Study Forensic Science – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Multidisciplinary forensic science uses science to investigate crimes and offer evidence in court. It aids in criminal investigation, prosecution, and defence, making it vital to the system. Forensic scientists evaluate and interpret crime scene evidence using diverse scientific methodologies. Learn more about pursuing this field at the best UK universities today!

forensic science

Table of Contents

What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science is a multidisciplinary field that involves the application of scientific principles and techniques to solve crimes and provide evidence in legal proceedings. It plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system by assisting in the investigation, prosecution, and defence of criminal cases. Forensic scientists use various scientific methods to analyse and interpret physical evidence from crime scenes.

Why Study Forensic Science?

Studying forensic science offers a unique and rewarding educational path with several compelling reasons to pursue it:

  • Solve Complex Crimes: Forensic science equips individuals with the skills and knowledge to help solve crimes. It allows you to contribute directly to investigations by collecting, analysing, and interpreting physical evidence from crime scenes, ultimately aiding in the pursuit of justice.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach: Forensic science is a multidisciplinary field, drawing on principles from biology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences. This diverse knowledge base allows you to work on a wide range of cases and explore various scientific disciplines.
  • High Demand for Experts: There is a consistent demand for forensic scientists in law enforcement agencies, crime laboratories, and other organisations involved in criminal investigations. Job opportunities in this field are often stable and well-compensated.
  • Make a Difference: Forensic scientists play a vital role in the criminal justice system, helping to exonerate the innocent and bring the guilty to justice. Your work can make a significant impact on society and the lives of individuals affected by crime.
  • Intellectual Challenge: Forensic science involves critical thinking, problem-solving, and the application of scientific principles to real-world situations. It’s intellectually stimulating and offers a constant opportunity for learning and growth.

Best Universities for Forensic Science in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest Complete University Guide:

1University of Strathclyde
2Robert Gordon University
3University of Kent
4Northumbria University, Newcastle
5Nottingham Trent University
6University of Bradford
7University of Huddersfield
8University of Portsmouth
9Glasgow Caledonian University
10Keele University
11University of Derby
12Kingston University
13Bristol, University of the West of England
14University of Lincoln
15Bournemouth University
16Staffordshire University
17Liverpool John Moores University
18Abertay University
19University of Chester
20University of Central Lancashire
21De Montfort University
22London South Bank University
23University of Worcester
24Teesside University, Middlesbrough
25University of the West of Scotland
26University of Greenwich
27Anglia Ruskin University
28Canterbury Christ Church University
29University of Hull
30University of South Wales
31London Metropolitan University
32University of West London
33University of Wolverhampton
34University of Cumbria
35Plymouth Marjon University
36Coventry University
37Wrexham University
38University of Bedfordshire

Entry Requirements for a Forensic Science Degree

Entry requirements for a forensic science degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme. However, here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of the typical requirements:

  • Academic Qualifications:
    • A-levels: Most universities require A-level qualifications in relevant subjects, such as chemistry, biology, physics, or mathematics. Some universities may accept a broader range of A-level subjects, but having at least one science subject is often recommended.
    • International Baccalaureate (IB): If you’re pursuing an IB diploma, you’ll typically need to achieve specific scores in relevant higher-level subjects.
  • GCSEs: Many programmes require a minimum of five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English, mathematics, and one or more science subjects. Some universities may have additional GCSE subject requirements.
  • Specific A-level Subjects: Some programmes may specify certain A-level subjects and grades, such as A-level chemistry, at a minimum grade of A or B. Always check the specific requirements of the universities you’re interested in.
  • Additional Qualifications: Some universities may consider additional qualifications, such as the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), as part of their assessment criteria.
  • English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you may need to provide evidence of English language proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

Jobs for Forensic Science Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Forensic Scientist: Forensic scientists work in crime laboratories and analyse physical evidence collected from crime scenes. They may specialise in areas such as DNA analysis, toxicology, ballistics, or digital forensics.
  • Crime Scene Investigator: Crime scene investigators, also known as crime scene analysts or forensic investigators, collect and document physical evidence at crime scenes. They play a crucial role in preserving and processing evidence.
  • Forensic Pathologist: Forensic pathologists are medical doctors who perform autopsies to determine the cause of death in cases of suspicious or unexplained deaths. They often work in collaboration with law enforcement.
  • Digital Forensics Analyst: Digital forensics experts recover and analyse electronic evidence from computers, mobile devices, and digital storage media. They investigate cybercrimes and provide expert testimony in court.
  • Forensic Odontologist: Forensic dentists use dental records and bite mark analysis to identify human remains and provide evidence in cases involving bite marks.

What do Forensic Science Graduates do?

More than a quarter (27%) of forensic science graduates are employed as science, engineering, and production technicians (16%) or natural and social science professionals (11%) 15 months after graduation. Other top-ten roles include teaching professionals (2%), quality and regulatory professionals (2%), and business, research, and administrative professionals (2%). Overall, 67.1% of forensic science graduates are employed, with 9.5% pursuing further study and 9.2% engaged in both work and study.

Salary for Forensic Science Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Medium-skilled: £19,000

High-skilled: £23,000


Topics for Forensic Science Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of forensic science and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Advancements in DNA Analysis Techniques: Explore the latest developments in DNA analysis, such as next-generation sequencing, and their impact on forensic investigations.
  2. The Role of Digital Forensics in Cybercrime Investigations: Investigate the techniques and challenges of digital forensics in solving cybercrimes and securing electronic evidence.
  3. Forensic Entomology in Crime Scene Investigation: Study the use of insect evidence to estimate the time of death and its importance in forensic investigations.
  4. The Reliability of Bite Mark Analysis in Forensic Dentistry: Analyse the accuracy and reliability of bite mark analysis in identifying suspects and victims.
  5. Firearm Examination and Ballistics Analysis: Investigate the methods used to analyse firearms and ballistic evidence to link weapons to crimes.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Criminal Justice: Criminal justice programmes focus on the study of the criminal justice system, law enforcement, criminology, and legal processes. Graduates can pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, and criminal justice administration.
  • Biology or Biochemistry: If you’re interested in the biological aspects of forensic science, pursuing a degree in biology or biochemistry can lead to careers in research, healthcare, or pharmaceuticals.
  • Chemistry: Chemistry degrees offer a strong foundation in the sciences, and graduates can work in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, chemical analysis, and research.
  • Computer Science or Cybersecurity: With the increasing importance of digital technology, computer science and cybersecurity programmes open doors to careers in IT, cybersecurity, software development, and more.
  • Psychology or Criminology: These fields delve into the study of human behaviour, criminal psychology, and social sciences. Graduates can work in counselling, social work, or research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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