determination of root cause.
This module will also introduce you to fire investigation and fire dynamics, explosions and explosives. This course of study is relevant to both accident investigation and criminal investigation e.g. the origin of explosion and fire may point towards criminal intent or may simply be caused by accidental events or negligence. This module will also introduce the analysis of incidents where firearms discharge has occurred, including analysis of firearm discharge residues. The module is supported by laboratory work. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Biological Evidence
This module will involve teaching on the procedures and evidential material commonly encountered at scenes of crime against the person such as rape, murder and assault. The teaching will consist of both lectures and practical laboratory sessions. In-depth lectures on topics such as body fluids, hairs and fibres, blood pattern analysis and identification techniques will provide you with a sound theoretical knowledge base on which to build your practical experience. This theory will then be applied to laboratory examinations of biological evidence. The main aim of the module is to demonstrate the types of evidence commonly found in crimes against the person and to provide you with practical experience in the analysis, interpretation and reporting of this evidence. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Case Assessment and Interpretation
Any individual who practices within the field of forensic science, whether that may be within the role of a forensic scientist or crime scene examiner, must have an in-depth knowledge of the forensic principles and practices employed in a criminal investigation. A sound knowledge of the processes involved in the progression of a criminal case from crime scene to court is essential. This module will provide you with an insight into the standard operating procedures currently used by forensic providers and some of their partner agencies. The module will concentrate heavily on the Case Assessment and Interpretation model used by the forensic providers and Bayesian theory. You'll also gain knowledge of the role of the expert witness and how expert testimony is presented in a court of law. Assessment methods: 50% coursework, 50% exam.
- Research project (with advanced topics in forensic science)
The research project will enable you to carry out research on a focused area of forensic science that interests you. It will enable you to apply the concepts and skills you've gained throughout the undergraduate degree programme, while furthering your experience of planning, reviewing and completing a major piece of research, in addition to preparing a large report of the research in the form of a dissertation. Assessment method: 100% coursework.
- Law of Evidence for Forensic Scientists
This module is designed to introduce the function and operation of the law of evidence in the context of criminal matters. It concentrates on the concepts of relevance and judicial discretion and examines the different types of evidence which attract the rules of admissibility and the reasons for that. You'll visit the nearby Inner London Crown Court to observe a part trial and later carry out a Trial Observation at a Crown Court of your choice as a part of your assessment for this module. Assessment method: 100% Coursework
Forensic science is used to settle an increasing number of criminal cases – making sure law courts have accurate information to determine an outcome of guilty or not guilty. Forensic scientists mix biology, chemistry and maths to obtain and analyse evidence from a variety of sources. These include: blood and other body fluids, hair, textile fibres, glass fragments and vehicle tyre marks.
Many independent forensic laboratories provide services to the criminal justice system. At LSBU, we offer a whole range of transferable skills to enable careers in forensics and other scientific disciplines.
Scientific journalism, the pharmaceutical industry, environmental monitoring, laboratory-based employment and accident investigation are all popular destinations for forensic science graduates.
What to expect from your career
There are three main areas of forensic science: chemistry, biology and drugs and toxicology. Most roles include an aspect of all three. You can expect many hours of work, demanding strong levels of concentration, attention to detail and a methodical approach.
Forensic scientists collect and record evidence from places of interest such as crime scenes, then analyse samples using various laboratory techniques. Some forensic scientists work in-house with the police force, however many are now employed by the private sector.
Some careers (such as scientific journalism) are unlikely to require further education, although employers will look for relevant experience which can help you stand out from the crowd. Other career options however, such as a toxicologist, will require further training.
After a few years' experience forensic scientists can be called to court as a reporting officer. This means you need to concisely and confidently explain to the court what you have found. Salaries after three years' experience are usually around £25,000-£30,000, with senior roles paying around £50,000 (Prospects).
Graduate success stories
Recent graduates from this course have gone onto roles with employers such as the emergency services, government agencies, medical laboratories and pharmaceutical companies.
We are University of the Year for Graduate Employment for the second year in a row - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, 2019.
At LSBU, we want to set you up for a successful career. During your studies – and for two years after you graduate – you’ll have access to our Employability Service, which includes:
- An online board where you can see a wide range of placements: part-time, full-time or voluntary. You can also drop in to see our Job Shop advisers, who are always available to help you take the next step in your search.
- Our Careers Gym offering group workshops on CVs, interview techniques and finding work experience, as well as regular presentations from employers across a range of sectors.
Our Student Enterprise team can also help you start your own business and develop valuable entrepreneurial skills.
This is the first undergraduate forensic science course in London to have gained professional accreditation from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS). We also work closely with the City of London Police and various forensic science providers.
- The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences is an international professional body with members in over 60 countries.
Recent guest lecturers
We have recently held guest lectures by representatives from:
- City of London Police
- Metropolitan Police Service
- Prometheus Forensic Services Ltd.
- Home Office Science - Centre for Applied Science and Technology
- Felstead Forensic Training;
- Former Forensic Science Service employees
At LSBU we offer our students the opportunity to gain practical experience of undertaking forensic investigations in our well-equipped laboratories. The facilities we have to offer include liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS), Fourier transform infrared microscope (FTIR), glass refractive index measuring system (GRIM-3), and DNA extraction and analysis facilities. Students also have access to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
Teaching and learning
|Time spent in lectures, seminars and lab-based study||Self-directed learning|
As an undergraduate Applied Sciences student, you will be allocated a named tutor during your first three weeks at LSBU. The role of your tutor is to be your primary contact for academic and professional development support.
Your tutor will support you to get the most of your time at LSBU, providing advice and signposting to other sources of support in the University.
Your tutor should be the first person at the university that you speak to if you are having any difficulties that are affecting your work. These could be academic, financial, health-related or another type of problem.
You will have appointments with your personal tutor twice a semester for 15 minutes to one hour throughout your course. Office drop in times will be made available and you can contact your tutor for additional support by email.
- A Level CCD or;
- BTEC National Diploma MMM or;
- Access to Science with 39 Merits and 6 Passes or;
- Equivalent level 3 qualifications worth 96 UCAS points
- Level 3 qualifications must include a Science subject
- Applicants must hold 5 GCSEs A-C including Maths and English or equivalent (reformed GCSEs grade 4 or above)..
- We welcome qualifications from around the world. English language qualifications for international students: IELTS score of 6.0 or Cambridge Proficiency or Advanced Grade C.
How to apply
International (non Home/EU) applicants should follow our international how to apply guide.
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Once we have made you an offer, you can apply for accommodation. You can rent from LSBU and you’ll deal directly with the university, not third party providers. That means we can guarantee you options to suit all budgets, with clear tenancy agreements and all-inclusive rents that include insurance for your personal belongings, internet access in each bedroom and on-site laundry facilities.
Or, if you’d rather rent privately, we can give you a list of landlords – just ask our Accommodation Service.
Read more about applying for accommodation at LSBU.
You don't need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to start applying for student finance. Read how to pay your fees as an undergraduate student.
Prepare to start
After you’ve received your offer we’ll send you emails about events we run to help you prepare for your course.
Before you start your course we’ll send you information on what you’ll need to do before you arrive and during your first few days on campus. You can read about the process on our Enrolment pages.
- Jackson, ARW & Jackson, JM. Third Edition. (2011) Forensic Science. Pearson Prentice Hall
- Langford, A et al. (2005) Practical Skills in Forensic Science. Pearson Prentice Hall
Fees and funding
Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.
|UK/EU fee: £9250||International fee: £13780|
|AOS/LSBU code: 1163||Session code: 1FS00|
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The individual Tuition Fee for this course is shown above. For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for undergraduate students.
We offer students considerable financial help through scholarships, bursaries, charitable funds, loans and other financial support. The majority of our scholarships are given as direct Tuition Fee discounts and we encourage all eligible students to apply for our National Scholarship Programme (NSP). The NSP features 100 full scholarships that exempt students from all Tuition Fees, and there are many more partial scholarships. Find out more about scholarships and fee discounts for undergraduate students.