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
Part-time 2 Years September Glyntaff A
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Glyntaff A
Part-time 2 Years September Glyntaff A

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

  • Biological Evidence and DNA Analysis (20 credits)
    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 Techniques and Quality in the Forensic 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, Infrared Spectroscopy 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. By completing this module, you will be able to complete many of the aspects required to work within a laboratory, including; preparation of SOPs. repeatability studies, intra- and inter-day variation studies, calculation of precision, accuracy, LODs, LOQs and signal to noise factors, together with the use of laboratory equipment and analytical instrumentation. You will perform a validation on an analytical method, whilst ensuring that the requirements of ISO17025 are fulfilled from a practical perspective.

  • Analytical 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. 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.

  • Interpretation, evaluation and presentation of casework (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.

  • Crime Scene Management (20 credits)
    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.

  • Project Management and Techniques (20 credits)
    You will receive training in project management, entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and business skills. This will put you in good stead for the management of major projects in laboratories, research, or other industries.

  • Major 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 are generally 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.


The following data explains how each module is assessed:

Advanced DNA Analysis and Profiling (20 credits)
Exam 40%
Coursework 60%

Analytical Techniques and Quality in the Forensic Laboratory (20 credits)
100% coursework

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%


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.

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

Research-informed teaching

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 either a course accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in forensic science, forensic chemistry, forensic biology, or, forensic investigation.
Applications from students holding a 2:2 BSc (Hons) degree, which includes chemistry are invited, other applicants will be considered on an individual basis.

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 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9250

  • Full-time International:  £14700 

  • Part-time UK:  £1030 per 20 credits

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

Student Perks

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.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

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.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
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.


The University of South Wales is offering a 20% reduction in tuition fees for all University of South Wales* graduates starting a taught/online*** MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, DBA course or a PcET/PGCE course from September 2022 (this includes students starting their course in January/February 2023). T's and Cs apply. Click here for more details and eligibility criteria: USW Postgraduate Alumni Discount 2022/23

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.