Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 year

UK/EU fee

£875 per 20 credits* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,700 for the full programme (2020/21)

Course level




Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

This course will support you in proposing, developing, and conducting a research project, providing you with invaluable experience and insight into how research is conducted. Studying a masters degree in Forensic Science at Derby will:

Innovation in forensics

The forensic science sector has always strived to develop innovative forensic technology, particularly within the fields of molecular techniques, such as DNA profiling. Recent developments within this sector have led the Chartered Society of Forensic Science to push for increased forensic science research and development. As a result, we have developed our MRes Forensic Science to enable you to undertake your own original research within your chosen area of forensic science.

Active research staff

Our staff are active researchers, regularly presenting at scientific conferences and publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Our expertise covers a diverse range of forensic science subjects and we can support research that is either field or laboratory-based.

Specialist areas in which you could develop your research project include:

Research areas available for 2019/2020 students are listed below. Please contact our Head of Discipline for Biomedical and Forensic Science, Shivadas Sivasubramaniam, for initial enquiries:

Novel approaches for combatting wildlife crime

Wildlife crime is a persistent issue in the UK as well as internationally - research is required within many forms to help combat the issue. Masters projects may look at wildlife crime recording and statistics, public education and resources, or molecular techniques to provide forensic intelligence and evidence.

Insect-Microbe interactions during the blow fly life cycle

Colonisation times and development rates of specific blow fly species are used to estimate the minimum Post Mortem Interval (mPMI). The presence or absence of bacteria on a corpse can potentially affect the development and survival of blow fly larvae. Therefore, an understanding of microbial-insect interactions is important for improving the interpretation of mPMI estimations. In this study, you will identify the bacteria associated with different life stages of forensically important blow fly species.

Comparison between clinical, personal injury and forensic recording of injuries for investigation and litigation

There are standardised methods used in clinical photography, with additional views used for personal injury records to demonstrate quantum. How do these compare with injury recording, following assault, battery as used in criminal investigations, of police, victims or assailants? Can each learn from the other to improve the quality of photographic records for civil and criminal litigation?

The impact of body size on the rate and pattern of decomposition

The rate and pattern of decomposition have been studied extensively. Body size has been identified as one of the key taphonomic drivers in the directionality of the decomposition process. However, its effects have not been fully understood or quantified. This study aims to determine the impact of body size on the rate of decay using pig carcasses as a substitute for human remains, and consequently our ability to more accurately determine the post mortem interval.

Characterisation of finger-marks deposited in blood via different deposition routes: Natural finger-marks pressed onto substrates contaminated with liquid blood and blood contaminated fingers pressed onto unadulterated substrates

For any Crime Scene Investigator, identifying finger-marks in previously deposited blood as opposed to finger-marks made from blood contaminated fingers can infer how the sequence of a crime has occurred, allowing evidence to be more effectively prioritised. This research opportunity may help to advance knowledge around identifying and characterising any differences between these different deposition events, which is otherwise limited.

Persistence and detection of volatile evidence on buried clothing

There are many publications on the chemical analysis of evidence associated with arson, many focusing on the identification of accelerant traces. Buried evidence has not received much attention, and this project would examine the persistence and detection of volatile evidence following burial.

Chiral profiling of drugs of abuse using chromatographic methods

Most drugs are chiral and the separation and analysis of individual drug enantiomers has the potential to provide useful information regarding the provenance of an illicit drug sample. This project aims to develop and validate a chromatographic method for the chiral profiling of an amphetamine type stimulant using a chiral stationary phase approach. Applicants should have excellent laboratory skills, be able to handle trace substances, and have experience in either instrumental chromatographic analysis (GC or HPLC) or chemical synthesis.

Comparative analysis and personal profiling of 18th and 20th century prison graffiti

Prison graffiti often represents the most wretched state of man. It is often carved/ inscribed/written at the lowest point in someone’s life, and may represent their final words/thoughts for the world. The proposal of this study has two components:

  • Full recording and analysis of the inscribed graffiti at Derby Gaol Friar Gate prison, and the doors of Leicester Gate (possibly champel beams also), attempting to link names/crimes/people and possibly photographs
  • Comparison of the two very different sets, looking at the type of writing, symbolism and  crimes committed and fate of the people involved

Rare diseases and their visibility in the skeletal record: Creating knowledge using interdisciplinary approaches

Millions of people worldwide suffer from some type of rare disease, often chronic or congenital in nature and therefore affecting the skeleton and musculoskeletal system. While the identification of a condition from skeletal remains can potentially aid forensic casework, new approaches in palaeopathology are focusing on the impact of a condition on individuals and their environment, providing us with new insights regarding the interpretation of human skeletal remains. MRes projects in this area may focus on selected rare diseases and contribute to creating new knowledge through the review and combination of bioanthropological, biomedical and clinical evidence.


Specialised Facilities

We have both field sites and specialised laboratory facilities available for your research projects. These include an imaging laboratory, a molecular laboratory, an insectary with adjoining entomology laboratory, a dedicated microbiology laboratory and an analytical suite housing GCMS, SEM, HPLC, and a UV Vis spectrophotometer. We can also support research that is field-based.

What you will study

You'll study modules such as:

  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Digital Scholarship and Research Skills Development (40 credits)
  • Independent Research (80 credits) or Independent Study (20 credits - PGDip only)
  • Negotiated Module in Science (20 credits)

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

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Postgraduate Live Online Events

While we’re not able to welcome you in person to our campuses at the moment, we’re not going to let that stop us showing you all the great things about studying at Derby.

We’re currently planning our autumn Open Events to bring you the best possible online and on-campus experience.

Book your Live Online EventBook your Live Online Event

How you will learn

We offer a mixture of learning and teaching activities, including face-to-face and online learning. A timetable of the required contact hours for each academic year is available on request.

How you are assessed

You will be assessed through a variety of methods allowing you to show your individual strengths and abilities.

Learn from an expert teaching team

Who will teach you

Dr Kate Barnes
Programme leader

Kate Barnes is a Lecturer in Forensic Biology and teaches on the Forensic Science, Biology and Zoology undergraduate programmes. She researches within the field of Forensic Ecology and is currently exploring insect-microbe interactions in the corpse environment and assessing the effect of environmental conditions on blow fly behaviour.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

You will need an undergraduate degree classification of 2:2 or above in a forensic science related subject.

International students should have the above or an international equivalent. If English is not your first language, you will need to hold IELTS 6.0 or above.

If you are selected for an interview, you will be asked to submit a one-page proposal outlining the areas of interest for your potential research project. More details concerning this proposal will be provided when you are invited to interview.


Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees (August 2020 - July 2021)


£875 per 20 credits*

£875 per 20 credits*


£14,700 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

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International student scholarship

We're offering a £2,000 scholarship for all eligible international students studying a full-time postgraduate taught programme (PGT). Terms and conditions apply.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply


After completing this postgraduate course, you'll be in a great position to secure a variety of jobs within forensic science. You could gain work as a scientific writer, laboratory manager, serious crime advisor, lecturer or senior scientific advisor.

Our course will provide you with an excellent basis from which to study a PhD, or give you the skills required for a research position.

There are a variety of opportunities in the private sector where you can undertake consultancy work or you could work for a range of forensic science providers in a variety of roles.

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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