BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation (Including Foundation Year)
Forensic and Archeological Sciences at USW is rated top in Wales for student satisfaction. National Student Survey 2022
Our Forensic Investigation degree allows students without a traditional science background, or those with a specific interest in this field, to acquire knowledge relating to the use of forensic techniques in a wide range of criminal investigations.
The Foundation course is for students who don’t meet the entry for the BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation degree. You’ll start by completing a foundation year, which provides well-structured support, allowing you to develop your scientific skills and knowledge. Once you have completed, you will start the first year of the Forensic Investigation degree.
Investigations could include drugs testing, consumer protection and authenticity, DNA analysis in food testing, wildlife crime and toxicological investigations linked to chemical and biological terrorism.
You’ll gain practical skills in crime scene and courtroom simulations, as well as analysis of forensic evidence. The degree will also teach you about the structure and processes that regulate the criminal justice system, and the law associated with criminal investigation.
Top 15 in the UK in Forensic Science (Guardian University Guide 2023)
You will study a diverse range of subject areas relevant to forensic investigation, including crime scene investigation, collection and analysis of evidence, the structure and processes which regulate the criminal justice system and laws associated with criminal investigation.
Foundation Year: Forensic Investigation Degree
Introduction to the Forensic Laboratory
Students will cover topics such as how to write and experimental lab report; observational skills; what are the basic essentials for a forensic lab; what can happen when evidence is compromised; introduction to quality and standards in the laboratory: requirements, regulation, failure, examples, impacts; basic health and safety; basic analytical science: what is it? How much is present?; forensic evidence composition.
Serious and Violent Crime
This module explores the definitions, characteristics, and behaviours of those engaged within serious, organised, and violent crime. The module will have a particular focus on specific offences, whilst also exploring how these crimes impact on society, the economy, and police investigations.
Introduction to Forensic Investigation
This will cover an introduction to critical thinking and the scientific process. What is an enquiry? What is an investigation? Basic processing tools and flows to solve an enquiry or investigation. Information gathering. Information analysis. Forming logical conclusions based on fact and scientific data.
You will examine forensic science as a discipline. Introduction to the core branches of forensic science, and identification of selected evidence types. The scope of forensic evidence and rules of forensic science. You will also cover case studies. Analysis of crime cases with special emphasis on investigation, the sifting and presentation of evidence and key issues raised in trials, plus key elements of Criminal Justice, the Criminal Justice system and the Courts.
Scientific Data Literacy
This module is designed to develop and support the students application of numerical literacy and data handling set in the broad context of science. It covers an introduction to quantitative science, units and measurement; the principles of basic arithmetic, BODMAS, and negative numbers; decimals and the use of significant figures, fractions, indices and scientific notation; the application of algebra and simplification/rearrangement of equations; the use of Excel, a scientists tool for manipulating data: its use to record, manipulate, analyse, and present data. I
Key Skills in Professional Development
Students will be introduced to academic life and expectations. Beginning with identifying their own strengths and weaknesses as an active learner, students will evaluate and reflect on their approach to learning and utilise new skills to improve their experience. Concepts and skills surrounding sourcing information, acknowledging the work of others, and information handling will be integrated to provide students with skills helpful for their future academic and lifelong studies.
Cyber Security and Forensics
This module allows you to develop an understanding of the key areas relating to cyber security and understand ethics relating to the protection of computer systems and data. You will also gain an awareness of tools and techniques used for digital forensics and computer security.
Year One: Forensic Investigation Degree
During the first year, you will receive an introduction to the various disciplines within the forensic science field and this will be complimented with practical experience gained through the examination of realistic simulated crime scenes from domestic burglaries to homicide within our suite of forensic laboratories and bespoke crime scene house. Other subject areas such as Policing, Health and Safety, Introductory Science and Mathematics will also be studied.
Introduction to Forensic Analysis
This module introduces students to the fundamental aspects of evidence processing techniques through a combination of laboratory-based training exercises and theory-based learning. Students will develop an appreciation of a range of laboratory techniques applied to trace particulates and biological evidence materials, including, search, recovery, creating professional contemporaneous case notes to contribute to the laboratory casefile, basic microscopy, and chemical testing for the presence of biological materials.
Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation
The practice of forensic science requires an understanding of a broad range of forensic topics and involves many investigative techniques. This module will provide you with the knowledge, practical understanding and technical ability relating to the investigation of crime. Here you will study introduction to crime scene investigation; documentation; collection and preservation of physical evidence; interpretation of crime scene evidence and crime scene reconstruction.
Law, Governance and the Criminal Justice System
This module will introduce you to the legislative and criminal justice system of England and Wales. This will include identifying the role of the police and associated agencies, who work in this environment. You will also examine the role of governance within the policing and security environments.
Fundamental Scientific Principles for Forensic Investigation
Within this module you will be introduced to the concepts of scientific investigation, measurement, accuracy and essential chemical and biological theories and practices involved in forensic investigation. This will include assisting you to develop good laboratory technique within these areas, but also an introduction to chemistry, cell and molecular biology, serology, genetics and DNA.
Introduction to Criminology and Crime Analysis
In this module you will learn about the scientific and statistical tools used to evaluate crime along with its origin and context, prevalence, and effects upon victims and society. You will be given an overview of the classification of criminal offences and links to intelligence and evidence.
Key Skills for Forensic Investigation
This module will provide you with an appreciation of the principles of safe working in laboratories, accident prevention and the promotion of safety in the workplace and the consequences for health due to exposure to hazards. You will develop an understanding of the information concerning hazards in performing experimental work and in the calculation of the probability of an accident and to estimate risk. Additionally the use of IT for scientific working, accessing journals and referencing skills are provided.
Year Two: Forensic Investigation Degree
During the second year of study, you will further enhance your skills through the analysis of evidence in the laboratory, learning about the various chemical and biological analyses that are used within forensic laboratories. Specialist disciplines such as photography, Forensic Earth Science, Computer Forensics and microscopy are introduced here.
Analysis and Interpretation of Evidence
To extend the student’s practical capabilities and knowledge pertaining to particulate and biological trace evidence analysis with a particular focus on the use of sector-standard instrumentation, quality control processes and sector-standard documentation. To introduce students to the interpretation and presentation of scientific data generated from analytical techniques.
Volume Scene Examination
Within this module you will gain practical digital imaging, crime scene photography and video experience recording a variety of crime scenes scenarios. This will involve studying the theoretical aspects of photography, and equipment: Films and film speeds, camera formats, focal length, aperture and depth of field, lighting techniques and flash. In addition to this, you will gain practical training in core skills for the crime scene investigator within a series of simulated volume crime scenes including vehicle examination.
Forensic Examination of Human Remains
To introduce students to the strategic and unique aspects involved in the analysis of human remains. To provide a detailed description of scientific and technological methods used in the investigation of victims of crime or natural disasters.
Digital Forensics (e-crime)
You will develop knowledge and evaluate the tools and techniques associated with the creation and delivery of a computer forensic service within a team environment. You will learn to demonstrate knowledge and skill in the processes required to manage a forensic project, from initial seizure to presenting evidence in the courtroom.
Forensic Psychology and Investigative Strategies
In this module you will gain an understanding of the reactive and proactive approaches to criminal investigations. You will understand the complex nature of offender motivation and consequences for the crime scene. The module will also include an introduction to the complex field of forensic psychology and its role and uses in the criminal investigation procedure.
Science in Practice for Forensic Investigation
You will learn about the prevalence, abuse and effects and forensic examination of drugs and alcohol. This will include the sports doping, hair analysis and in the investigation of consumer products. In addition to this, you will gain an appreciation of the role of earth science data in the forensic examination of crime scenes or reported episodes.
Year Three: Forensic Investigation Degree
You will be introduced to more complex Forensic Investigation areas such as Fire and Explosion and Specialist areas of Forensic Investigation. Emphasis will still be placed on the Policing strand of the course and the importance of crime scene processing, and evidence handling in the laboratory. You will also undertake an independent literature review research project.
Research Project and Employability Skills
This will involve the scientific evaluation of cases and evidence and statistical evaluation of forensic evidence and professional ethics and standards. Cases will include forensic pathology, homicide, suicide and accidental death amongst others. In addition to this, you will be introduced to the court room processes and the role of the expert witness, barristers, cross-examination and evidence in chief. As part of this module, you will conduct a literature review which will involve a critical evaluation of primary information and data on a selected topic within forensic science.
Forensic Casework and the Expert Witness
To allow the development and application of teamwork, critical thinking and forensic skills through the experimental design and processing of a simulated forensic case with particular attention to DNA, paint and glass evidence, QA and the interpretation of analytical data using statistical methods. To allow the student to consolidate and advance their understanding of the regulations applying to forensic practitioners when analysing, interpreting and presenting evidence and to develop knowledge and skills to be able to provide witness testimony.
Road Traffic Policing and Vehicle Investigation
To receive theoretical and practical instruction in traffic incident examination and interpretation, including GIS technology, speed calculations and vehicle penetration profiles. To critically analyse complex road policing legislation.
Specialist Subjects in Criminology
To provide students with a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of a wide range of specialist and serious offences including the study of their origins, offender motivation, traceability including a focus on evidence, and the associated legal frameworks and penalties. To provide students with an opportunity to appreciate serious and organised crime at a national, regional, and global level.
Specialist Evidence and its Investigation
Within this module you will be provided with an understanding of a variety of specialist investigation fields including wildlife forensics, forensic engineering and the investigation of biological and radiological hazards. In addition to this, you will learn about bioterrorism and its’ investigation and wildlife forensics.
Major Scene Examination
This module aims to allow you to develop a detailed knowledge of the forensic criminal investigation process and gain a critical understanding applied to a range of specialist and serious offences described as major incident investigations. You will apply associated learning through exposure to relevant and related simulated major scene scenarios and case studies.
You’ll study several cases and learn about the forensic techniques used to solve the crime, and be able to critically appraise and evaluate forensic approaches.
The Forensic Investigation course will be delivered through a series of lectures, tutorials and practical classes. In addition to this, students are expected to undertake both directed and independent learning, reading around the subject area.
On an average week, students may be expected to attend the following:
- Six lectures
- Three to four hours of tutorials or workshops
- Up to 10-12 hours of practical work
- Independent directed study
The timetable may be spread over all five days of the taught week (Monday to Friday inclusive) or it may for example, allow students half a day or a full day free from contact classes. This is subject to change on a weekly basis depending upon when individual activities for modules are timetabled.
Guest lecturers are invited to speak to students on a range of topics. Previous topics have included fire investigation, ballistics cases and identification of bodies from mass graves.
Students will be assessed by various means, including written examinations, in class tests, essays, reports, practical exercises, presentations, assessed tutorials and computer assignments. Some modules will be continually assessed and others may have an end of year examination.
You’ll undertake simulated investigations in our multi-room Crime Scene Training Facility, ranging from domestic burglaries and vehicle examinations to more complex scenes such as arson and homicide.
Our laboratories are of a standard you would expect to find in industry and include a dedicated organic chemistry laboratory; a combined inorganic/physical chemistry laboratory; two large general instrument laboratories that house analytical instruments such as UV/visible spectrometers, infrared spectrometers, fluorescence spectrometers, optical emission spectrometers, and gas and liquid chromatographs; a dedicated student research laboratory and two specialist laboratories for performing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy.
In addition, students have access to the laboratories and instrumentation in the University’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) which include ultra-high performance liquid chromatograph tandem mass spectrometers, ion chromatographs and headspace gas chromatographs.
You will be taught by staff in our analytical and forensic science team which consist of specialist forensic science practitioners, experts in DNA analysis and bloodstain pattern analysis, experts in forensic toxicology, crime scene investigators and chartered chemists.
- Mark Boulter, course leader
- Helen Higgins
- Dr Paul Jones
- Dr Sorcha Diskin
- Dr Gareth Powell
- James Nutt
- Peter Eden
- Sharan Johnstone
- Jacqueline Spicer
- Huw Smart
- Allison Turner
- James Cruwys
- Richard Law
- Andrew Bellamy
- Clare Johnson
- Tracie McKinney
- Peter Miedziak
- Dr Duncan Pirrie
- Dr Rehana Karim
- Dr Jaime Massanet-Nicolau
- Dr Christian Laycock
- Dr Daniel Gaudio
- Dr Meirion Pugh
- Sheri Murrell
- Cara Latcham
- Emma Derbi
We also employ several specialists within the forensic field to deliver training on this course to enhance your study
We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.
If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.
This entry criteria details typical offers, however, USW has a Contextual Admissions Policy and considers eligible applicants on an individual basis. Under the Policy we could make a personalised offer based on aspects of the UCAS application or have results considered individually when you receive them. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy Statement.
Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.
GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 3 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C/Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances
Please note that whilst this course does not require a DBS Check for entry, some professions will not consider candidates who have certain types of criminal convictions. Therefore, if you have a criminal conviction and you are considering a particular career path we would recommend that you check with the relevant professional body or refer to their recruitment policy to make sure that your conviction will not disadvantage you.
Typical A-Level Offer
Typical Welsh BACC Offer
Typical BTEC Offer
BTEC Extended Diploma Pass Pass Pass or BTEC Diploma Pass Pass in a relevant subject
Typical IB Offer
Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points from Higher Levels to include Science or Maths.
Typical Access to HE Offer
Pass Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 48 UCAS Tariff points
International Entry Requirements
We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.
If your current qualifications don't meet the entry requirements for entry onto year 1 of your chosen undergraduate degree, we offer one-year International Foundation Programmes through our pathway partnership with QAHE to help you reach the level required for progression. For more information visit our Pathway website.
In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.
However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.
Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.
August 2023 - July 2024 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: TBC
August 2024 - July 2025 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: TBC
At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.
Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.
As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.
|Kit / Equipment||
Students are encouraged to equip themselves with a suitable cotton laboratory coat, suitable for working in a chemical laboratory, and a pair of personal protective laboratory goggles, although the School does provide these items. Students who are successful in securing an industry-based project may, in a small number of cases, be required to purchase additional personal protective equipment as specified by the specific organisation or company.
Students who successfully secure a placement in industry to complete their major research project would be expected to pay their own travel costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.
Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs
Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).
To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.
Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly.
The BSc Forensic Investigation degree will help you develop the academic, vocational and personal skills needed to pursue a variety of careers. These include roles in crime scene and forensic investigation units, and in the wider criminal justice sector. The Forensic Investigation course is designed to also develop transferrable skills that you can apply to a range of occupations requiring a scientific analytical background.