Forensic Science MSc

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January, September

Full-time - January start, 16 months. September start, 12 months.

Part-time - January start, 33 months. September start, 28 months.


Expand your knowledge in all areas of forensic science, from gathering evidence at the crime scene itself, right through to the courtroom. Develop your skills and knowledge on our accredited course, as you collect and analyse evidence, equipping you to become a confident and effective practitioner.

Find out more about teaching options and studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.

Full description


Our course is enhanced by our excellent working relationships with most of the major employers in the forensic science industry, including the police and fire services.

This focus on theory and good laboratory practice, analytical measurement and research and management skills, together with our industry contacts will make you an attractive candidate for employment. It’ll open up career opportunities in specialist forensic science laboratories in the chemical, biological, environmental, pharmaceutical and law enforcement industries.

You’re also in the perfect position to continue your academic career and move up to our Forensic Science PhD.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • From crime scene through to the laboratory, you will discuss in depth the examination, analysis and interpretation of a range of criminalistics evidence. You will gain the theoretical and practical skills necessary for examining crime scenes and collecting the evidence. The basis of all forensic science is material collected and placed into context at the crime scene. Evidence incorrectly collected, packaged, stored or managed is compromised. Therefore, evidence recovery will be covered in depth, as well as related examination and analytical methods. As a result of this module you will prepare a witness statement and defend this in a moot court.
  • Discover how to identify the evidential value of diverse types of evidence, develop your awareness of the compositional variability of common evidence types, and how to identify and implement the most appropriate analytical methodologies. There will be an emphasis on the numerical evaluation of evidence using appropriate statistical methodologies, including Bayesian statistics and the use of the likelihood ratio. Microscopy is the most important tool in the armoury of the forensic scientist. Conventional visible light microscopy is now widely supplemented by a wide range of advanced techniques such as polarised light microscopy, comparison microscopy and phase-contrast microscopy (the latter being widely applied for the determination of refractive index and the identification of cellular material). In addition, the high spatial resolution of microscopes is now routinely applied to the 'front end' of advanced analytical devices such as infrared and Raman spectrometers. Evidential types to be considered will be hair, fibres, glass, paint, cosmetics, documents, fire debris.
  • This module is broadly divided into three categories: forensic genetics; forensic toxicology and chemical criminalistics. Forensic genetics involves the analysis of biological materials within a forensic science context. The presence of body fluids (e.g. blood, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions) in a case scenario is paramount in identifying what events took place at a crime scene. Their subsequent analyses through DNA profiling usually become part of most serious crime (murder, rape and assault) investigations. This module examines in depth the analysis of DNA and the challenges faced in forensic investigations. Emerging technologies including next generation sequencing (NGS), lab-on-a-chip, RNA profiling, DNA methylation are also covered. Forensic toxicology combines the specialist areas of analytical chemistry and pathology. In general, a forensic toxicologist detects and identifies foreign chemicals (toxins) in the body. In order to interpret toxicological findings accurately, it is essential that the toxicologist also has an understanding of the pharmacology of the substance in question and the pathological effects it has upon the body. The main analytical techniques covered are GC-MS and HPLC.
  • This module provides an opportunity to customise your Masters course to include subject areas not otherwise covered on the course. You may well have personal expertise or other professional interest that you wish to research. You will be required to originate, design and execute the topic with minimal involvement of staff. However, at the beginning of the module, you will be required to meet regularly with the module leader to ensure the topic selected and the work proposed is acceptable. This initial contact is the design phase. The work may include laboratory or other practical work provided that such work does not require formal ethical approval and can be conducted with minimal training and supervision (consistent with health, safety and COSHH requirements).
  • Develop your skills in preparation to undertake independent research at the MSc level. In particular, you will develop skills to get you started and lay the essential foundations for your Masters Research Project. During the module you will hone your specific research interests whilst recognising time constraints and other practical considerations. These usually set, and limit, the topic, the research approach and study, and the selection of suitable methods. The module will cover: the scientific process, logical thinking and experimental design; critical evaluation of the literature; data analysis using the freely available statistical software R from different perspectives to tackle a range of experiments; and writing a research proposal for an MSc project. You will learn through face-to-face tutorial-style sessions, supplemented by structured reading and exercises. During the module you will be supported in defining your area of study and planning your research project. As part of this process you will be expected to undertake a critical review of the appropriate literature and other information relevant to the proposed project. You will need to give consideration to the logistics required, provide experimental design criteria (where appropriate) at least for the initial stages of the proposed work, and also take account of all health and safety regulations (including COSHH) and appropriate ethical considerations. Designing research projects and writing research proposals and taking responsibility are crucial skills for careers at postgraduate level, where you may have to consider deadlines (time management), ethical issues and assessing risks. Experience of using freely available analytical software also gives you an advantage.
  • You now have the opportunity to select and explore in-depth, a topic that is of interest and relevant to your course in order to develop a significant level of expertise. You will demonstrate your ability to generate significant and meaningful questions in relation to your specialism, undertake independent research using appropriate, recognised methods based on current theoretical research knowledge and critically understand method and its relationship to knowledge. You will also develop a critical understanding of current knowledge in relation to the chosen subject and to critically analyse and evaluate information and data, which may be complex or contradictory, and draw meaningful and justifiable conclusions. You will develop the capability to expand or redefine existing knowledge; to develop new approaches to changing situations and/or develop new approaches to changing situations and contribute to the development of best practice. You will Demonstrate an awareness of and to develop solutions to ethical dilemmas likely to arise in their research or professional practice and communicate these processes in a clear and elegant fashion, and evaluate your work from the perspective of an autonomous reflective learner.


We use a range of assessment methods to enable both you and the university to check your progress during your studies and then to ensure that you meet the required standards when you complete the course. Although they vary, our assessment strategies are all carefully designed to challenge you so that you expand your critical and analytical thinking as well as your problem-solving skills. The assessments will enable you to demonstrate that you can synthesise existing knowledge and accumulate new knowledge, and will evidence the development of your professional practice.  Some examples of assessment include laboratory reports, court reports (including witness statements), oral presentations, mock court, exams, and essays.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate.

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities

Our facilities include a wide range of advanced microscopy instruments – SEM with EDS, a full range of organic analysis (GC, HPLC and ion chromatography). FT-IR and Raman Spectrometers, gene sequencing and other DNA analytical equipment. A comprehensive collection of specialist forensic equipment includes GRIM, VSC and MSP and we also have a dedicated crime scene facility with video equipment.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2022/23 (full-time, per year)


UK students starting 2022/23 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2022/23 (full-time, per year)


International students starting 2022/23 (part-time, per year)


UK students starting 2023/24 (full-time, per year)


UK students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2023/24 (full-time, per year)


International students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.

International students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. These include an Alumni Scholarship, worth 20% off fees for ARU graduates.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting a course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Teaching at ARU

We offer face-to-face campus teaching (with the exception of Distance Learning courses), supported by our established online learning systems, which provide additional support for individual study and engagement. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information.

In the event that there are restrictions that are put into place due to the pandemic by the government - we will endeavour to retain face to face teaching as much as possible but will respond accordingly to the restrictions placed on the University.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the standard entry requirements for IELTS requirements for this course.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 686868

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 683680

Enquire online