Interested in taking your first steps towards a career in forensic science – one of the most pioneering professions of all? Achieve your ambitions by embarking on this dynamic four-year course which includes a foundation year.
- Forensic Science at Derby is ranked in the Top 10 for student satisfaction in The Complete University Guide 2019 and Top 10 for student experience according to the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018
- Study a programme which sets high professional standards: this course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
- Start your studies at foundation level: the perfect choice if you are planning a career change, if you are keen to study a completely new subject area or if you don’t meet the entry requirements to join our three-year honours degree directly
- Build the advanced skills you need to investigate crime scenes, analyse evidence and present findings in court
- Gain hands-on experience in our impressive Forensic Training Facility and high-specification laboratories
- Learn from forensic scientists, fingerprint experts, police officers, lawyers and judges so that you see all aspects of the profession in close-up
- Apply what you learn in the workplace: you will have the opportunity to undertake a year-long placement in a forensic imaging unit, footwear unit or forensic analytical service laboratories with the East Midlands Scientific Operations Unit (EMSOU)
- Raise your professional profile: you can become eligible for Associate Membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry if you select optional modules in chemistry
If you want to become a highly skilled, confident and forward-thinking forensic scientist, this course is the ideal stepping stone.
A strong foundation for your studies
We have devised the foundation year route to open up new opportunities for students who have the ability, ambition and interest to study Forensic Science at Derby. It’s an excellent choice if you lack the formal qualifications to join our BSc (Hons) Forensic Science directly, if you are considering a career change or if you want to improve your skills in a discipline which is new to you. By commencing your studies at foundation level, you can complete the full honours degree in four years.
During your foundation year, you will gain a solid grounding in subjects which prepare you for the challenge of studying an honours degree – not only forensic science but also human anatomy and physiology, cellular biology, chemistry, research methods, data handling and study skills in science.
A degree with foundation year is continuous, so you won’t need to apply again for the BSc (Hons) after completing the first year successfully. And you’ll have the full benefits of being a University of Derby student from the outset.
The high quality of this BSc (Hons) degree is reflected in its accreditations from professional bodies. We have full accreditation from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, which means you can be confident our teaching meets exacting standards. Our Forensic Science courses were praised by the CSFS for their link to industry standards and relevant curriculum, our student-centred approach, employment experience available, our excellent facilities and accessibility for our students to engage with real-life cases.
Separate fact from fiction
Forget what you’ve seen in TV programmes like CSI, Prime Suspect and Silent Witness. At Derby you’ll learn how real crime scene investigators go about their work – and you’ll be fully equipped to join the next generation of forensic science professionals.
From crime scene analysis to presenting evidence in court, our expert teaching team will guide you through the entire range of forensic practices and processes, standing you in good stead for the diverse challenges you’ll face in your career.
In our exceptional training facilities, you’ll investigate mock scenarios ranging from break-ins, arson and assaults to road traffic accidents, drug and computer crime. Using latest biological and analytical equipment, you’ll study how every contact leaves a trace such as fingerprints, human tissue, DNA and blood patterns. You’ll also gain an understanding of how entomology and tissue decay can assist the forensic scientist and will have the opportunity to observe a post mortem.
In addition, we foster your skills and confidence in delivering evidence in court: you’ll present your findings in our courtroom and will be cross-examined by barristers, exactly as you would be in the world of work.
Get hands-on in our Forensic Training Facility
One of the highlights of this course is the chance for you to build impressive practical techniques in our custom-built Forensic Training Facility. You will investigate a range of ‘crime’ scenarios in different domestic and commercial settings, including a bedroom, bathroom, garage, office, store and pharmacy.
The building, which also features a blood pattern analysis room, was designed to such a high specification that it is used by external clients such as the emergency services for their own training purposes.
State-of-the-art digital surveillance, including panoramic CCTV recording and equipment for two-way audio feedback, means that you can work on crime scenarios independently while tutors monitor your progress in real time from a control room.
To add an extra dimension to your studies, our resources also include two crime scene cars donated by Toyota Manufacturing UK.
Skills at the cutting edge
Employers are seeking forensics professionals who are, above all, highly analytical. Ours is an applied science course designed to match their needs and expectations, so you will gain a strong grounding in subjects such as organic chemistry and molecular biology.
You will spend significant amounts of time putting your theoretical knowledge to the test in our well-resourced forensic, biological and chemical laboratories featuring up-to-the-minute instrumentation.
We hold a Class A drugs licence and a firearms collection. Students who choose our Forensic Anthropology module will also work with a variety of archaeological specimens including Anglo Saxon skeletons loaned by Derby Museum.
Benefit from our employer partnerships
Thanks to our strong links with employers, we can make your learning experience even more authentic, realistic and meaningful. We have long-established associations with Derbyshire Constabulary, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and the East Midlands Scientific Operations Unit (EMSOU) which will inspire and motivate you.
You could, for example, find yourself taking part in interactive fire demonstrations at Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Training Station or learning from the police forensic trainers who use our crime scene house for their projects. Some of our students take the opportunity to go on placement in the forensic imaging unit, footwear unit or forensic analytical service laboratories at EMSOU.
Learn from an expert team
With almost 30 years of commercial forensic experience between them, our staff will give you vital insights into every aspect of the profession. They are not only highly knowledgeable but also enthusiastic, supportive and dedicated to your success.
Their research expertise spans fields such as forensic handwriting and document analysis, forensic entomology, forensic photography, fingerprint detection and enhancement techniques, blood pattern analysis and fire investigations.
This course also benefits from the input of visiting speakers who have their fingers on the pulse of latest developments and ideas in forensic science. To broaden your perspectives, we welcome other criminal justice professionals too, such as police officers, lawyers and judges.
Pioneer high-profile research
From ballistics and trace detection of explosives to forensic photography and document analysis – our students have undertaken in-depth investigations into some of the key challenges facing today’s forensics experts.
You will have the chance to add your own voice to the debate by conducting a final-year research project on a theme that interests you most. You could then share your findings through prestigious conferences or forensic journals.
Each year our students showcase their work at the East Midlands Forensics Institute Research Network (FIRN) conference. This represents an exciting opportunity to network with other professionals and raise your profile. Some of our former students have scooped national awards from organisations like FIRN and the Fingerprint Society or have been invited to present their ideas at the Houses of Parliament.
Between stages two and three, you can apply to work in industry for a period of extended professional experience. This will give you a great opportunity to use your theoretical and practical skills. Placements commence in the summer and last for a period of approximately 36 weeks. You'll also be able to select optional modules, allowing you to tailor your degree to your future career aspirations, and keep a continuous personal development portfolio which will help prepare you for life after university.
Each module has a minimum of four hours of contact time per week in each semester. A typical student takes three modules per semester and would therefore have 12 hours of contact time per week. Students are expected to additionally undertake 16 hours of directed study per week, per module.
Our course provides a variety of learning experiences to engage you, including crime scene training, fieldtrips, lectures, and practical sessions. We hold licences for drugs and firearms to provide a realistic forensics training environment. You’ll also have the opportunity to observe a post-mortem.
You’ll be assessed through a range of mediums, including formal witness statements and expert testimony, as well as case studies, essays, laboratory reports, portfolios, examinations and presentations.
With a Forensics Science degree from Derby under your belt, you will have a head start in a challenging and fascinating profession. You could pursue your career not only the forensic science sector and criminal justice system but also in any industry where a good science degree is valuable. You could also consider roles with law firms or insurance companies.
Derby graduates now work as scenes of crimes officers, analytical chemists, forensic laboratory technicians, forensic intelligence analysts, microbiologists and PCR analysts. They are realising their potential with police forces as well as companies like Scientifics, Rolls-Royce and LGC Forensics.
This degree also paves the way to postgraduate level learning. As an applied science course, it will equip you to advance to qualifications in medicine and to MSc, MPhil or PhD study. Some of our students are now enjoying teaching careers within secondary or further education after completing our PGCE Post-14 (Education and Training) qualification.
† Additional information about your studies
Download programme specification
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.