Forensic science is the study of gathering evidence from past occurrences, which is usually part of court proceedings or a criminal investigation. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – (Learn more – Postgraduate personal statements).
Students who want to become a Crime Scene Investigator or Analyst need to be aware it is a long process, usually through undergraduate, 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.
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.
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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