MSci Forensic Science with Criminology

Would you like to gain an insight into criminal profiling and crime scene investigation, while exploring how and why crimes are committed?

Our four-year MSci course offers study of subjects such as crime scene analysis and management, and advanced physical evidence analysis. You’ll complete an independent forensic science research project and you can study for a PRINCE2 Foundation qualification in project management.

Accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, the MSci Forensic Science with Criminology allows you to explore your interests in the scientific and forensic investigation of crime, while exploring the nature, consequences and prevention of criminal behaviour.

You’ll be introduced to many traditional fields of crime scene analysis, including the scientific investigations of fires and homicides, plus a range of approaches from the field of chemistry.



2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
3K2B Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A

Our four-year MSci Forensic Science with Criminology course offers study of subjects such as crime scene analysis and management, and advanced physical evidence analysis. You’ll complete an independent forensic science research project and you can study for a PRINCE2 Foundation qualification in project management.

You will explore crime scene investigation and the criminal justice sector with analytical and forensic investigations, to provide a full scientific and statistical evaluation of evidence. What's more, you'll study relationships between professionals in the criminal justice sector, including how forensic scientists work alongside police forensic teams and the wider criminal justice sector to achieve successful prosecutions. 

Year One: Forensic Science with Criminology Degree

  • Introduction to Forensic Science
    This module will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the technical and practical aspects of selected topics within forensic science. Areas covered include forensic geology; forensic odontology and anthropology; homicide investigation; criminal profiling; forensic entomology; accident investigation; current and anticipated crime trends and legal systems in England and Wales.

  • Introduction to Criminalistics
    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.

  • Key Skills for Forensic Practice
    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.

  • Crime Analysis, Criminal Justice and the Courts
    This module aims to provide students with the scientific tools to evaluate crime, its origin and context, prevalence, and effects upon victims and society. The student will gain an overview of the classification of criminal offences and the forensic evidence associated with each. Areas covered include, statistical methods for data analysis, patterns and trends in criminal offences, police recorded crimes, organised and cross-border crimes, victimisation, crime prevention and methods to evaluate a broad range of forensic evidence.

  • Chemical Concepts for the Forensic Sciences
    This module will introduce the student to fundamental concepts in physical and inorganic chemistry that support the forensic sciences, allowing the student to develop problem solving and mathematical skills that will support their application of fundamental chemical concepts. Students will study the following topics, equilibrium, including acid dissociation and the concept of pH, kinetics, thermodynamics, atomic structure, models for bonding, shapes of molecules and an introduction to transition metal and coordination chemistry.

  • Fundamental Chemistry for the Forensic Sciences
    This module will introduce the student to fundamental concepts in organic, biological and analytical chemistry and support the development of further analytical skills in the forensic sciences. Areas covered include, bonding within organic molecules, functional group recognition, structural isomers, stereoisomers, conformers of alkanes, intermolecular forces, fundamental reactions and mechanisms in organic chemistry, steric factors, carbohydrates and amino acids.

Year Two: Forensic Science with Criminology Degree

  • Volume Crime Scene Investigation
    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 Evidence
    Through studying this module you will understand the role, duties and limitations of expert witnesses within forensic science provision. In addition to this, you will develop competence in analysing; summarising, presenting, organising and reporting on trace evidence types and receive instruction on the retrieval and evaluation of data and information from accident scenes.

  • Investigative Approaches
    This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the reactive and proactive approaches to criminal investigations and the capacity to appreciate the complex nature of offender motivation and consequences for the crime scene. The student will be introduced to the complex field of forensic psychology, to understand its role and uses in the criminal investigation procedure, police investigative approaches and investigative interviewing.

  • Sentencing, the Penal System and Rehabilitation
    This module aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview of sentencing and the penal system, and their roles in offender management. Students will gain an insight into various approaches utilised in the process of offender rehabilitation, including, sentencing in England and Wales, the penal system, probation, prison and imprisonment, rehabilitation and restorative justice.

  • Spectroscopy
    The module aims to broaden and deepen the students’ knowledge of the principles and applications of molecular spectroscopy and apply spectroscopic techniques and data to solve chemical based questions. Students will learn the concepts and classification of spectroscopic techniques, electronic spectroscopy, vibrational spectroscopy, emission spectroscopy, uses of spectroscopy in organic chemistry experiments and NMR spectroscopy.

  • Analytical Chemistry
    This module introduces the principles and applications of modern analytical chromatographic methods, sample preparation and instrumentation, with a particular emphasis upon their applications in forensic, toxicological, pharmaceutical and environmental analysis. The student will acquire an understanding of the criteria in the selection of analytical techniques and learn to develop a capacity for the critical appraisal of the quality and significance of analytical data, and instil Good Laboratory Practice.

Year Three: Forensic Science with Criminology Degree

  • Research, Employability and Professional 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 courtroom 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.

  • Specialist Subjects in Crime Investigation
    This module aims 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, and traceability including a focus on evidence, and the associated legal frameworks and penalties. Areas covered, include, drugs, new psychoactive substances and alcohol, environmental crime, organised corporate crime, extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.

  • Case Management and Review
    This module aims to provide students with evaluation and interpretation skills concerning forensic case management. Students will gain the knowledge of current quality and standards requirements and procedures embedded within Forensic Casework and associated pre- and post-examination processes. This is a largely independent study module, whereby students will produce a review of a major case, or a compilation of smaller cases, to evaluate forensic evidence integrity, continuity and storage of exhibits, policing, court processes and case management.

  • Fire and Explosion Investigation
    This module provides an in-depth and detailed overview of fire science, fire scene investigation, fatal fire investigation, vehicle fire investigation, explosives and explosion scene investigation.

  • Forensic Microscopy
    You will develop an understanding of the optic principles involved in microscopy and appreciate the microscope as an instrument to examine and analyse specimens, which are applicable to forensic science. In addition to this, you will develop a capacity to interpret images and draw conclusions from these observations. Samples may include textiles, fibres, food and drugs, soil, pollen and tissue samples. In addition to this, you will gain an understanding in, and hands on experience of using the Scanning Electron Microscope.

  • Advanced Analytical Chemistry
    This module will broaden the student’s knowledge of analytical chemistry and practical skills through the study of modern instrumental methods of analysis. Students will develop the ability to critically assess the relative merits of named analytical techniques and analytical data.

Year Four: MSci Forensic Science with Criminology Degree

  • Laboratory Research Project
    In this 40-credit module, you will complete an individual piece of research with a forensic context in one of our laboratories. There may also be an opportunity to work alongside a forensic science service provider on a collaborative project. You will produce a scientific dissertation, and a conference poster, which will be evaluated in an end of year student conference.

  • Project Design, Management and Enterprise
    In this module, you will have the opportunity to complete an internationally recognised PRINCE2 foundation certificate. You will also prepare a full research proposal, and engage in activities alike Dragon’s Den where you will explore your entrepreneurial capabilities.

  • Interpretation, Evaluation and Presentation of Coursework
    This module trains you in a range of interpretation and evaluation skills that you will require in a future forensic practitioner role. You will understand the requirements of the role of an expert witness and reporting scientist. You will also be introduced to further Bayesian statistics, and the chemometric approach to data analysis.

  • 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.

  • Advanced Physical Evidence Analysis and Crime Scene Management
    This advanced module will provide you with an understanding and practical experience of advanced scene analysis and professional scene management using UK standard operational procedures in volume and major crime. Highly practical in nature supported by lectures and tutorials.


Modules in years one to three are taught linearly across three academic terms, meaning that you will usually receive a lecture in each module every week, allowing you to build up your knowledge throughout the year. This will also be supplemented by practical work in our Crime Scene Training Facility or in our laboratories, and especially in year one, small group tutorials to offer you extra academic study support.

In years two and three, we encourage a greater level of independent directed study, and there is greater time spent developing your analytical skills in our laboratories.

In year four, modules are taught through the block-mode approach, meaning study is more intensive, and is focussed upon one module at one time. This allows you to conduct longer, more involved practicals and research-style experiments to gain greater exposure to these higher level skills. The research project is usually taken over the summer in year four.

Research-informed teaching

Our forensic science research is driven by our backgrounds as practitioners – either working with UK police, forensic service providers or through academia. We are interested in applied science projects that have practical applications in forensic case work scenarios.


You will be assessed using a broad range of methods which will focus upon your academic knowledge and practical and vocational skills, including written laboratory reports, evidence case files, expert witness style statements, online tests, short essays and in-term and end of year formal examinations and tests.

You will also create a written scientific dissertation in year four which is evidence of the outcomes of your research project. Oral presentations and cross-examinations also form part of the assessment methods to encourage you to develop your communication skills for the workplace and the courtroom. You will also complete a PRINCE2 foundation examination in year four.


The MSci Forensic Science with Criminology programme is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.



You will train in our Forensic Science facilities where you will learn key skills in our purpose-built laboratories and in our scenes of crime house.

You'll gain practical experience using state-of-the-art instrumentation scenarios found in modern forensic analysis laboratories, plus comprehensive training in crime scene investigation protocols by conducting casework-based experiments and processing simulated scenarios in our Crime Scene Training Facility on campus.


Entry criteria detail typical offers but USW considers all applications on an individual basis which means that we could make offers based on qualifications, personal profile and experience. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.

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

BBC to include Chemistry and another Science but to exclude General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Grade C and BB at A Level to include Chemistry and another Science but to exclude General Studies

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit in a relevant subject to include Chemistry modules

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 30 overall including a score of 5 in Chemistry and one other Science subject at Higher Level. You will also need to obtain a score of 5 or above in English at standard level.

Typical Access to HE Offer

An Access to Higher Education Diploma Science with 60 credits overall to include 45 level 3 credits equating to 18 Distinctions, 24 Merits and 3 Passes to include Biology and Chemistry modules

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

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.

Find out how to pay your tuition fees in full or by payment plan.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

International Scholarships are available for self-funding international students.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13800 

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.

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU 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

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

Employment prospects for those with a MSci Forensic Science with Criminology degree are very good. You will have a much increased set of practical skills to offer employers, including skills in research, method development and project management Analytical Scientists such as forensic scientists have a wealth of career opportunities available to them in the field of forensics and elsewhere. We would anticipate that most graduates will obtain positions as scientists in laboratories with forensic science service providers such as in toxicology or physical evidence examination laboratories, or related analytical industries where quality assurance and the use of instrumentation for analyte quantification or detection plays a significant part of the process.

With experience and employment, graduates should have the scope to aspire to becoming reporting scientists, expert witnesses or laboratory managers. Good analytical scientists have the capacity to work in the area, and in teaching or research. Additionally, your background in criminology should allow you to further study within this subject area in terms of research, or work in the wider criminal justice sector.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW Forensic Science 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.