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.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Glyntaff A
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Glyntaff A

You will study the following modules over a one year period full time, or two years part time:

  • Advanced DNA analysis and profiling (20 credits)
  • Separation science (20 credits)
  • Analytical toxicology (20 credits)
  • Interpretation, evaluation and presentation of casework (20 credits)
  • Advanced crime scene and evidence analysis (20 credits)
  • Project design, management and enterprise (20 credits)
  • Laboratory research project (60 credits)

Module overview

DNA Analysis and Profiling
You will gain a thorough understanding of DNA analysis and interpretation techniques. 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.

Analytical Toxicology
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. Practical laboratory work will include method development and validation techniques and in addition we will focus on the challenging area of hair analysis for clinical and forensic toxicology.

Separation Science
You will gain knowledge of the basis and application of a number of novel analytical and extraction techniques such as chiral chromatography, supercritical fluid chromatography, solid phase microextraction and derivatisation techniques. You will also receive high level practical training in areas such as GCMS/MS, LCMS/MS and ICP-OES. You will also be fully trained in experimental design and effective method development. The module also focuses on instrument maintenance and trouble shooting, which are valuable skills in employment.

Advanced Crime Scene and Evidence Analysis
You will learn how to effectively process major and specialist crime scenes through our simulation facilities, and will study novel mapping techniques such as 3D scanning and LIDAR as applied to crime scene investigation.

Interpretation, Evaluation and Presentation of Casework
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 chemometrics and bayesian theory as applied to forensic casework.

Project Design, Management and Enterprise
You have the opportunity to complete a PRINCE 2 foundation certificate as part of this course, which will stand you in good stead for the management of major projects in laboratories. The PRINCE 2 award is a prestigious, internationally recognized qualification. You will also receive training in entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and business skills. Please note there is an additional fee of £1500.00 to study this module. This fee also includes laboratory costs.

A 60 credit research project allows you to customise the MSc and specialise in a chosen field.


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 2 years part time option. You will complete a research project in your chosen area of specialisation.

Each module will provide up to 48 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 investgiate drug overdose cases, analysing human DNA from biological fluids or scanning major crime scenes with the latest digital 3D technology. We expect you to study approximately 100 hours in your own time for each 20 credit module to contribute to your learning.

There are usually opportunties 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.

There is a bench fee of £1500 for this course. This fee is in addition to the standard fee for taught MSc programmes.


The following data explains how each module is assessed:

Advanced DNA Analysis and Profiling (20 credits):

Exam 40%
Coursework 60%

Separation Science (20 credits):

Exam 40%
Coursework 60%

Analytical toxicology (20 credits):

Exam 40%
Coursework 60%

Interpretation, Evaluation and Presentation of Casework (20 credits):

100% coursework

Advanced Crime Scene and Evidence Analysis (20 credits):

100% coursework

Project Design, Management and Enterprise (20 credits):

100% coursework
(This module also includes a separate Prince2 foundation course exam)

Laboratory Research Project (60 credits):

Dissertation (60%)
Presentation: 20%
Laboratory research plan and log: 20%



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.

We also employ several specialists from industry to deliver training on this course to enhance your study.

A 2:2 BSc (Hons) degree in either forensic science, forensic chemistry, forensic biology or a degree which includes chemistry. Other applicants will be considered on an individual basis.

Additional Fees

There is an additional fee of £1,500 for this course which covers the Prince2 Project Management course and laboratory costs.

Fees apply to new students starting a course in the academic year indicated. Full-time fees are per year and 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. USW Postgraduate Bursary is now available for new UK and EU students starting an eligible course in 2018-19. International Scholarships are also available for self-funding international students.

August 2018 - July 2019 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £6000

    Please note the full-time UK and EU fee is £9000, however USW is offering a full-time UK and EU bursary of £3000 which means students pay £6000

  • Full-time International:  £13000 

August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £25 - £100
Students are strongly encourged to equip themselves with a suitable cotton laboratory coat suitable for working in a chemical laboratory, and a pair of personal protective laboratory goggles. Students who are successful in securing an industry-based project may be required to purchase additional personal protective equipment as specified by the specific organisation or company for the place of project conduct. There is a potential cost involved in binding both third year and fourth year project dissertations.
Other: * £1500 - £2000
Bench fee


You can apply for a postgraduate loan as a contribution towards your course and living costs.

Apply directly to the University if you are applying for a part-time, professional or postgraduate course, an Erasmus/Exchange programme, the Legal Practice (part-time) course, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution.    

Apply now 

Admissions statement 

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 have even contacted 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.

Work experience

Students have the opportunity to undertake a work placement with Synergy Health Laboratories where they will undertake laboratory training. 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.

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.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.