Forensic Science - MSc
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Our one-year taught Master’s course in Forensic Science develops an integrated and critical understanding of forensic science and prepares you for a professional role in a range of related areas. Our students go on to important and exciting careers within the criminal or civil judicial system, the police or forensic practice, as well as broader scientific areas and further research.
Reasons to study Forensic Science at Kent
The Guardian University Guide 2023.
Duration:1 year full-time
You will gain detailed knowledge of the physical techniques and methods of assay, analysis and examination used by forensic scientists, together with the essential chemical knowledge necessary to understand a range of forensic analytical techniques.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
You must take all the following compulsory modules (75 credits) and then 45 credits from the optional modules.
You may only take PSCI7040, Major Incident Management OR PSCI7170, Modern Approaches to Incident Management. FSCI5030 can only be taken when taken with FSCI5010.Compulsory modules currently include
PSCI7000 - Physical Science Research Investigation (15 credits)
Students will develop a number of skills related to the investigation and planning of research such as analytical skills, critical thinking and ability to understand and communicate scientific information in graphically. Students will learn how to search and retrieve information from a variety of locations (colloquia, websites, journals, proceedings etc). They will learn how to compile professionally-produced scientific documents such as colloquia reports, posters and applications for funding of future research activities/research job applications. The Group research investigation strengthens these skills, adding experience of working in a team.
PSCI7020 - Contemporary and Advanced Issues in Forensic Science (15 credits)
This module enables students from a variety of backgrounds (e.g. graduates in Forensic Science, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Forensic Biology etc.) to develop their expertise within selected areas of forensic science. Areas for development (e.g. crime scene analysis, ballistics, drug analysis, face recognition, D, etc.) will be identified during an initial meeting of the module convenor with each student.
Students will then be assigned a supervisor in the appropriate area who will guide them towards appropriate learning resources such as lecture and practical materials within the School's portfolio of modules, textbooks and research journals, as well as providing tutorial guidance throughout the module. Guidance will be also given in preparing the dissertation and the presentation. Students will be expected to present verbally, and in writing, the background and advances (focussing on the last ten years) in their selected area of expertise.
PSCI7130 - Substances of Abuse (15 credits)
This module will allow students to develop knowledge of elements of synthetic organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry which are relevant to substances of abuse, and the theoretical chemistry and principles of analysis and identification of several substances that are substances of abuse. The following are indicative:
• Amphetamines and related compounds
• LSD and related compounds
• Cannabis and Cannabis products
• Opiate compounds
• Cocaine and related compounds
• Certain controlled pharmaceutical drugs.
PSCI7200 - Advanced Project Laboratory (30 credits)
This module comprises a range of contemporary topics covering methods of analysis and the interpretational issues associated with forensic D profiling. The materials take students through the evolution of forensic D; RFLP, Quad and the progression of D multiplexes to the present day and the practical issues of sample collection, processing and storage, D theory and practical D processing.
Students will appreciate the difficulties associated with mixed samples and the statistical interpretation associated with both single source and mixture interpretation. The module draws upon the latest materials published by the Forensic Science Regulator and the latest quality and legal standards associated with D profiling. The module is contextualised throughout using a range of contemporary case studies.
Optional modules may include
FSCI5010 - Fundamental Forensic Techniques (15 credits)
This module will develop students' appreciation of a range of physical techniques applied to the collection of bulk and trace evidence materials in forensic science. Students will look more deeply into aspects of physical evidence and will deal with the practical issues of item examination, legal process and general procedure associated with the collection and submission of a range of forensically-relevant materials.
FSCI5030 - Applied Forensic Practice (15 credits)
This module introduces students to a range of scene investigation and evidence processing techniques through a combination of laboratory-based training exercises and simulated scene investigation scenarios.
PSCI6010 - Fires and Explosions (15 credits)
This module covers a range of core chemical science that relates to fire and explosive events. The applied investigation of such events is also discussed to give students a wider appreciation of previous case studies and the complexities of post-fire and post-blast investigations.
PSCI6040 - Topics in Functional Materials (15 credits)
Chemists and physicists are now playing an important role in the growing field of materials research. More recently, there has been a growing interest, driven by technological needs, in materials with specific functions and this requires a combination of physics and chemistry. For example, new materials are needed for the optics and electronics industry (glasses and semiconductors). The aim of this module is to introduce students to this area of modern materials and associated techniques. Examples of the topics that might typically be covered are: Crystals and crystallography; Molecular materials; Glasses; Magnetism and Magnetic Materials; Multiferroics; X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS).
PSCI6370 - D Analysis & Interpretation (15 credits)
This module comprises a range of contemporary topics covering methods of analysis and the interpretational issues associated with forensic D profiling. The materials take students through the evolution of forensic D processes and the practical issues of sample collection, processing and storage, D theory and practical D processing. Students will appreciate the difficulties associated with mixed samples and the statistical interpretation associated with both single source and mixture interpretation. The module draws upon the latest materials published by the Forensic Science Regulator and the latest quality and legal standards associated with D profiling. The module is contextualised throughout using a range of contemporary case studies.
PSCI7040 - Major Incident Management (15 credits)
This module will cover the core principles behind the management and investigation processes that may relate to a range of forensically-relevant incident types. Indicative areas of discussion may include investigation of civil infrastructure incidents, disaster victim identification (DVI), acts of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as well as managing forensic resources over a range of major and smaller incidents.
PSCI7170 - Modern Approaches to Incident Management (30 credits)
This module will cover the core principles behind the management and investigation processes that may relate to a range of forensically-relevant incident types. Indicative areas of discussion may include investigation of civil infrastructure incidents, disaster victim identification (DVI), acts of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as well as managing forensic resources over a range of major and smaller incidents. Students will also manage a team of scene investigators as part of a simulated incident investigation.
SACO8150 - Forensic Taphonomy (15 credits)
This module is fundamental to this MSc where students learn various stages of post-mortem decay to human remains, focusing largely on environmental effects—including decomposition in soil and interaction with plants, insects, and other animals. Other topics covered are; PMI methods (time elapsed since death), biotaphonomy, and geotaphonomy.
Compulsory modules currently include
PSCI7800 - MSC Research Project (60 credits)
Students will undertake a project from an available project listing and will work under the guidance of a supervisor. The student will be encouraged to develop some level of research independence within the project remit appropriate of a postgraduate master's student.
The project will be assessed on a number of criteria which will include the project work (the amount, quality etc. appropriate for the level), effort put in by the student, the preparation of a written report and an oral presentation session. The student's progress will be assessed mid way through the research project through a progress report. This will also involve some degree of forward planning such that the students assess their own project requirements for the following period allowing the student to learn time management and forward planning skills.
Find out more about PSCI7800
Teaching and assessment
Assessment is by examination and coursework.
This programme aims to:
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding in areas such as:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You gain the following transferable skills:
All programmes in the School of Chemistry and Forensic Science equip you with the tools you need to conduct research, solve problems, communicate effectively and transfer skills to the workplace, which means our graduates are always in high demand. Our links with industry not only provide you with the opportunity to gain work experience during your degree, but also equip you with the general and specialist skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace.
Typical employment destinations for graduates from our forensic science and chemistry programmes include government agencies, consultancies, emergency services, laboratories, research or academia.