Key facts

Location:

Stoke-on-Trent Campus

Mode of attendance: Full-time
Duration: 3 years, 4 years (with a placement year), 4 years (MSci) full-time
UCAS code: F411, F414 (with a placement year), F490 (MSci)
Academic year: 17 September 2018 – 7 June 2019

Introduction

This course covers modern developments within biology in relation to the field of forensic investigation.

It's ideal if you're interested in the practical application of science, providing exciting opportunities for hands-on scientific training. Topics such as DNA profiling, poison analysis, toxicology, drug identification, blood pattern analysis and the identification of human remains are covered.

This course is taught from specialist labs in our multi-million-pound Science Centre, as well as our purpose-built crime scene house, to simulate a real-world approach to the topics being studied.

If you want to study for an advanced qualification, we offer an integrated Masters MSci course in Forensic Biology. This will give you advanced knowledge, skills and research experience, enabling you to move directly into research and related careers in forensic, crime and life sciences.

On successful completion of study, we will issue one of the following awards dependent on your chosen pathway: BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology, MSci Forensic Biology

Professional body accreditation

The BSc (Hons) course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, for the purpose of meeting, in part, the academic and experience requirement for the Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).

Work placements

If you choose to complete one of our sandwich courses with a work placement between the second and final years of the course, our placement staff will work with you to identify a suitable location for your work placement. Please also note that you are responsible for any costs incurred in travelling to and from your work placement, and for any accommodation costs.

Course content

In Year 1, you’ll develop a strong understanding of biological principles supporting your degree, together with the underpinning scientific approach to evidence collection and working in a crime scene.

In your 2nd year, you’ll develop your understanding of the key biological areas used in criminal investigations, including DNA profiling and the evidential use and analysis of biological fluids and tissue material.

You’ll also develop key skills such as scientific questioning, scientific and forensic reporting and project planning.

If you are following the BSc (Hons) route, you can opt for the sandwich version of this course where the placement opportunity, with a relevant graduate organisation, lasts a whole year.

In your final year, you’ll complete an experimental project focused on your interests in forensic biology.

You’ll also take modules in subjects such as toxicology, techniques in identification of human remains and advanced DNA profiling.

Your expanding biological knowledge will be developed within the context of current legal processes and will go hand in hand with the development of expert witness skills in our mock courtrooms.

Modules

This module map provides an indicative list of the modules that make up your course. Each module is worth a specified number of credits: you take a combination of compulsory and optional modules, enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interest. You must take modules worth a total of 120 credits at each level of the course. The number of optional modules you can take depends on the number of compulsory modules at a given level, you may have more choice in later parts of the course. 

Our teaching is informed by research, and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline. You can always find the most up-to-date information about your modules and who is teaching them in our module catalogue. We aim to ensure that all optional modules run as scheduled. If for any reason an optional module cannot be run we will advise you as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Before you can register on some optional modules, you may be required to have undertaken prerequisite modules. Some module combinations may not be allowed.

Year 1

Semester 1
Module title
Biosciences Concepts and Practice Compulsory
Introduction to Forensic Science Compulsory
Biological Principles for Forensic Sciences Compulsory
Basic Chemical Concepts Optional
Semester 2
Module title
Biosciences Concepts and Practice Compulsory
Introduction to Forensic Science Compulsory
Biological Principles for Forensic Sciences Compulsory
Facial Recognition: Scientific and Investigative Tools Optional
Biology of Disease Optional

Year 2

Semester 1
Module title
Professional Practice and Placement Compulsory
Methods of Crime Detection Compulsory
DNA Profiling and Forensic Biology Compulsory
Neuroscience Optional
Drug Discovery, Design and Synthesis Optional
Forensic Archaeology Optional
Semester 2
Module title
Professional Practice and Placement Compulsory
Methods of Crime Detection Compulsory
DNA Profiling and Forensic Biology Compulsory
Medicinal Plants Optional
Characterisation and Analysis of Drugs Optional
Drugs of Abuse Optional
Physiological Function Optional

Year 3

Semester 1
Module title
Research Project Compulsory
Advanced DNA Profiling Compulsory
Contemporary Issues in Bioscience Compulsory
Toxicology Compulsory
Expert Witness and the Legal System Compulsory
Neuropharmacology Optional
Analysis and Quality Assurance of Drug Optional
Field School in Forensic Archaeology Optional
Semester 2
Module title
Research Project Compulsory
Contemporary Issues in Bioscience Compulsory
Expert Witness & the Legal System Compulsory
Techniques in Identification of Human Remains Optional
Drug Formulation and Delivery Optional
Photography for Life Sciences Optional

Year 4

Semester 1
Module title
Advanced Research Methods Compulsory
Advanced Biological Techniques Compulsory
Specialist Topics in the Biosciences Compulsory
Semester 2
Module title
Life Sciences Placement or Biological Research Assistantship Compulsory

Teaching staff

You will be taught by an expert teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teaching training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader. Our teaching is research-informed and 72% of our full-time staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.