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MSc Crime and Forensic Science


Aims and objectives

The MSc in Crime and Forensic Science will train graduates to think strategically and critically about crime and forensic science, equipping them with transferable skills suitable for a wide range of careers. It is a new multidisciplinary programme with modules provided by departments across UCL including Security and Crime Science, Psychology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Biosciences, Management Science and Innovation, Archaeology and Laws.

Core modules will concentrate on understanding the scientific principles behind forensic science and how these are interpreted in the courtroom. Optional modules will include forensic archaeology, molecular biology and the psychology behind decision making, enabling students to specialise in a particular area of forensic science if they wish. In addition to UCL-based modules there will be a practical component provided by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Crime Academy: students can attend a week-long course on crime scene investigation at their specialised Forensic Faculty in London.


By the end of the programme students will be prepared for a variety of different career paths including research, crime investigation, forensic science provision, policy making and public sector careers such as the civil service.

Download the MSc Crime and Forensic Science leaflet.

Download the MSc Crime and Forensic Science leaflet.

Full-time students

Full-time students will complete the MSc in one calendar year.

Programme structure

The MSc in Crime and Forensic Science is composed of 5 core/compulsory modules and 3 optional modules. 180 credits are required for this programme (75 credits of compulsory courses, 60 credits of dissertation, plus 45 credits of optional courses).

Core modules (worth 15 credits each)

  • Designing & Doing Research (Term 1): Gives students an understanding of the general principles of scientific endeavour and progress. It looks specifically at the nature of scientific knowledge, what counts as evidence, the role of theory development and the importance of hypothesis formulation and testing. It examines general principles of enquiry and investigation, the role of rationality and dealing with uncertainty in a complex world.
  • Foundations of Security and Crime Science (Term 1): The purpose of this module is to set out the foundational concepts, theories and approaches that underpin the MSc programmes offered in the Department of Security and Crime Science. In this way the module provides an overarching framework for the modules that follow. It outlines the distinctive nature of the crime science approach to understanding, preventing, detecting and investigating crime and security problems. It presents the key theories that explain the temporal and spatial patterning of crime and terrorism events, and introduces students to associated strategies for disrupting these patterns. The need for a multidisciplinary approach – especially the integration of the social and physical sciences - to addressing crime and security problems is emphasised, with the contributions of the forensic sciences and security technology highlighted.
  • Judges, Courts & Judicial Decision Making (Term 1): This module explores the crucial role judges and courts play in the modern state, and provides students with a unique opportunity to understand what it is like to be a judge, how judges make decisions, what skills they require and what pressures and controversies they face. Leading judges, policy-makers and academic experts share their first-hand knowledge with students, and students gain experience of judicial decision making through a series of hands-on seminars.
  • Quantitative Methods (Term 1): Provides an understanding of the principles of research design and statistical analysis and those methods most appropriate to the application of crime and forensic science. It will enable students to apply these principles to the real world problem of crime control, understand how to read and interpret research reports and decide what conclusions can be drawn from different designs and statistical analyses.
  • Interpretation of Forensic Evidence (Term 2): This module will introduce students to the key themes concerned with the interpretation of forensic evidence. It will include evaluation of evidence, assessing the weight of evidence, Bayesian theory, specific issues for DNA evidence interpretation in forensic contexts and a broad introduction to the various different forms of forensic evidence that are routinely used in criminal investigations.

Optional modules (worth 15 credits each)

  • Frontiers in Experimental Physical Chemistry (Term 1):
    This module covers three topics of current research interest in
    experimental physical chemistry: surface science, excited molecules and
    atmospheric chemistry. Examples of topics covered include: the various
    experimental techniques used to investage the interaction of molecules
    with metal surfaces, examples of excited state chemistry such as
    combustion and plasma chemistry, and the factors controlling atmospheric
  • Fundamentals of Molecular Biology (Term 1): Students
    will learn about the structure and properties of DNA, with an emphasis
    on the practical aspects of DNA manipulation. They will gain an
    understanding of DNA as genetic materials and the properties of the
    enzymes used in in vitro DNA manipulation. They will learn the basic
    techniques of molecular biology such as electrophoresis, blotting,
    sequencing, cloning and the polymerase chain reaction, undertaking
    practicals to gain hands-on experience of these techniques.
  • Structural Methods in Modern Chemistry (Term 1):
    This module will present the theoretical and practical aspects of the
    four main methods for the characterisation of molecular species and
    solids. Students will develop an appreciation for the strengths and
    weaknesses of each method. They will acquire the skills needed to solve
    problems in crystallography, NMR and IR spectroscopy, and mass
    spectrometry, and to appreciate the complementarity of the information
    provided by each method.
  • Crime Scene Investigation (Term 2): Students will
    attend a week-long practical course at the Metropolitan Police Service
    Crime Academy. They will be introduced to a variety of crime scene
    investigative techniques and then given the opportunity to investigate a
    mock crime scene and collect forensic evidence, culminating in the
    presentation of their evidence in a mock courtroom setting. Lectures
    before and after the practical element will consolidate the techniques
  • Forensic Geoscience (Term 2): This module will introduce students to the
    field of forensic geoscience from the macro to the micro scales;
    discussing key concepts concerning the philosophical approach and
    forensic practices. It will introduce students to the capacity of the
    geosciences to yield temporal and spatial intelligence of use in
    forensic investigations and evidence that can be useful in building a
    case for presentation in court.
  • Investigating Fraud (Term 2): This module provides students with an understanding of the drivers
    for and practices associated with corporate fraud represented within published
    financial statements. It establishes a framework for detective work where fraud may suspected but
    is hidden. Prior accounting/finance studies are not presumed.
  • Information Security Management (Term 2): Provides
    students with an understanding of how to apply the principles of
    information security management in a variety of contexts, and an
    appreciation of the relationship between the various elements of
    information security management and its role in protecting
    organisations. Topics covered will include: governance and security
    policy, threat and vulnerability management, forensic computing,
    security awareness and security implementation considerations.
  • Judgement and Decision Making (Term 2): Students
    will be introduced to normative and descriptive models of judgments and
    choice. Formal models will include the axioms of probability, Bayesian
    networks, decision theory and game theory. Current psychological models
    of judgment and choice will be presented, including heuristics and
    biases, prospect theory, decision field theory, sampling approaches and
    rational analysis models. These will be evaluated and linked with more
    general principles of cognition.
  • Forensic Archaeology (Term 1): This module will
    provide an introduction and background to forensic archaeology and
    related fields, and their application in forensic science/crime scene
    investigations. Students will be introduced to key concepts including:
    scene of crime management and archaeological intervention, police
    procedures and the forensic archaeologist, archaeological techniques and
    when to apply them, human rights investigations, working within a
    multidisciplinary approach and responsibilities and accountability.
  • Forensic Osteology (Term 2): This module will
    provide an introduction to the role of the dead body in crime and
    forensic science, initially introducing the student to the newly
    deceased and discussing how the process of decomposition finally results
    in skeletal remains. Students will be introduced to skeletal anatomy
    and in particular to the forensically relevant skeletal elements that
    can be used to help identify an individual. They will have the
    opportunity to examine human remains both with and without soft tissue
    and to see how human remains can be involved in forensic cases.

A dissertation of 10,000 words (worth 60 credits) will be submitted in September 2013.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of a good upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant disciplines will generally include science subjects: for example chemistry, biology, physics, engineering or computer science; psychology, archaeology or geography. Alternatively candidates may qualify for entry if they can offer five or more years of relevant professional experience (for example in the police service, or with a forensic science provider).

Proficiency in the use of spoken and written English is required. Students whose first language is not English will need to meet the College's English language requirement.

How to apply

All applications are made online: UCL Admissions website.

Applications are accepted throughout the year; however, students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship/bursary funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

MSc Crime and Forensic Science
Full time (2014-2015)
Home/EU £10,450
Overseas £21,700

*Please note that on 1 April 2011 UCL introduced an application processing fee for all postgraduate taught programmes. The online application fee will be £25, with a higher fee of £50 for paper applications. Such charges are already made by many other universities and the UCL charges are the same or lower than our main competitors.

Fees are paid on an annual basis.

For 2014-2015 entry the Department of Security & Crime Science will offer up to 14 bursary scholarships of between £2,500 and £10,000 to outstanding applicants who have been offered places on one of our MSc programmes.

If you would like to be considered for one of these scholarships when you apply, please complete the Funding section of your online application with the following details:

  • In the Other column please write the following: "Department of Security & Crime Science Bursary Scholarship"

The deadline for consideration is 30th April 2014.
You must ensure that your online application is complete by this date. This includes making sure that your referees have submitted their references by this date, as UCL Admissions do not consider an application to be complete until this has happened. The Department of Security & Crime Science will not be able to make any exceptions.

All applications will be considered after the deadline and we aim to inform applicants of our decision by mid-June 2014. You will hear from us directly via email - this communication is entirely separate from any communications you receive from UCL Admissions and your offer letter for a place on the programme will not state whether or not you have been awarded a bursary.

Please be aware that competition for these bursary scholarships is fierce and we recommend that all applicants investigate other sources of funding. The UCL website has a section on graduate funding and scholarships, however we as a department are unable to help unsuccessful applicants to find alternative funding.

Other scholarships:

Postgrad Solutions bursaries worth £500

Other UCL scholarships

The Jill Dando Institute Centre for the Forensic Sciences is a new initiative at University College London. Its mission is to contribute significantly to the development of the forensic sciences through high quality multidisciplinary research, teaching & learning, and through the establishment of collaborative projects with external partners.

Page last modified on 14 dec 11 11:08