BSc (Hons) Forensic Science with Foundation year

Southwark Campus

Mode: Full-time

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Overview

Course is subject to validation.

The Foundation Year provides you with a good understanding of the scientific concepts that underpin Forensic Science; students gain knowledge and practical skills that prepare them for the BSc Forensic Science. The course is modular in structure and allows all science foundation students within the school of Applied Science to be together for the first part of the study period. Students who wish to change programme at the end of this period can do so through consultation with the course director.

Its an exciting way to explore and learn about all kinds of science. The second part of the course specialises in forensic science core subjects accompanied by some specialist laboratory work. There is a good mix of assessment strategies with an emphasis on “learning by doing” and problem solving. Once completed there is a seamless integration with the parent BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science. The course will suit those students who are enthusiastic about Forensic Science yet have not developed all the knowledge and skills to study the subject at an advanced level. It delivers a future-fit curriculum at Foundation level and a great introduction to university life allowing you to become confident in your abilities and broadening your horizons.

Why Forensic Science at LSBU?

We’re ranked 8th in the UK for Student Satisfaction (Complete University Guide 2022)
This course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
Our specialised facilities include our very own Crime Scene Flat, and an extensive range of analytical instrumentation dedicated to forensic science students
Our staff members are experts in their respective fields including Fingerprints, DNA, Explosives, Fire, Fibres and sexual assault.

Watch the video below to see Forensic Science students witnessing a flashover, caused by mixing hot fat with water, on a visit to a fire ground organised by Fire Investigation Consultants Prometheus.

Accreditations

Modules

Forensic science is the application of scientific techniques to crime investigation with the presentation of evidence in a court of law. This course covers:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Law
  • 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.

The Forensic Science course is taught by professionals from the forensic science industry. In addition we have visiting scientists based in industry come in to talk about their own jobs and career progression. We place special emphasis on training for both forensic related jobs and the wider scientific industry. For example chemical analysts, science teachers and those jobs which require a significant grounding in investigative analytical sciences. As well as involving industry professionals we also provide student membership of the forensic science professional body; Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. There is also a sequence of key modules which link to the University Careers hub and involve you in developing your CV and interview skills.

Foundation Level

At foundation level the course will develop the scientific disciplines which underpinning the study of forensic science (biology; chemistry and physics) and the role of forensic science in the context of crime  and forensic investigation. The application of appropriate scientific knowledge and understanding to facilitate the understanding of forensic science theory, laboratory methods, data collection, processing, and interpretation will be introduced in the foundation year.

  • Introduction to Academic Skills for the Applied Sciences
    This module provides an introduction to the skills needed for undergraduate academic study, with a particular focus on those of writing, to ensure a successful entry into level 4 of the BSc programmes of the School of Applied Sciences.
  • Foundation Maths for Science This module is designed to provide students with the mathematical knowledge and skills necessary for transition to level 4 study of science subjects. The module is designed for a mixed cohort of students with some prior learning experience and students with below A-level mathematical background.
  • Foundations of Biology
    This module is designed to introduce the fundamental principles of biology at a foundational level. It serves as a preparatory module for students who plan to undertake a science-based degree programme. Areas of study will include the organisation of living things, control and coordination of biological processes and genetics.
  • Foundations of Chemistry
    This module builds on the concepts and skills introduced in semester 1, at a level between GCSE and Advanced level. It builds knowledge of basic chemistry elements and continues building on the mathematical understanding developed in semester 1. It serves as a preparatory module for students intending to undertake science-based undergraduate degree courses in the university.
  • Foundations of Human Nutrition
    This module will deliver foundation knowledge in nutrition, covering the basics of the science of nutrition, supporting students to progress to study baking, bioscience, biomedical, forensic science, sports science or psychology.  The module will provide both scientific information and skills required to interpret nutritional guidelines into practical recommendations.
  • Foundations of Forensic Science
    This module introduces the student to some of the most common basic concepts and skills which underpin the multidisciplinary field of forensic science. The module is lab based allowing concepts and skills to be taught through experimentation. The laboratory practicals are divided thematically into forensic biological analysis, forensic chemical analysis, physical measurement and crime scene investigation.

Year 1

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Introduction to 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:
    * 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 level 5 Crime Lab modules and the Biological Evidence module at Year 3.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Year 2

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Crime Laboratory
    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. 
  • Crime Scene Management and Processing
    This module is focussed on the way in which evidence is packaged and recorded at the crime scene and the various procedures and practices which are essential for maintaining the integrity of evidence. 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.

Year 3

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Employability

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 use a combination of biological, chemical, physical and mathematical methods to obtain and analyse evidence from a variety of sources. These include: blood and other body fluids, hair, textile fibres, glass fragments and finger, footwear and 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.

You will be prepared for further education and employment through awareness of occupations and Interaction with industry representatives

  1. Understanding the scope of employment opportunities
  2. Understanding the requirements of industry
  3. Role play
  4. Understanding how subject specific module based activities relate to job tasks in industry.
  5. Use information technology to survey and apply for job opportunities
  6. Be aware of postgraduate studies and research which lead to highly specialised job opportunities within the research community or in Industry.
  7. Engage with professional bodies which represent the forensic science profession such as the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
  8. Be aware of wider job opportunities which involve knowledge and skills obtained from the degree course such as science teacher, chemical analyst, information technologist

What to expect from your career

There are three main areas of forensic science: Crime Scene Investigation Laboratory analysis and the Interpretation of scientific data and its presentation in court. Some 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 or Government laboratories.

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.

Many of our students progress to Masters level courses and some continue on to PhD level. Nearly all our students tend to choose London-based Masters courses based at University College London, Kings College London and Queen Mary University of London in subjects including digital crime and security, forensic toxicology, chemical analysis, forensic anthropology.

Typical salaries

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.

Employability Service

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 Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and various forensic science providers.

Forensic Science Society logo
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.
  • Defence Science & Technology Laboratory
  • Spattered Ltd
  • QinetiQ
  • Home Office Science  - Centre for Applied Science and Technology
  • Felstead Forensic Training
  • Former Forensic Science Service employees

Facilities

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 microscopy (FTIR), glass refractive index measuring system (GRIM-3), and DNA extraction and analysis facilities. You will have access to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). We also have a Crime Scene Flat which we use to demonstrate various practical aspects of forensic science.

Teaching and learning

We have recorded all the experiments and practical activities, for instances when students can’t attend campus. Take a look at two examples experiments, the first is a ninhydrin development method to uncover finger marks on paper, and the second provides an overview of fluorescence methods used to search for evidence at a crime scene.

Percentage of time spent in different learning activities
Time spent in lectures, seminars and lab-based study Self-directed learning
Year 1 32% 68%
Year 2 34% 66%
Year 3 28% 72%

Personal Tutoring

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.

Assessment

Assessment methods are specified in each module guide. Surface learning is assessed formally by both seen and unseen examinations. Deep learning is examined using various coursework pieces, including case studies, essays and case file preparations. Practical skills are examined in the laboratory environment in terms of the quality of your measurements. You will also undergo courtroom examinations and project presentations and vivas, which will examine your ability to process your knowledge under pressure and communicate to different audiences.

Entry requirements

    To be considered for entry to the course applicants would normally need at least 1 A level in a science subject or a minimum of 32 UCAS points from an equivalent L3 qualification as follows:

    • BTEC Subsidiary/National/BTEC Extended Diploma but may not have achieved the appropriate grades to immediately join the BSc Programme.
    • English Language and Mathematics GCSE at grade C (grade 4) or above (or equivalent).

    We welcome mature applicants with other qualifications and/or relevant experiential learning judged to be equivalent. Past achievement can be assessed and considered for Credit for Prior Learning.

    Overseas entrants are required to have European and overseas qualifications deemed to be equivalent to the above qualifications by the National Academic Information Centre for the UK, with ILETS level 6.0.

Advanced entry

If you have already completed some studies at another university, we may be able to consider you for advanced entry. Please see our advanced entry page for more information.

Course status

  • Accreditation and Course validation status

    This course is validated by London South Bank University. Applications are being accepted.

How to apply

International students

International (non Home) applicants should follow our international how to apply guide.

Accommodation

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.

Finance

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

Applicant events

After you’ve received your offer we’ll send you emails about events we run to help you prepare for your course.

Suggested reading

  • 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

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.

Scholarships

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.

The individual fee for this course is shown above. For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for postgraduate students.

See our Tuition Fees Regulations (PDF File 391 KB) and Refund Policy (PDF File 775 KB).

We have a range of PhD Scholarships available in partnership with businesses and organisations; read notices of PhD studentships.