Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

University Centre Peterborough



Develop a thorough knowledge of forensic crime scene investigation, police and criminal justice procedures, and key criminological theories on this wide-ranging course.

Full description


Many of our graduates go on to careers in the police force, crime scene investigation and police community support. Others work in the intelligence field, analytical services, community safety, probation service, youth work and the prison service.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Introduction to Forensic Methodologies
    In this module you will cover key forensic aspects ranging from the management of crime scenes and the appropriate recovery of items found within them, to the interpretation of results obtained from laboratory-based analyses. A range of the most common types of evidence will be introduced, along with the techniques used to examine them. Particular emphasis is placed on the various microscopy methods available, including polarised light and fluorescence microscopy, and the physical principles behind them.
  • United Kingdom Legal Systems and Law for Forensic Scientists
    Explore the different legal systems within the United Kingdom and the different requirements of these systems. You’ll look at the development of law in the English, Scottish and Northern Ireland legal systems and examine the jury system and the investigation of crime with each of these systems. You’ll closely examine the powers relevant to the Scene of Crime Officer/Forensic Scientist and the laws of evidence as they relate to the S.O.C.O./Forensic Scientist and the codes of practice of the Crown Prosecution Service. You’ll focus on seizure, rules of evidence and codes of practice as well as forensic scientist and expert witness.
  • Introduction to Police and Forensic Photography
    You'll be introduced to the use of photographic evidence and other image recording methods used in the documentation of police and forensic evidence. You'll conduct practical work on simulated cases in addition to attending conventional lectures and tutorials using photographic equipment available within our department. You'll be assessed through a written assignment/portfolio.
  • Identification Techniques
    The correct identification of a person is extremely important in any investigation. This module examines identification issues which are perceived to play such an important part in the identification of an offender. Different identification methods (such as fingerprints, DNA and odontology) will be explored and the advantages and disadvantages of various identification techniques will be examined. The complex challenges that are often associated with the identification of individuals will also be covered. This will include topics such as reliability of eye witness accounts and how animals can be used to aid in identification of individuals.
  • Physical Criminalistics
    The examination of most physical forensic evidence requires a knowledge of the characteristics of a wide range of materials. A forensic scientist has no way of predicting what evidential types will be available and/or significant when an investigation begins, so all criminalists require a basic knowledge of the main evidence types. Through a series of integrated lecture and practical sessions, you will learn the physical properties of the most common types of evidence encountered at crime scenes. You will develop the professionalism to determine when to seek more highly qualified or expert advice on the basis of 'if in doubt then do no harm'. You will focus on physical evidence, and will cover the basic principles of a forensic examination, the physical properties of documents, glass fragments (including fracture patterns and optical properties), paint, tool, tyre and footwear marks, soil and vegetation, and finger marks as well as other body prints. You will be taught via laboratory-based practical sessions and group work, enabling you to develop your teamwork as well as transferrable communication skills essential in a professional forensics laboratory.

Year two, core modules

  • Forensic Management
    Forensic science in all its forms is a diverse collection of human knowledge and experience involving both the prosecution and defence, in which the correct use of scientific methods enables the court to reach a reasonable verdict with minimal dependency on subjective witnesses. You’ll learn about the management techniques throughout the forensic process, in particular the crime scene, to ensure that the court can be assured that reliable and accurate examination has been undertaken, at all times maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the system. In addition, you’ll examine how the crime scene manager is responsible for the development of staff and the control of systems, policies and procedures. Learning resources will be available through our library. Assessment will be through coursework and an examination.
  • Police and Forensic Investigations
    There are a wide variety of roles found within the modern police service, including dog handlers, crime investigators, firearms officers, search officers, and police support units. These are in addition to general response and community officers, all of whom could be deployed within a police investigation. We will explore the different scientific support departments within the police service, such as crime scene examiners, fingerprint laboratories, fingerprint bureaux, and external forensic providers. You will therefore build your knowledge and understanding of the policing environment and the varied roles within the police service. You will apply your learning through exploring cold cases, reviewing techniques gained in previous modules, and evaluating how new methods and technology could impact an investigation. By working in teams, you will experience an environment similar to that in the policing field, giving you an opportunity to discuss your ideas, review procedures and learn to support your conclusions. You will be provided with a variety of specialist topics to research and discuss, helping you to gain transferable skills for a future career in roles within or associated with crime investigation.
  • Community Safety
    Examine the impact that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 has had on the way that crime related issues are viewed. We'll discuss the different partners within the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) including the police, fire and rescue, local authorities and NHS, and their roles when dealing with crime. We'll cover situational and social crime prevention theories in depth, including the 'SARA' technique for problem solving. The 'pattern analysis triangle' and 'routine activity theory'. You'll examine the methodologies used for conducting crime prevention surveys and how these are utilised by CDRP partners.
  • Project Preparation
    This module will prepare you to carry out a major project in your final year. This will involve initially researching and selecting a suitable project. You will acquire skills such as applying for ethical approval, accessing relevant sources of published information, conducting literature surveys, writing a literature review, formulating risk assessments and creating a project proposal. During this self-managed module you will plan your project and regularly meet with your supervisor, who will give you advice and review your progress.
  • Mass Disasters
    You'll be introduced to the field of mass disaster planning and response, covering a range of aspects from what classifies as a mass disaster to planning, management and preparedness. You'll learn the complexity of different types of disaster operations from a variety of viewpoints, including expert practitioners dealing with the human remains to those dealing with the victim's families and role of the public services. You'll experience mock disaster scenarios and will be expected to take on various roles in order to overcome the challenges you're faced with during the practical sessions. Practical sessions will guide you through the processes of different aspects of disaster response including search and recovery, logging of personal effects, Interpol DVI forms for collection of ante mortem and post-mortem information, and other specialist roles (such as Odontologists, Pathologists, Coroners, APTs and Anthropologists).

Year three, core modules

  • Crime Scene Analysis
    Building on your knowledge of volume (everyday) crime, you will apply your learning to major incidents and how to manage these under scrutiny. With any major crime you need to apply standard processes and procedures but must also manage a wider range of resources and justify any decisions made that could later impact the case. You will expand your knowledge of evidence and crimes types, and the pertinent evidence to recover in support of your case. You will ensure your evidence is ready to present at court, as you will be giving evidence on the case and providing your witness testimony. You will further develop your skills in contemporaneous note taking, and gain practise in writing submission forms as well as witness statements. You will implement your theoretical and practical skills, working in groups in a specific capacity to examine crime scenes, recover evidence and analyse findings; for example as an investigator, specialist or a crime scene manager. You will review the most up-to-date methodologies in examining, recording and recovering evidence from mock crime scenes, including the packing of evidence, ensuring continuity and integrity. A key aspect of your learning throughout will be adhering to best practice, both in terms of evidence recovery, and scene approach and recording. You will demonstrate your acquired knowledge of the vulnerability and value of forensic evidence at crime scenes. This advanced knowledge will also be explored in the context of how crime series are linked, both forensically and through intelligence which is contextualised through consideration of linking crimes in both volume and serious crime scenes. You will be expected to utilise your knowledge of scene preservation and issues regarding the contamination of evidence. An experience of the court procedures will help to prepare you for your future, as most roles with crime and investigation will include an aspect of this stage of an investigation.
  • Youth Justice
    Explore areas relating to youth crime and the different methods in which they are managed within the criminal justice system. Discuss the difference in treatment between young offenders and adult offenders within the court system and the reasoning behind such policies. You’ll cover legislation arising from the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, such as anti-social behaviour orders and the more informal anti-social behaviour contract and how these have been extended through the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. You’ll explore the different roles found within the Youth Offending Service, allowing you to gain an understanding into the diverse services that can be provided to young offenders. You’ll also examine the various orders given by the courts that they must supervise, such as Reparation Orders and Supervision Orders, in addition to the Pre-Sentence reports that they must complete for the courts. You’ll look at Detention and Training Orders and the different facilities in which those subjected to such an order may be placed. As general attitudes change over time, as so do attitudes to the kinds of behaviour that is labelled as criminal, so you’ll realise that 'criminal' is no more than a label attached to different types of behaviour the different times in different societies. You’ll look at the criminal law in England and Wales and at the powers that the police possess to bring offenders before the court as well as various aspects of the criminal act such as actus reus and mens rea.
  • Impact of Crime
    This module will explore the impact that crime has on society, both past and present. It'll be approached from different viewpoints in order to ascertain how we're all affected in different ways by crime. The concepts of ''fear of crime'', ''perceived crime'' and ''actual crime'' will be discussed, along with the effect that each has on different groups within society. The current penal system will also be explored to ascertain how society views the different forms of punishment, and how this has an impact of people's views on crime and disorder. The ''cost of crime'' will also be discussed at length in addition to current crime statistics to see whether or not the government's spending on crime is justified.
  • Forensic Anthropology
    Forensic anthropology involves the analysis of skeletal remains to assist in the identification of victims of crimes or mass disasters. This is a global role, meaning that your learning could take you anywhere, applying your knowledge to criminal investigations and mass disasters. You will explore the processes involved in search, recovery and identification of human remains, considering the role of the anthropologist both at the crime scene and the mortuary. You will learn how the anthropologist works with other experts within the investigative framework, and cover both domestic and international applications - from single fatality investigations through to the use of anthropology during mass fatality incidents. You will enhance your knowledge of the complexity of forensic responses to major crimes, key to employment in forensic and investigative roles. You will discover the methods of archaeology and osteology and their application to forensic contexts, with an emphasis on basic principles and the critical application of techniques and their selection. A variety of resources will be available to you during the lectures and practical sessions, including our collection of human remains and anthropological teaching aids. We will also discuss case studies and peer reviewed articles. The complexity of scene types involving the recovery of buried and/or skeletal remains will allow you to draw on your fundamental knowledge of crime scene and laboratory protocols and procedures. Your understanding of the roles of subject specific forensic experts and how they fit into a complex investigation will be enhanced. The skills developed on this module, which include team working, time management and the development of complex forensic argument, are core to a career in the forensic or investigative sector. You will be given clear guidance on the role and career of a forensic anthropologist, but also how the skills, such as differentiation of human/animal bones, can be utilised within other careers such as a crime scene examiner.
  • Forensic Pathology
    Forensic pathology is a discipline of pathology concerned with the investigation of deaths where there are medico-legal implications, for example, suspected homicide and other complex medico-legal cases. Forensic pathologists are medically qualified doctors who perform autopsies on sudden, unexpected and suspicious deaths. The forensic investigation of death is a multi-disciplinary approach that involves collaboration between pathologists, crime scene investigators, forensic scientists and other experts in the forensic field. You will be introduced to the field of forensic pathology, which contributes to the investigation of suspicious death and identification of the deceased. We will cover the code of conduct and performance standards that are developed for forensic pathology. You will study the role of forensic pathology in fulfilling the key functions of the medico-legal autopsy determination of cause of death, post-mortem changes after death, estimate of time since death, traumatic causes of death and asphyxias. You will also learn how the forensic pathologist works in close collaboration with police and crime investigators in the investigation of a suspicious death. A number of case studies and peer-reviewed articles relating to the subject area will be covered in the lecture and seminar sessions. This module will help you to develop your critical thinking, teamwork, communication and presentation skills.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    You will create in a substantial piece of individual research and/or product development work, focused on a topic of your choice. You could choose your topic from a variety of sources including research groups, previous/current work experience, your current employer, a suggestion from your tutor or a topic you are specifically interested in. You will identify problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop hardware, software and/or media artifacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your finding using a variety of media. Regular meetings with your project supervisor will ensure your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.


We’ll assess your progress using exams and essay assignments, as well as your performance in practical work, presentations, classwork and role play.

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?

University Centre Peterborough
University Centre Peterborough

University Centre Peterborough (or UCP) is our modern campus in the heart of an historic city.

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Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages.

Additional costs

SD memory card - £8
Fine-tipped permanent marker pens - £3
Cost of printing dissertation/individual project.
CD/memory stick for dissertation submission.
Cost of printing A1 poster for dissertation - £15

Scientific Calculator.

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK students

Most new UK undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This also applies to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who have citizens' rights following Brexit.

Government funding includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a range of ARU scholarships, which can provide extra financial support while you’re at university.

Entry requirements

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96 UCAS tariff points. GCSEs required: 5 GCSEs at grade C or above in English, Mathematics and Science.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

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.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

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