Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year, 4 years with placement)


January, September

Intermediate awards: CertHE, DipHE



You’ve got a keen, analytical mind and a need to get to the truth. Build on your respect for evidence and analytical sciences with our three year Forensic Science degree, accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. Our Cambridge-based course gets you hands-on with specialist analytical equipment, authentic crime scene rooms and placement and internship opportunities with local police forces and forensic labs. You’ll graduate with the skills to start a career in forensic science and other analytical science-related fields.

Full description

Overall student satisfaction

National Student Survey results 2017


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

Graduating from this course prepares you for a range of careers in the forensic sector including crime scene investigation and laboratory analysis. In addition, the skills and knowledge you acquire are transferrable to a wide range of scientific and analytical-based jobs. Furthermore, you will be equipped to follow a career in other areas such as research, teaching, business, the law or further education.

Recent forensic science graduates have successfully secured jobs directly related to their degrees in the local police force and in companies such as LGC, Chemtest, Treatt and Cellmark.

Graduation doesn’t need to be the end of your time with us. If you’d like to continue your studies we offer a wide range of full-time and part-time postgraduate courses including MSc Forensic Science.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Optometry, Medical and Life Sciences
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in courses related to Optometry, Medical Science and Life Sciences. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including thinking critically, researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate numeracy and ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. In addition to these fundamental study skills, Students will be given an introduction to the various scientific disciplines underpinning the life sciences. Fundamental mathematical skills will be covered in order to support students’ other subjects and give them confidence in manipulating data. Students will be introduced to molecular and cellular biology, and how these fields are applied to real-world investigations. Students will also study the biology of micro and macro organisms, with reference to both human and animal structures. Students will be introduced to the core concepts of chemistry, with a particular focus on organic chemistry, and will also be given a grounding in the core principles of physics, applied to living organisms. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Critical Thinking; Maths for Scientists; Cellular Biology; Biology – Physiology; Chemistry; Physics for Life Sciences.

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.
  • Introduction to Biology and Forensic Chemistry
    In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic biological and chemical principles that underpin forensic science. The knowledge gained will aid your comprehension of the more advanced scientific concepts encountered in the subsequent years of the degree. Topics covered include human physiology, biochemistry, DNA and RNA, atomic structure, periodicity, chemical equations and stoichiometry. The module includes a practical element where students gain competence and confidence in performing basic laboratory techniques.
  • UK Law and Legal Systems
    In this module you will explore the different legal systems within the United Kingdom and the different requirements of these systems. You will look at the development of law in the English, Scottish and Northern Ireland legal systems and the investigation of crime with each of these systems. You will closely examine the powers and laws of evidence relevant to the forensic practitioner. In addition, you will be introduced to the codes of practice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the role of the forensic scientist and expert witness in legal proceedings.
  • Physical Criminalistics
    The examination of most physical (as opposed to chemical or biological) forensic evidence requires a broad knowledge of the characteristics of a wide range of materials. The forensic scientist has no way of predicting what evidential types will be available or significant when an investigation begins and so all criminalists require a basic knowledge of the main evidence types. In this module you will learn about the physical properties of different types of forensic evidence commonly encountered at crime scenes. The focus will be on the evidence, though some information about the analytical techniques used to examine the evidence will be introduced.
  • Introduction to Police and Forensic Photography
    In this module you will be introduced to the use of photographic evidence and other image recording methods used in the documentation of police and forensic evidence. You will conduct practical work on simulated cases in addition to attending conventional lectures and tutorials using photographic equipment available within our department.
  • Physical and Quantitative Chemistry for Forensic Scientists
    This module contextualises the fundamental concepts of basic chemical analysis and physical chemistry, with examples drawn from and throughout forensic science. The main areas covered include: chemical equilibria (extraction and clean-up of forensic science samples), thermodynamic, thermochemistry (combustion and fire science) quantification (analysis of forensic science samples) and kinetics. These topics are of great importance in acquiring an understanding of why chemical changes occur, and gives a good understanding of concepts needed to progress onto a number of modules on our Forensic Science course. This module will also introduce basic chemical analysis and emphasis is placed on the acquisition of good laboratory practice and basic calculations applicable to quantitative analytical techniques.

Year two, core modules

  • Forensic Spectroscopy Techniques
    Much of the routine work of the practising forensic scientist involves the identification of trace substances including drugs, explosives, fibres, paint pigments and gunshot residue. For evidential reasons, it is advantageous to use non-destructive techniques or techniques which minimise sample destruction. In many instances, the analytical methods of choice are spectroscopic in character, that is, techniques that examine the way the sample interacts with electromagnetic radiation. Such techniques include Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. In this module you will gain knowledge on the spectroscopic techniques commonly used to analyse forensic evidence, the results that are generated and their interpretation.
  • Scene and Laboratory Investigation
    In this module you will undertake practical work in the recovery of evidence at various scenes and highlight the problems that different types of scenes can bring. You will build on the knowledge you gained in previous modules in relation to contamination issues and also issues in the chain of continuity of evidence. You will build your practical skills by using specialist forensic equipment on evidence recovered from the scene.
  • Forensic Analytical Chemistry
    This module will give you the knowledge and experience of analysing "real" forensic science samples by using a variety of chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques and instrumentation. The module also introduces method development and validation and will give you an understanding of the underlying quality management principles, accreditation and standards that are involved in such chemical analysis within forensic science. You will also look at the choice of analytical method and the fundamentals behind the techniques, the results generated, and the interpretation of these results. In addition, you will gain an understanding of quantitative error and statistical analysis by using examples drawn from the forensic sciences.
  • The Forensic Analysis of DNA
    This module focuses on the application of biology and genetics to the field of forensics and the use of these in criminal investigation. Students cover both the biological principles and the practical applications surrounding the different stages involved in the processing of evidence. The lectures cover the foundations of molecular genetics as well as the current DNA analytical methods used to generate DNA profiles i.e. the use of STRs and DNA 17, together with the use of other markers such as mtDNA, Y-STRs and SNPs in different case scenarios. Other topics related to the field will be covered including the latest technology, markers, and procedures used for DNA analysis. Students also gain practical experience of the DNA workflow and statistical interpretation of DNA profiles.
  • 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.
  • Chemical Criminalistics
    This module provides an introduction to the chemical aspects of criminalistics. You will cover a number of chemical evidence types including greasy marks and stains, oily materials such as shoe polish and lipsticks and other chemical evidence that is left by everyday materials. You will explore how these materials are analysed and how reports are generated from the data. You will also be introduced to the chemistry of arson accelerants and explosives, in addition to the methods used for fire debris analysis.

Work placement (optional placement year)

Year three, core modules

  • Forensic Anthropology
    This module develops the student’s knowledge in regards to the role of the forensic anthropologist and the application of forensic anthropology to criminal investigations. The module covers search, recovery and identification of human remains, considering the role of the anthropologist both at the crime scene and the mortuary. The module teaches how the anthropologist works with other experts within the investigative framework and covers both domestic and international applications; from single fatality investigations through to the use of anthropology during mass fatality incidents. Methods of archaeology and osteology and their application to forensic contexts will be taught with the emphasis on basic principles and the critical application of techniques and their selection. A variety of resources will be available including ARU’s collection of human remains and anthropological teaching aids. Case studies and peer reviewed articles will be discussed and a variety of additional resources are available through the digital library.
  • Forensic Pathology
    In this module you will develop knowledge of forensic pathology, which contributes to the investigation of suspicious death and identification of the deceased. The forensic investigation of death is a multi-disciplinary approach that involves collaboration between forensic pathologists, crime scene investigators, forensic scientists and other experts in the forensic field. This module covers the role of the forensic pathologist in fulfilling the key functions of the medico-legal autopsy and determination of cause of death. Post-mortem changes after death, estimation of time since death, injuries and different types of asphyxias will also be taught in this module. Various case studies and peer-reviewed articles relating to the subject area will also be discussed.
  • Advanced Fire and Explosion Investigations
    This module will give you a more detailed insight into the factors involved in the initiation, propagation of fires and the various states of combustion, progressing through to a full compartment fire. This knowledge is then contextualised within a fire scene and how they are investigated, including, as an example electrical faults. You will consider various types of initiation of fires and explosions, and discuss and use calculations used in fire modelling to assess heat transfer (fire progression) and vapour/air mix explosions. Types of explosives and explosive analysis is explored as well as requirements of specialist facilities and procedures for this type of forensic analysis and the specialist instrumentation used. In addition, the analysis of fire debris is investigated and students will use an accepted standard method to identify ignitable liquid traces present on a fire debris sample.
  • Advanced Forensic Methodologies
    This module will provide you with an appreciation of the diverse evidence available in a crime scene, and how to operate as an ‘expert witness’. You will develop your understanding of the nature and types of evidence, how it can be obtained and used. You will get experience in providing your own assessment of ‘raw’ evidence, and critique methodologies. You will learn the importance of impartiality and experience how evidence can be tested in court. Role playing scenarios will give you a realistic experience of a courtroom situation, preparing you for employment.
  • The Forensic Analysis of Drugs and Poisons
    Crimes associated with the trafficking, abuse and addiction of drugs are major issues affecting society today. Forensic scientists therefore have an important role to play in terms of determining the type of drug present in a seized consignment (drug profiling) and the analysis of drugs in body fluids (forensic toxicology). This module provides you with a link between these two important disciplines. Many of the techniques used for quantitative analysis of street drugs and toxicological specimens are identical. In both cases the definitive results arise from mass spectrometric determination. There are however fundamental differences in the actual procedures involved in the two disciplines. Forensic toxicology essentially 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 accurately interpret toxicological findings it is essential that the toxicologist also has an understanding of the pharmacology of that substance and the pathological effects it has on the body. As part of this module you’ll also learn about the processes used in drug identification and profiling. The materials that can be used and the processes themselves will be discussed and the methodologies critically evaluated. The data generated will be discussed and the interpretation of such data critically appraised. The presentation of both toxicological and drug profiling data in court will also be reflected upon.
  • 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.


Throughout the course, we will use a range of assessment methods to measure your progress and ensure you are developing the knowledge and skills required. This course has a hands-on approach and most of the modules you take will have a practical element, so you will be able to develop your crime scene and laboratory skills. Your written, verbal, numerical and problem solving skills will be assessed through examinations, class-tests, laboratory reports, portfolios, role play, presentations and a final year research project in a forensic area of your choice.

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

Additional study information


This course gives you the opportunity to take a work placement year between years 2 and 3 of your studies. You’ll get experience of seeking and securing a job and working in an industry relating to your course. You’ll also get the practical experience and industry contacts to benefit your studies and enhance your long-term career prospects.

Although they can’t be guaranteed, we can work with you to find a placement using our contacts with a large number of employers. You’ll have regular contact with one of our course tutors and be supported by a supervisor from your placement company. Together they’ll monitor your performance and give you feedback.

To find out more about placement opportunities, email us at

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Placement year (UK, EU, international students)


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?

Tuition fee loan

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

Loans and fee payments

International students

You can pay your tuition 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.

Paying your fees


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 & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This 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 fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as 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.

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.

Foundation year entry requirements

  • 5 GCSE passes at grade 3 or D or above and evidence of two years post-GCSE study at Level 3
  • If you have achieved at least grade E in one A level, or equivalent, you are exempt from the two year post-GCSE study requirement, but you still have to meet the GCSE requirements
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificate level of proficiency of at least IELTS 5.5 overall including 5.5 in each band/component
International students

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

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.

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 onto a degree course.

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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