MSc Analytical and Forensic Science
The MSc Analytical and Forensic Science has been designed to provide expert laboratory training and help you secure employment in analytical science, DNA analysis or forensic science sectors.
Accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, the MSc Analytical and Forensic Science course focuses on cutting edge research, the latest analytical techniques, and transferable and professional skills that will prepare you to practise as a professional analytical or forensic scientist.
The MSc Analytical and Forensic Science is building a reputation for producing excellent scientists and highly sought-after graduates. Our postgraduates have been offered employment in some of the most prestigious companies in the UK and Europe, in fields ranging from analytical toxicology to forensic DNA analysis.
You will study the following modules over a one-year period full time, or two years part-time:
- Current and Emerging Methods for DNA Analysis in Forensics and Medicine (20 credits)
You will gain a thorough understanding of DNA analysis and interpretation techniques that can be applied to Forensics and Medicine. There is practical training in a large range of advanced extraction techniques, quantitation, amplification and electrophoresis of DNA, through simulated case-work using our crime scene house and DNA analysis laboratory. Through this, students will be able to understand the methods needed for detecting biological evidence and the processes involved in obtaining the DNA profile from such material. Students will also learn about the testing of DNA for medical diagnostics using techniques such as DNA microarray sequencing.
- Analytical Techniques and Quality in the Laboratory (20 credits)
This module has been designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop your independent learning skills, which is a central part of postgraduate study. You will make use of a web-based learning package to gain the theoretical understanding of the following topics: HPLC, GC, GC-MS, LC-MS, Sample Preparation and Basic Laboratory Skills (laboratory safety, errors, volumetric lab equipment, measuring pH, UV-Visible Spectroscopy). This is supported with tutorial sessions with academic staff, to provide further explanation and support. The critical issues of performing analysis in an analytical forensic laboratory will be explored through practical sessions, during which you will undertake training in method validation principles and processes. You will perform a validation on an analytical method, whilst ensuring that the requirements of ISO17025 are fulfilled from a practical perspective.
- Analytical and Forensic toxicology (20 credits)
This module focuses on the detection and quantitation of a range of drugs of abuse in biological matrices such as blood, urine saliva and hair. You will receive a high level of practical laboratory training in several drug extraction methods and confirmation techniques such as GCMS and ICP-OES. This module will also explore the metabolism of compounds and how these can be used in the interpretation of results. Practical and simulation work will also include analysis of biological samples and blood plasma simulations.
- Statistical Analysis Tools and The Expert Witness (20 credits)
You will learn about the law as it relates to the forensic scientist and their relationship with the police, lawyers and courts, and the role of the expert witness. You will receive training from professional case working forensic scientists in how to draft expert witness statements and how to give testimony in court. You will also be provided with training in Bayesian theory as applied to forensic casework, together with training in Chemometrics, using mathematical and statistical methods enabling you to correlate quality parameters to analytical instrument data. This module will teach you the statistical tools required for the interpretation of data so you can critically evaluate this.
- Crime Scene Management and Advanced Scene Processing (20 credits)
You will learn how to effectively process major and specialist crime scenes through our simulation facilities, and will understand the specialist roles that are involved in the investigation process.
- Method Development for Trace Evidence Analysis (20 credits)
This module is designed for students to be able to develop, validate and apply suitable forensic analytical methods for trace and particulate evidence to obtain accurate and meaningful results. The module will ensure students understand the fundamental principles of method development for trace evidence analysis using instruments such as GRIM and SEM-EDX, FTIR and GC-IMS. It will also cover some case-based scenarios for evidence types such as glass, paint and GSR.
- Major Independent Research Project (60 credits)
A 60 credit research project allows you to customise the MSc and specialise in a chosen field to complete your dissertation. Projects will normally be completed at the University, there may be opportunities to complete a project with an industrial partner.
You will study your modules sequentially throughout the course. There are periods of self directed learning where you will study online material including journals, research notes and recommended books before engaging in hands on laboratory training, lectures and seminars on campus.
The MSc Analytical and Forensic Science course is available as a one year full time option, or two years part time option. You will complete a research project in your chosen area of specialisation.
Each module will provide up to 36 hours of contact time. For laboratory based modules you will spend most of your time conducting research and experiments in our laboratories. In an average week you may be designing toxicology experiments to investigate drug overdose cases, analysing human DNA from biological fluids or processing major crime scenes. We expect you to study approximately 150 hours in your own time for each 20 credit module to contribute to your learning.
There are usually opportunities for court visits to observe expert witness testimony, and laboratory visits to our industrial partners.
This MSc programme has been designed to meet the requirements of the analytical and forensic science industry. We have developed long standing partnerships with several key employers in industry and these partners have a significant contribution to the course, from helping to design the curriculum, to providing guest lectures and opportunities for student placements.
Please note that placement opportunities are subject to availability.
Modules are assessed in a combination of different approaches including in-term tests, practical and laboratory skills assessments, written coursework, laboratory reports, simulated case work files, preparation of witness statements, mock court sessions, oral presentation and dissertations.
The assessments have been designed to prepare students for employment after study and many of the skills are transferable to the workplace but also build on key skills such as independent working and team work.
There is no formal placement associated with this course, but there are often opportunities for students to carry out their research project in collaboration with industrial partners in the forensic science sector.
There is also an opportunity to conduct your research project in collaboration with Synergy Health with the possibility of working towards developing UKAS accredited methods of analysis -the ultimate standard in analytical science and a huge boost to your C.V.
The MSc Analytical and Forensic Science course focuses on practical investigative skills at the crime scene and in the forensic laboratory, and the presentation of these findings for legal purposes.
You will benefit from industry standard instruments, providing you with skills in a wide range of evidence examination techniques.
Our excellent facilities include a multi-room Crime Scene Training Facility, dedicated instrument laboratories and a DNA analysis suite. This gives you experience in crime scene examination and chain of custody processes, as well as potential issues at crime scenes.
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 trace evidence analysis, crime scene investigators and chartered chemists.
- Dr Paul Jones (Academic Subject Manager – Analytical and Forensic Science)
- Mark Boulter
- Katie Bird
- Zella Parry
- Dr Meirion Pugh
- Helen Higgins
- Yvonne Turner
- Zella Parry
- Dr Gareth Powell
- Mia Lambert
- Sheri Murrell
- Alexandra Maneta
- Hannah Minton
We also employ several specialists from industry to deliver training on this course to enhance your study.
Lecturers are members of our applied science research group which comprises biologists, chemists, ecologists, earth, environmental and forensic scientists. Broadly our research falls into two areas - Biological Science and Analytical and Physical Science. Our research includes both fundamental science and very applied science working alongside industrial partners. We have an international outlook with research projects and collaborations world-wide. Our research is supported through excellent dedicated research facilities.
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.
A 2:2 BSc (Hons) degree in a course accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in forensic science, forensic chemistry, forensic biology, or, forensic investigation.
Applications from graduates of other subject areas with a 2:2 classification are welcome and considered on an individual basis, and candidates should be able to demonstrate an understanding of forensic practices, biology and chemistry or relevant forensic work experience within their personal statement.
The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.
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.
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 2024 - July 2025 Fees
Full-time UK: £10250
Full-time International: £16000
Part-time UK: £1140 per 20 credits
August 2025 - July 2026 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: TBC
Part-time UK: 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 for working in a chemical laboratory, and a pair of personal protective laboratory goggles, although the Department does provide these PPE items. Students who are successful in securing an industry-based project may, in a small number of cases, be required to obtain additional personal protective equipment as specified by the specific organisation or company.
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.
There are many exciting employment opportunities in the analytical and forensic science sector. Key recruitment areas are DNA profiling, analytical chemistry and toxicological analysis. In these competitive fields, a postgraduate qualification will really make you stand out from the crowd. We have had an excellent response to the MSc analytical and forensic science from science companies across the UK. Major national companies regularly contact the University specifically asking for our MSc Analytical and Forensic Science graduates to apply for positions with them.
Our MSc graduates have been offered employment in toxicology, DNA and forensic science companies across the UK. An MSc award in Analytical and Forensic Science will demonstrate to employers the highest level of achievement and training.
Graduates may also progress to a science PhD or science research degree.
Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.