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
Forensic Science at Derby is ranked third in the UK for student satisfaction with teaching, Guardian University Guide 2020
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
Foundation Year - helping you to achieve more
Including a foundation year as part of your four-year study programme will give you a head start in your academic and professional life. The foundation year offers the chance to strengthen your skills, knowledge and confidence – with extensive support from our expert staff – before you advance to stage one of your honours degree. It could also be beneficial if you are planning a career change and want to get to grips with aspects of subjects which are new to you.
Our degrees with a foundation year are continuous, meaning that you won’t need to apply again once you have successfully completed the first year.
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 crime scenes including break-ins, assaults, vehicles and drug crime. Using the latest biological and analytical equipment, you’ll study how every contact leaves a trace such as fingerprints, DNA, bodily fluids and blood pattern analysis. You can also explore how entomology, anthropology, analytical chemistry and taphonomic processes can assist forensic investigations, and there is an 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.
Forensic Training Facility
This custom built facility offers seven replica domestic and commercial crime scenes, a blood spatter room and fully panoramic CCTV and audio for live feedback.
One of the highlights of this course is the chance for you to build impressive practical techniques in our custom-designed . 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 analytical 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 modern instrumentation. You will also have access to our well-equipped imaging suite and insectary.
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.
3rdin the UK for student satisfaction with teaching**Guardian University Guide 2020
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 entomology, forensic photography, drug analysis, anthropology, taphonomy, 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 the 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 to entomotoxicology and analysis of new psychoactive substances – our students have undertaken practical investigations into some of the key challenges facing today’s forensic 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 external conferences or forensic journals. Such activities represent an exciting opportunity to network with other professionals and raise your profile. Some of our former students have scooped prestigious awards from organisations like FIRN, Royal Society of Chemistry and the Fingerprint Society, or have been invited to present their ideas at the Houses of Parliament.
This module aims to develop the study skills essential for study at university and facilitate the transition into Higher Education. The module will help student understand university systems and processes, the study skills they require to succeed and the role they have in their own learning.
This module offers an introduction to the fields of forensic science and crime scene investigation. Students will gain an understanding of forensic investigation and the processes by which forensic scientists analyse evidence.
Students will learn about the differences between the roles of crime scene investigators and forensic scientists; the management and processing of crime scenes and the different types of forensic evidence that can be encountered by both groups.
This module will introduce the key concepts that underpin biological sciences. It will provide students with a theoretical understanding of the fundamental bioscience areas of cellular biology, biochemistry and genetics.
It will also introduce students to how biotechnology is informing our current knowledge of the regulation of cellular mechanisms.
The module will also incorporate practical learning to enable students to apply their bioscience knowledge.
This module aims to gives students an overview of some of the basic chemical principles that form the foundations of chemistry. Students will learn about the fundamental building blocks of chemistry, exploring the states of matter, its structure and organisation. Student will gain an understanding of the chemical principles of interactions and reactions at the atomic level. Students will then explore fundamental chemistry which underpins applied fields such as forensic science and biology.
This module aims to develop an understanding of why and how research is conducted within science disciplines. Students will develop a working knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative data handling skills through the use of Excel and other appropriate software. Introductions to formulating and operationalising research questions and hypotheses will be included along with an exploration of the rationale behind applying different research methods for different purposes and the ethical considerations linked to these.
This module will provide students with a theoretical understanding of physiology and anatomy of the relevant body systems.
Fundamental anatomical and physiological concepts will be explored for a range of body systems in relation to what these systems consist of and how they function. The concepts of health and disease will be introduced as the range of body systems are explored.
The module will incorporate both theoretical and practical learning to enable students to apply their knowledge of the human body.
Since the full elucidation of DNA structure in 1952 our knowledge in the field of genetics has increased exponentially. The development of molecular techniques means that genetics now has the capacity to impact on almost all areas of human life. Medical testing, conservation work and criminal investigation are three diverse examples of areas that in which genetics plays a major role. Knowledge of such a significant area is thus a pre-requisite for all biological and forensic based study.
The module aims to provide a broad introduction to, and basic understanding of, the key concepts in classical and molecular genetics. The module also addresses the role of genetics in society and some of the ethical issues that surround its use.
This module introduces key concepts essential to the understanding of biological and biochemical structures and processes at an atomic, molecular and cellular level. The basic skills required to understand and interpret the behaviour of biological and chemical materials, both qualitatively and quantitatively, will be covered. This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the cell, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, along with the basic biochemistry of carbohydrates and lipids.
Introduction to the fundamental concepts, techniques and processes used in the examination, documentation and analysis of the crime scene and specialist examinations. Basic understanding of the key roles of personnel and specialists present at the crime scene.
Practical experience of examination, documentation and retrieval methods from mock crime scene scenarios.
This module starts by introducing some more advanced organic structures and aspects of Nomenclature as applied to these organic compounds. Also covered in this module are characteristic structures and behaviour of acids, bases, reductants and oxidants. Kinetic and thermodynamic factors that control important chemical reactions are covered as is characteristic functional group chemistry. The module touches on a selected range of important organic reactions including the mechanisms of reaction. The materials are presented in a forensically interesting and relevant context. Methods of analysis such as spectroscopy and chromatography are then introduced and discussed with reference to case studies of forensic interest.
The module will provide student with broad introductions to the fundamental concepts, techniques and processes used in the collection, processing, analysis and storage of forensic evidence and data. Students will also develop a rigorous approach to the acquisition of a broad knowledge base within forensic science. Students will employ a range of specialised skills; evaluate observed and acquired information using it to plan and develop investigative strategies and to determine solutions to a variety of unpredictable problems. Introduction to forensic biology including human tissue analysis, biological trace evidence, hair and fibre analysis, fingerprints and the ethical considerations involved when dealing with forensic evidence.
In addition, students will develop an understanding of the basic laboratory skills including microscopy, undertaking appropriate anti-contamination procedures, note taking and report writing.
Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice for Forensic Science
The role of Forensic Science and the Forensic Scientist is predominantly focused towards the later stages of criminal Investigation. Understanding the full context of English Criminal Justice therefore, including the various bodies and organisations that contribute to this system is of paramount importance. Criminal law and Criminal legislation including Parliaments role in introducing new bills, the Police and Crown Prosecution Service are examples of areas where forensic science plays a role. Knowledge of such significant areas is thus pre-requisites for all forensic and forensic with criminology based studies.
The module aims to provide a broad introduction to, and basic understanding of, the structure of the English Criminal Justice system, including the Police, the Courts and the role of Forensic Scientist as Expert Witness. In addition, students will also research introductory concepts on the basis and response of criminality and criminal behaviour. The module also introduces the role of statistics to support the evaluation of evidence that a practicing forensic scientist would be expected to use in their casework interpretation.
The Molecular Biology module builds directly on a range of aspects of genetics covered in the first year modules; particularly ‘Genetics’ and ‘Chemistry for Life’. The module also provides direct support to a wide range of material that will be covered in both biological and forensic modules in the third year. The module covers both theoretical and practical aspects of evolutionary and forensic genetics. A range of skills will be developed which are directly relevant to the workplace.
Professionalism is at the core of forensic practitioners working practice. In this module students will develop the skills necessary for the investigation of the crime scenes and the presentation of this evidence in a court room scenario.
The module develops an understanding of the importance of making informed decisions and appropriate judgements in the application of forensic science at all stages of the criminal justice system. Students will be expected to demonstrate competence in strategy and techniques in the collection, analysis and presentation of evidence from a realistic crime scene scenario.
Students will undertake a period of real-world experience to develop their fundamental graduate skills such as oral and written communication, teamwork and problem solving. These skills will be applied in the student’s journey to professional employment.
This module introduces the core analytical techniques used in the identification of compounds and substances of forensic interest. The principles of spectroscopic and chromatographic methods are discussed, along with their application to the qualitative and quantitative analysis of various materials.
The structure and composition of a range of materials of forensic interest are examined. The practical considerations which need to be made when undertaking chemical analyses of a forensic nature will be explored, with emphasis on both technique selection and data interpretation.
This module gives the student insight into how trace evidence is used in forensic investigation. It will build on the knowledge learned at level 4 and cover various fields of trace evidence collection and analysis. Each session will provide the student with theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience and generate data so that different types of forensic evidence can be analysed appropriately through either calculations, probability, or statistics.
The module will prepare students for their Independent Studies research project undertaken at level 6 and deliver important information regarding research design and ethics. Students will receive guidance on how to plan and propose a piece of independent research and complete the University Research Ethics proposal form.
This module introduces you to some of the methods used for quantitative chemical analysis, with reference to their relevance in forensic science. More advanced techniques will be introduced, building on the scope of previous forensic chemistry modules. There is a strong practical element, with specific emphasis on the practical application of analytical techniques in a forensic context, including quality assurance and good laboratory practice. You will be expected to present and analyse data in an appropriate manner, including the appropriate statistical treatment of data. In addition you will plan and undertake your own analysis of a forensically relevant sample. Presentation skills will be developed through the design, production and presentation of a poster on a key analytical technique. You will also critically assess the methodology of analytical techniques, suggesting alternative methods of analysis for the forensic application discussed.
Using skeletal remains to assist in human identification is an important area of practice for the Forensic Scientist and involves a variety of theories and methods focusing on the wider scope of human skeletal biology on issues of medico-legal significance. This module provides an introduction to the practice of Forensic Anthropology. Through a series of lectures and practical lab sessions, you will learn about methods of bioprofiling used by forensic anthropologists, topics on skeletal biology, disease and trauma that can be observed on bone, and ethical concerns involved when working with human remains in legal contexts.
Photography is often described as the ‘scientist’s retina’; this module develops the students ability to use a wide range of imaging scientific techniques and modalities, for example, ultraviolet fluorescence and infrared, as an integral part of their working practice as a forensic scientist to analyse and record forensic evidence.
This module will look at a broad range of topics related to forensic evidence which can be obtained from ecological and wildlife samples. Students will learn about the fields of wildlife crime and wildlife forensics and the accompanying analysis of non-human evidence. Additionally, the module will cover entomological evidence including collection, rearing, identification, and calculation of minimum time since death.
This module provides a framework for the development of “lifelong learning” skills appropriate to all areas of professional practice; including objective setting, planning, negotiating, implementing, demonstrating and reflecting. The emphasis in this module is on the analysis and evaluation of the work completed within the organisation. This module also gives students an opportunity to relate their academic knowledge to the work environment.
Students need to be aware of the commercial realities and external factors that influence the success of an organisation. This module provides opportunities for students to acquire an understanding of contemporary issues that may impact on industrial and professional practices relevant to a career within their chosen discipline.
During this period of work experience, students can gain a deeper appreciation of the responsibilities arising from both corporate and individual responses to such issues, thus enabling them to relate to the wider world when exploring a personal direction for potential career development.
In this module, students will develop their abilities to act as a professional forensic scientist in various aspects of the profession. Students will be involved in an active process giving them direct experience of a mock crime; this will include the crime scene, relevant laboratory analyses, the pre-trial conference and a courtroom trial. Students will learn effective statistical and written methods to prepare case file documentation as well as to deliver their scientific findings through the production of an expert witness statement and participate in a mock courtroom trial. Students will also be prepared for the professional world by gaining direct experience through a professional practice visit as well examining relevant careers in the sector, opportunities in further education and professional training routes.
The module aims to provide students with a platform; a culmination of their forensic science training, bringing together the various streams to effectively allow students to demonstrate their understanding from initial crime scene examination through to delivering effective laboratory practice and preparing reports to facilitate them delivering effective opinion based evidence in a courtroom situation.
In this module, students build upon and apply their knowledge of current forensic practice and crime scene evaluation in the investigation of serious and organised crime. Serious and organised crime in this context refers to crime that can result in a custodial sentence of more than a year such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping and fraud. Using recent forensic research, police protocols, guides and criminal law, students will study current approaches and techniques in serious and organised crime investigation, both in general and in a specific self-selected context.
This module presents an opportunity for students to further enhance their technical, analytical and problem solving skills as well as transferable skills such as time management, creativity and the ability to work independently. The student will conduct a research project of their choosing within which they will formulate hypotheses and conduct a methodology suitable to their project. Skills in scientific writing developed through levels 4 and 5 will be used to complete a dissertation as well as the completion of an oral viva in which the student will defend their dissertation.
Each of us carries the record of our personal evolutionary history locked up in our genome. Our genome can also influence our future health and longevity. The focus of this module is an investigation into the main components of the Human genome. We also look at the history of the Human Genome Project and the future prospects now that we have the genome sequence in both biological and forensic contexts. Human genome sequence organization is also contrasted with a number of model organisms from bacteria through to other primates. We also look at the DNA sequence databases and how DNA sequence data is deposited, retrieved and manipulated.
Work experience and volunteering are two important routes to develop a fundamental understanding of issues related to employment within a chosen organisation. This module also has far reaching benefits in terms of providing valuable hands on experience and a platform for developing ideas outside of the taught curriculum.
This module provides an opportunity for the student to undertake a placement within a company, voluntary body or public establishment and is designed for Level 6. The student has freedom to select an appropriate host organisation. By placing the module at level 6, the student should be able to undertake a project based on their knowledge and understanding at this higher level.
The project should be selected so as to generate benefit to the host organisation. An integral part of the student experience is the compilation of a report based on deep reflection of personal experiences acquired during the placement. The report should also reflect wider issues such as the objectives, structure and procedures of the host body and the role of volunteers within the organisation. This analysis must be of a depth commensurate with Level 6 study. The placement work must relate to the student’s degree programme but must have clear differentiation from their Independent Study project in respect of either location or topic.
This module gives the student insight into the processes that occur after death and how they can be used to give temporal, causal and trace evidence in forensic investigation. The interactions between medicine and the law are complex and cover a wide range of specialisations including; the role of the coroner and the pathologist, personal injuries and accidents, pre-peri and post-mortem changes in the body, graves and burial procedures, mass disasters, biometrics and identification as well as the chemical, physical and biological processes involved. The module looks to further develop student thinking and reasoning skills through the use of case studies and simulated scenarios for analysis and offers the opportunity to view a post-mortem.
All substances, if taken in large enough doses, are toxic to humans. This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the multidisciplinary field of toxicology, from the biological and biochemical processes which occur when a poison is administered to the chemical analysis of toxicological samples. While a range of toxins from various sources will be considered, particular emphasis will be placed upon the study of drugs of abuse, including their chemistry, legislation and analysis of both toxicological and non-toxicological samples.
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.
Our course provides a variety of learning experiences to engage you, including crime scene training, lectures, practical sessions and fieldtrips, including the opportunity to observe a post-mortem.
You’ll be assessed through a range of mediums, including, but not limited to, formal witness statements and expert testimony, case studies, essays, laboratory reports, portfolios, examinations and presentations.
Who will teach you
Adam Long Programme leader
Adam Long is the Undergraduate Programme Coordinator for Forensic Science at the University of Derby and teaches across all levels, with particular interest and expertise in fingerprints, their capture and comparison. Adam also sits on Governing Council for The Chartered Society of Forensic Science and is the main point of contact for the Fingerprint Working Group.
GCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at L2 as part of your course of study.
6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / Audition
Alternative entry qualifications:
BTEC - MPP
Pass Access to HE Diploma 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2.
We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.
Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.
Fees and funding
£9,250 per year*
£14,045 per year
* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.
Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.
Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.
With a Forensic 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 in the forensic science sector and criminal justice system, but also insurance companies or any industry where a good science degree is invaluable.
Derby graduates now work as scenes of crime 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 SOCOTEC, Cellmark, Minerva Scientifics, Rolls-Royce, Lubrizol and LGC Forensics.
This degree also paves the way to postgraduate level learning. As an applied science course, it equips you to progress to qualifications in medicine and can pave the way to MSc, MRes, 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.
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.
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.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
Included in your fees
You will receive a dissection kit, laboratory coat and crime scene suit
Access to specialist software: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)
Travel and entrance fees covered for fieldtrips where suitable/possible to examine fire scenes and observe a post mortem examination
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Most assignments are submitted through an online platform but due to the nature of the course, you will need to submit several hard-copy submissions such as portfolios and case files
In your final year, you will need to submit a printed and bound Independent study (dissertation) - to print is approximately 5p per sheet, to bind is approximately £6
Optional costs not included in your fees
In addition to the dissection kit we provide, some students like to create their own forensic toolkit to support crime scene work - cost is dependent on the items you choose to purchase
All recommended books are available in our library, however you may wish to purchase optional textbooks or e-books to support your studies - costs for these are dependent on your choice
This course is accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Science and so you can become an associate member whilst you are studying
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.