Forensic Science BSc (Hons)Study level: Undergraduate
The course provides students with a foundation in chemical and biological sciences coupled with forensic science requirements such as crime scene evaluation, collection and preservation of evidence, and legal aspects.
Year of entry
Coventry University (Coventry)
3 years full-time
4 years sandwich
Forensic science is a critical part of the criminal justice system.
A forensic scientist will work in a diverse team to help resolve crimes, and will need to manage crime scenes, analyse evidence, and present expert witness statements in court.
- Through a ‘crime scene to court’ approach, students will be guided through essential concepts such as crime scene evaluation and preservation through to analysis, interpretation, and presentation of collected evidence.
- You will gain a keen theoretical and practical understanding of how science underpin the analysis of forensic materials and how this must withstand legal challenges.
- You will consider a range of forensic evidence types from toxicology, DNA, anthropology, particulates such as glass, fire and explosive residues.
Joint Top Modern University for Career ProspectsGuardian University Guide 2021 and 2022
5 QS Stars for Teaching and FacilitiesQS Stars University Ratings
Top 5 UK Student City (Coventry)QS Best Student Cities Index 2023
Why you should study this course
- Authentic application using expert knowledge of practitioners in the fields of biology, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science and forensic investigation who bring research and practical experience into the classroom (staff subject to change).
- A ‘crime scene to court’ design that guides students from initially securing a scene through to analysing materials and presenting evidence in a court of law. This allows students to understand the entire forensic science process as well as the responsibilities of the people involved.
- The multidisciplinary nature of the course means that graduates will be able to apply their knowledge to a range of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities within or outside the forensic science area.
- Opportunities to examine complex scenes in internal, external and international contexts2 exploring the use of 3D modelling, photography, and anthropology as methods of gathering forensic data4.
- Students will be able to assess simulated crime scenes in our crime scene houses, and other settings, and will then examine evidence in our biological and analytical laboratories applying relevant analytical and evaluation techniques4.
Our Award-winning Green Superlab
With space for over 250 students and packed full of industry-standard equipment, the Coventry University Superlab is an amazing place to learn, experiment and discover. Find out what we’re doing in our Superlab to make it greener and reduce our waste and carbon emissions.
More than just a degree
From the integration of practical experiences in our state-of-the-art labs and simulated crime scenes, to the inspiration teaching by a range of subject experts, this course offers a great opportunity to immerse yourself in what it is to be a forensic scientist.
What you'll study
Year one introduces you to the basic scientific principles and practices of chemical and biological analysis. Forensic science theory is introduced as well as criminal law and the role of individuals and crime scene specialists, where you will develop skills in team working, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship. Forensic protocols in crime scene examination and collection, preservation and subsequent analysis of both human and physical evidence is explored. You will be supported to become confident, competent, and safe in laboratory and crime scene environments as well as develop your writing, numerical, research and presentation skills in preparation for your subsequent years.
Criminal and Civil Law - 20 credits
This module aims to provide an introduction to the legal system in England and Wales within an international context. The module will focus on the use of and presentation of evidence in the various court environments. You will be introduced to the procedures surrounding the enactment and interpretation of legislation. The module will identify and provide an understanding of certain criminal offences and explore how these are constructed and how the particular style of drafting can affect the course of an investigation.
Crime Scene Examination - 20 credits
The aim of the module is to introduce you to the processes and protocols involved in the examination of a crime scene. This module will cover the roles of those attending crime scenes, crime scene management, as well as the protocols for the recovery of evidential items. You will engage in practical exercises to look at a variety of scenes, from burglaries to major crimes and collect evidence from various simulated settings.
Fundamental Science and Laboratory Techniques - 20 credits
The aim of the module is to introduce you to a range of skills that will help you to become a competent forensic scientist and to provide you with a good foundation that underpins your undergraduate studies and beyond. These skills include both laboratory techniques which are key to performing competent reliable laboratory analysis and underpinning skills such as report writing, searching and retrieving data, numerical skills and presentation skills both in written and other formats.
Human Evidence - 20 credits
This module is designed to introduce you to the basics of anatomy, genetics, biological evidence types and forensic pathology/medico-legal autopsies. You will explore the theory behind the various evidence types, the analysis techniques used and gain practical skills in the complementary laboratory sessions4.
Forensic Science in Practice - 20 credits
The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the development of forensic science. Through the use of key case studies, you will gain fundamental knowledge of the forensic science process, gaining understanding of the way evidence is taken from the scene of a crime through to use in courtrooms, known as ‘crime scene to court’. You will also look at the different agencies in England and Wales involved in these stages including the forensic science regulator and quality control of forensic science and forensic materials throughout the process. Essential factors that affect the forensic science process such as bias, decision-making and ethics will also be considered and debated.
Physical Evidence - 20 credits
The aim of this module is to introduce you to the analysis and forensic opportunities afforded by a range of physical evidence types including marks evidence, questioned documents, particulates (e.g. glass, paint and GSR (gunshot residue)), drugs of abuse and other forms of physical evidence such as fire residues. We consider aspects such as transfer and persistence, and you will gain a practical and theoretical understanding of the collection and analysis involved with these evidence types. This module is heavily supported with case studies and practical laboratory sessions which help develop your real-world understanding.
In year two, you will build on your knowledge of forensic science, covering topics such as forensic genetics, analysis of trace, marks and impressions found within complex indoor and outdoor crime scenes. You will use more complex methods of evidence evaluation such as 3D modelling, virtual reality environments and digital photography. To complete your studies you will further explore areas such as toxicology and the examination of drugs, forensic ecology and taphonomy studies.
Forensic Genetics - 15 credits
This module extends the discussion of forensic DNA analysis covered in year one to consider the analysis and interpretation of more challenging samples such as profiling of degraded and mixed samples, as well as modern advances in forensic analysis.
Trace, Marks and Impressions - 15 credits
The aim of this module is to extend your learning of trace, marks and impressions evidence. You will consider the various types of evidence, from glass and soils to drugs and metals, and consider their process of manufacture through to their analysis and interpretation in court.
Complex Crime Scene Examination - 15 credits
This module continues from the work on crime scene protocols you undertook in year one. In this module you will be asked to consider more complex crime scene scenarios and the scene management associated with these. You will consider various aspects such as weather, day/night scenes and other complex scenarios.
Evidence, Analysis and Interpretation - 15 credits
This is an assessment only module that integrates learning from three second-year modules: Complex Crime Scenes, Forensic Genetics, and Trace Marks and Impressions. In this assessment, you will gather evidence from a crime scene, analyse the evidence for biological and physical traces and collate the results into a cohesive report.
3D Forensic Modelling - 20 credits
This module focuses on the application of 3D methods in the criminal justice system, from the crime scene through to courtroom use. You will have practical opportunities to use various 3D scanning and recording techniques such as laser scanning, or photogrammetry4.
Forensic Anthropology and Ecology - 20 credits
This module analyses the interaction between the environment, human bodies, and forensic evidence known as forensic ecology and expands your awareness of wider areas of forensic expertise. The complex ecosystem of decay will be explored through forensic taphonomy to understand how bodies change in different environments, including on the surface, buried, or in aquatic environments.
Principles of Toxicology and Drug Examination - 20 credits
This module aims to build upon the introduction to drugs analysis provided in year one. In this module you will consider these substances from both a legal standpoint as well as testing regimes for these compounds and the metabolic process involved after use.
On successful completion of years one and two, you may elect to apply for either a one-year work experience placement, or a year of study abroad. These opportunities offer highly valued opportunities to enhance learning and help gain a competitive advantage in the workplace after graduation. Students taking this option will take an additional year to complete their degree. Work experience placements are competitive and successful acceptance cannot be guaranteed. Our Talent Team offer support for students in the application process. You should note that some work placements may require additional health and professional suitability checks including DBS and enhanced DBS criminal record checks. If you are unable to meet the health and suitability requirements, then the choice of placement opportunities will be restricted2.
If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1,250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.
UK Work Placement - 0 credits
This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.
International Study/Work Placement - 0 credits
This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.
The final year will build on your knowledge gained from years one and two by exploring the role of forensic science on a global and international scale. Current and future techniques will be considered in relation to a variety of industries to allow you wider opportunities for career development. You will further develop research skills by undertaking a research project and will also produce a prosecution file culminating in a mock trial thus providing a capstone experience to the course in a crime scene to court module.
Research Design for Forensic and Biological Sciences - 20 credits
In this module, you will prepare for your final year research project. The module will support you through the process of defining your research question, planning your experiments and considering the most appropriate data analysis methods.
Independent Project in Forensic and Biological Sciences - 20 credits
The aim of this module is for you to conduct a piece of investigative research, which may be laboratory or non-laboratory, in a specialised area of forensic science and/or biological and forensic sciences. This module follows from Research Design for Biological and Forensic Sciences and you will implement your research proposals in this module.
International Forensic Science - 20 credits
The module aims to explore current and international issues as well as advanced developments in forensic research, analysis, ethics and legislation. You will critically appraise real life cold cases, in light of new developments and techniques in forensic science, to examine the previous limitations and what new investigative leads could be generated. This module will also enable you to appreciate the complexity of cases crossing international borders, in terms of differences in accreditation, standards of evidence and forensic procedures.
Advances in Biological Analysis - 20 credits
This module seeks to provide an overview of research and novel techniques used for identification employed within the biological field. Taught material will cover massive parallel sequencing techniques including single-cell seq, nanopore seq and CRISPR-Cas9, targeted fragmentation and selective seq for identification purposes. You will also cover advanced microbiological techniques, including post-mortem studies, to identify evidence such as unexpected infections causing sudden death, determination of agents used in bioterrorism and epidemiology in community-based infections.
Case Studies in Industry - 20 credits
This module aims to broaden your understanding of analytical techniques more commonly associated with analysis outside of forensic science – including the environmental, food and pharmaceutical industries. This module will include coverage of sample preparation and analysis techniques, as well as interpretation of spectra and chromatograms.
Crime Scene to Courtroom - 20 credits
This module is the culmination of the forensic science teaching on this course and aims to bring together your learning in a fully integrated ‘crime scene to courtroom’ structure. The module builds upon the forensic analysis techniques previously learned and concentrates on the appropriate application of these techniques to a range of offence types, including homicides, sex offences and drugs offences. This culminates in an assessment structure where you will be required to defend your interpretation of a professional evidential reporting statement (case report) in a mock courtroom in a traditional adversarial style.
We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.
We are proud to teach the latest techniques and explore real world challenges with a global outlook.
How you'll learn
You will be taught via a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars and group tutorials including use of problem-based learning and case studies.
In addition, you will have laboratory sessions in Coventry University’s state-of-the-art SuperLab+, where up to 240 students can study at once, alongside our experienced teaching team (staff subject to change)4. Here you will learn to carry out a range of experimental techniques, so that you could confidently walk into a graduate job having already used the very same equipment used in many commercial, police and research laboratories.
Forensic laboratory sessions take place in the immersive crime scene simulation houses, outdoor search and decomposition facilities, as well as a realistic mock courtroom4, where you will gain first-hand experience in collecting, preserving, analysing and presenting forensic evidence. Students will also be supported by a variety of online resources and the virtual learning environment.
Teaching contact hours
The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 15 contact hours per week in the first and second year dropping to around 12 contact hours per week in the third and final year as you become a more independent learner.
Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 20 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.
The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, practical sessions and online classes and tutorials.
As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the University may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2022/2023 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.
This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module.
Assessment methods include:
- Group work
- Individual Assignments
- Laboratory competency tests
The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.
International experience opportunities
Using case studies, the course aims to be as authentic as possible whilst considering both current and future developments within forensic science in the UK and in a global context. The global outlook and extensive (and universally recognised) science-based content provides students with core knowledge that can be applied to a variety of forensic fields and should give students the confidence and skills to work both in the UK and abroad.
The course provides many opportunities to enhance your study experience. There are options to take part in field trips, improve transferable skills and competencies and to explore careers. The course also includes the opportunity for a year of study abroad, taken between years two and three. You may also be able to interact with students at overseas institutions through Collaborative Online International Learning projects or via international co-creation events hosted at European universities2. Recent examples have included collaboration at Universities in Spain and Czech Republic.
This course will provide students with a journey of discovery into the different areas of forensic science, from investigating simulated crime scenes to analysing evidence and then presenting it in court. Students will benefit from a highly practical course that will encourage team working and problem solving, challenging students to demonstrate the scientific knowledge through a range of methods from novel lab-based research to courtroom assessments.
Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.
|Requirement||What we're looking for|
|A level||BBC to include Biology and/or Chemistry. Excludes General Studies|
|BTEC||DMM in the BTEC Level 3 Extended National Diploma in a Biological or Chemical Science subject. Excludes Health and Social Care|
|IB Diploma||30 points to include 5 points in Biology or Chemistry at Higher level|
|GCSE||5 GCSEs at grade 4 / C or above (or equivalent) to include English, Mathematics and two Sciences|
|Access to HE Diploma||To include 30 level 3 credits above Merit of which 15 must be Distinction in Biology or Chemistry units. Plus GCSE English and Mathematics at grade 4 / C or above|
We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.
Are you eligible for the Fair Access Scheme?
We believe every student should have the opportunity to dream big, reach their potential and succeed, regardless of their background. Find out more about our Fair Access Scheme.
Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:
You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.
Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.0 overall (with at least 5.5 in each component area)
If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.
Not got the required grades? We offer this degree with an integrated foundation year.
Fees and funding
2023/24 tuition fees.
|UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man||£9,250 per year||Not available|
|EU|| £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
£18,300 per year without EU support bursary**
|International||£18,300 per year||Not available|
If you choose to do a work placement2, you should consider travel and living costs to cover this. There is also a tuition fee3 of £1,250 that will cover your academic support throughout your placement year.
For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.
We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.
The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:
- Any optional overseas ﬁeld trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
- Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad)
*Irish student fees
The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.
**EU support bursary
Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in-line with that of UK students. Students studying a Degree with a Foundation Year with us are not eligible for the bursary.
How do you know if you need to pay UK or international tuition fees?
We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.
If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.
This course is taught predominantly in the Alison Gingell building at the Coventry University main campus and you will benefit from its state-of-the-art SuperLab+ where students learn to carry out a range of experimental techniques using the same equipment found in many hospital, commercial, police and research laboratories.
Forensic sessions take place in the immersive crime scene simulation houses, outdoor search and decomposition facilities, as well as a realistic mock courtroom, where students gain first-hand experience analysing and presenting forensic evidence4.
Our state-of-the-art SuperLab+ can hold up to 250 students at one time and has facilities for cell culture and equipment for microscopy and growing microorganisms aerobically and anaerobically, DNA, RNA and protein extraction and analysis, and forensic testing.
Analytical Chemistry Suite
In the Analytical Chemistry Suite you will be able to apply your practical and theoretical knowledge to examine and analyse crime scene evidence. We use new generation chromatography and spectrometric techniques to analyse a range of materials ranging from pharmaceutical agents to cosmetics, soils, drinks and toxins.
Crime Scene Houses
In our onsite Crime Scene houses you will be able to evaluate simulated crime scenes and work as a team to collect and appraise evidence ready for further laboratory analysis.
Careers and opportunities
This course focuses on developing graduates with the professional attributes to seek employment in forensic science roles such as a DNA analyst, toxicologist, ballistics, fire investigator and particulate analyst. Many of the skills needed in forensic science such as sterile technique, the importance of good record-keeping, teamwork, digital fluency, ethical integrity, professionalism and problem-solving are valued by employers.
This coupled with the multidisciplinary science focus of the course means that on successful completion of this course graduates will also have the key skills needed to seek employment opportunities in areas outside forensic science in laboratory or non-laboratory roles, something supported at level 6 when we also consider broader scientific opportunities. Students are encouraged from the start of their course to be career-aware and employment-ready and they are supported to develop the skills needed for placement and job applications. The course team has strong links with the Talent Team, to promote appropriate skills development, careers awareness and work experience opportunities (subject to availability).
Our students are equipped to pursue a range of careers. The extensive science content supports employment in research and industry and provides students with core knowledge that can be applied to a variety of forensic fields, from police scientific support roles such as Crime Scene Investigators or Fingerprint Examiners, to laboratory Forensic Scientists, as well as wider-scientific fields post-graduation, for example in the environmental, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and food analysis industries. The course also prepares graduates for a range of careers, such as teaching, sales, financial services, data analysis, scientific writing, and postgraduate study.
How to apply
Full-time students applying to start in September 2023 can apply for this course through UCAS from 6 September 2022. Read our application pages to find out your next steps to apply.
Part-time students should apply directly to the university.
If you'd like further support or more information about your course get in touch with us today.
Full-time students applying to start in September 2023 should apply directly to the university.How to apply
For further support for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree view our International hub.
You can also download our International guide which contains lots of useful information about our courses, accommodation and tips for travel.
Get in touch with us today for further advice and guidance.
Coventry University together with Coventry University London Campus, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the “University”) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.
The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.
2UK and international opportunities
Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or International opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel COVID and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand the visa requirements, please contact the International Office.
The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.
For International Students, we may increase fees each year but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.
Due to COVID-19, some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) and some non-academic offerings (particularly in relation to international experiences), may vary from those advertised and may have reduced availability or restrictions on their use.
By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the 2023/24 contract can be found here. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.