Subject Guide

Forensic Science Degree

Uni Compare  · Nov 30th 2021

Forensic science is the study of gathering evidence from past occurrences, which is usually part of court proceedings or a criminal investigation.

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As a highly competitive field, forensic science degree jobs can be hard to come by, but the best graduates should find roles in the kind of crime investigation departments they’ve been dreaming of throughout their undergraduate degree in forensic science. (Many of these roles require a long journey through academia, so do read our section on postgraduate pathways further down the page).

Additionally, there are a number of fascinating and valuable career alternatives for forensic science degree UK graduates who can’t find (or choose not to pursue) a role in the darkest corners of human behaviour.

Forensic Science Degree

What to do with a forensic science degree

Your forensic science degree can help you enter the world of toxicology. This position involves analysing blood, hair, or other bodily samples for the presence of drugs or anomalous chemicals, and can see you working in a range of different fields, from the post-mortem table, to competitive sports, the probation service, customs and border control, or medical analysis labs.

Similarly, you might work in a lab as an analytical chemist, focussing on new drug formulation, testing efficacy, dosage, side effects etc. Or if you prefer physics to chemistry and biology, an engineering scientist could be just the thing for you, mapping pathways and processes of buildings and vehicle incidents, which is touched on a little bit less in an online forensic science degree.

A forensic anthropologist works in archaeology and analysis of human bones, whilst an odontologist specialises in teeth, although this is also touched on in a criminology and forensic science degree as well. The human mind is the focus of forensic psychology, whilst someone interested in every aspect might pursue pathology, the first jobs with forensic science degree we touched on that involves crime scene attendance and autopsy work, which is further expanded on in a masters degree in forensic science.

A bit too much blood and guts for your taste? Let’s look at a range of forensic science degree jobs that could suit you, and trust us, there are a lot of jobs with a forensic science degree available.

Students will gain critical thinking skills, through logic and reasoning to identify solutions, approaches and conclusions to problems.

What can you do with a forensic science degree?

After meeting all the forensic science degree entry requirements and working yourself to the bone (forensics pun alert!) to earn your BSc, you might decide that you never want to see a drop of blood again. No problem…

Let’s start with the fastest-growing section of forensics right now, as it presents the most opportunities for students with a forensic science degree: Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland all have cyber crime, and they all have police departments. Therefore, working as a digital scientist or computer forensic expert could be a great opportunity for forensics grads. You would be analysing digital footprints to counteract fraud, ID theft, electoral interference, hacking, data theft, virus, spyware and malware attacks, and more.

If computers aren’t really your thing (which means you likely wouldn’t be suited to a forensic science online degree), and you turn green at the sight of a corpse, you’re still in luck.

The job of a document examiner is to analyse documentation for age, authorship, origins and authenticity. Other, more general, forensic science degree jobs include joining the police force or carrying out different kinds of lab work. Even wider still, your analytical skills could be helpful for a role in market research, or as a scientific writer for journals, textbooks, print and online publications, so there are always plenty of degree in forensic science jobs. Take time to look at graduate training schemes, too, which are available in all kinds of industries and open to graduates with any good degree!

Forensic scientists keep society safe from dangerous citizens through the application of science within the criminal justice system. Forensics can cover an array of subjects including computer science, anatomy and anthropology as well as the most publicised part of the subject which is crime scene investigation, which you will learn about on a forensic science bachelor degree.

Although crime scene investigation has influenced television and film, students might find that the glamour of CSE will dissipate when they begin to study the subject, and human tragedy, science and the criminal justice system will overpower it.

Forensics became popular in the 1970s and remains an essential part of the criminal system today. Students of the subject will be prepared for a career in technical management, research and development, forensic labs, consultancy, public service and crime scene investigation.

Students will learn how to relate this material to criminal or civil cases, how to collect and assess physical evidence from a crime scene, how it relates to a crime, and serve as an important role in the judicial system.

Forensic science and criminology are related subject areas; however, criminologists theoretically establish the cause of a crime, and Forensic Scientists will determine and concentrate on the evidence and these require strong foundational qualifications prior to application, which means that your entry requirements for forensic science degree will change.

What A Levels do I need?

Students from all previous disciplines can apply for this degree; however, most universities will require at least one science A-level for admission. Some institutions may ask for grades AAB which include biology, chemistry or a science-based subject, although each degree course and university will differ in their entry requirements and UCAS entry point requirements.

Students are advised to conduct research and to establish what their chosen universities and degree courses set as entry requirements to ensure they understand what is needed to get onto the course.

You can also see our Forensic Science personal statement examples; these will help you to gain an insight into what you need for your personal statement.

Forensic Science Degree

What are my study options?

As forensic science studies a broad area including theoretical and practical modules, it is rarely seen as a joint degree – especially if students wish to become fully qualified and able to work for the criminal system. The practical elements tend to fall by the wayside when dealing with an online degree forensic science or an online masters degree programs in forensic science.

Students will learn the foundations of the area by learning foundations of Chemistry and Biology, Crime Scene Documentation, Chemical and Biological Analysis, Trace Level, Criminalistic Methods, Forensic Aspects and Investigation.

Students should expect that their skills and knowledge to increase and intensify as the degree, which typically lasts for three years, develops and the forensic science degree requirements change every year.

What should I expect from studying Forensic Science?

Students tend to explore the foundations, as mentioned above as well as Chemistry, Genetics, Criminal Psychology and Physiology when they start their course, as well as DNA profiling and compiling legal case studies as they develop through the degree and are touched on in a foundation degree in forensic science and then build on it from there.

How will I be assessed?

Students will be assessed through a variety of methods from written coursework, case studies, reports, examinations, as well as their crime scene documenting, analysis and investigation through practical methods. They will also be assessed on their forensic case reports, scientific evidence, and forensic DNA analysis and homicide crime scene investigation skills.

The way this course will be assessed with differ from each institution, so choosing the right university is essential for students to apply for a university that suits their preferences best.

What skills will I learn from studying Forensic Science?

Students will learn an array of skills through four main areas of research. Firstly, students will gain critical thinking skills, through logic and reasoning to identify solutions, approaches and conclusions to problems. Secondly, through the learning of safety and security, candidates will obtain skills in understanding policies and procedures to promote security conditions, and for the protection of data, property, evidence and people.

Additionally, students will gain knowledge of field-specific equipment, computer software and hardware, applications and programming. Lastly, candidates will gain awareness of the court and legal system, including, legal codes, court procedures, agency rules, knowledge of laws, government regulations, and the political process.

The job of a document examiner is to analyse documentation for age, authorship, origins and authenticity.

What happens after I graduate?

Many students choose to continue their studies to gain a postgraduate qualification, while others decide to enter the world of work and gain work as a Computer Forensic Examiner, Security Manager or train as a Police Detective, which is where a degree in forensic science can help a lot.

Not all Forensic Science degrees will be relevant, so you need to make sure that you have the right degree needed for forensic science.

Will it help me get a job?

Students who want to become a Crime Scene Investigator or Analyst need to be aware it is a long process, usually through a forensic science undergraduate degree, postgraduate and doctorate qualifications, and that their first degree is the beginning of a long process. However, a degree in Forensic Science will aid graduates in research and management roles in public and private sectors if they do not wish to continue their studies after undergraduate.

What types of jobs can I get from studying Forensic Science?

There is a significant demand for forensic science graduates within law enforcement, customs or investigatory agencies, and graduates will find employment as Analytical Chemists, Laboratory Technicians, and Forensic Scientists, within Criminal Justice or Toxicology, as well as the previous careers mentioned above, which is why a forensic science and psychology degree is so important for people.

What can I study after Forensic Science?

For those wishing to continue with their dreams of becoming a crime scene investigator can complete master’s programmes as an Evidence Technician, Forensic Toxicologist, Forensic Pathologist, Crime Scene Investigation and Intelligence Analyst or Officer.

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