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MSc Crime and Forensic Science


Aims and objectives

The MSc in Crime and Forensic Science trains 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 multidisciplinary programme with modules provided by departments across UCL including Security and Crime Science, Psychology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Biosciences, and Archaeology.

Core modules concentrate on understanding the scientific principles behind forensic science and how these are interpreted in the courtroom. Optional modules 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. There is an optional practical module on Crime Investigation designed with input from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Crime Academy and the City of London Police Forensic Services.


By the end of the programme students are 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.

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.
  • Case Assessment and Interpretation for Forensic Scientists (Term 2): This module explores the need for interpretation of forensic science in a legal context, with case studies and workshops that will give students an overview of the work of expert witnesses and the chain of evidence between scene and court. It will be delivered by experts from Principal Forensic Services with years of experience in the field, in conjunction with academics from UCL.
  • 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.
  • Understanding and Interpreting 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 inexperimental physical chemistry: surface science, excited molecules andatmospheric chemistry. Examples of topics covered include: the variousexperimental techniques used to investage the interaction of moleculeswith metal surfaces, examples of excited state chemistry such ascombustion and plasma chemistry, and the factors controlling atmosphericcomposition.
  • Fundamentals of Molecular Biology (Term 1): Studentswill learn about the structure and properties of DNA, with an emphasison the practical aspects of DNA manipulation. They will gain anunderstanding of DNA as genetic materials and the properties of theenzymes used in in vitro DNA manipulation. They will learn the basictechniques of molecular biology such as electrophoresis, blotting,sequencing, cloning and the polymerase chain reaction, undertakingpracticals 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 thefour main methods for the characterisation of molecular species andsolids. Students will develop an appreciation for the strengths andweaknesses of each method. They will acquire the skills needed to solveproblems in crystallography, NMR and IR spectroscopy, and massspectrometry, and to appreciate the complementarity of the informationprovided by each method.
  • Crime Scene Investigation (Term 2): Run in collaboration with the City of London Police Forensic Service, this popular module will give students an introduction to a variety of crime scene investigative techniques. It will then give them the opportunity to investigate a mock crime scene and collect forensic evidence, culminating in the presentation of their evidence in a mock courtroom setting.
  • Forensic Geoscience (Term 1): This module will introduce students to thefield of forensic geoscience from the macro to the micro scales;discussing key concepts concerning the philosophical approach andforensic practices. It will introduce students to the capacity of thegeosciences to yield temporal and spatial intelligence of use inforensic investigations and evidence that can be useful in building acase for presentation in court.
  • Investigating Fraud (Term 2): This module provides students with an understanding of the driversfor and practices associated with corporate fraud represented within publishedfinancial statements. It establishes a framework for detective work where fraud may suspected butis hidden. Prior accounting/finance studies are not presumed. This module is not running in 2014-2015
  • Information Security Management (Term 2): Providesstudents with an understanding of how to apply the principles ofinformation security management in a variety of contexts, and anappreciation of the relationship between the various elements ofinformation security management and its role in protectingorganisations. Topics covered will include: governance and securitypolicy, threat and vulnerability management, forensic computing,security awareness and security implementation considerations.
  • Judgement and Decision Making (Term 2): Studentswill be introduced to normative and descriptive models of judgments andchoice. Formal models will include the axioms of probability, Bayesiannetworks, decision theory and game theory. Current psychological modelsof judgment and choice will be presented, including heuristics andbiases, prospect theory, decision field theory, sampling approaches andrational analysis models. These will be evaluated and linked with moregeneral principles of cognition.
  • Forensic Archaeology (Term 1): This module willprovide an introduction and background to forensic archaeology andrelated fields, and their application in forensic science/crime sceneinvestigations. Students will be introduced to key concepts including:scene of crime management and archaeological intervention, policeprocedures and the forensic archaeologist, archaeological techniques andwhen to apply them, human rights investigations, working within amultidisciplinary approach and responsibilities and accountability.
  • Forensic Osteology (Term 2): This module willprovide an introduction to the role of the dead body in crime andforensic science, initially introducing the student to the newlydeceased and discussing how the process of decomposition finally resultsin skeletal remains. Students will be introduced to skeletal anatomyand in particular to the forensically relevant skeletal elements thatcan be used to help identify an individual. They will have theopportunity to examine human remains both with and without soft tissueand 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 2015.

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 £10,765
Overseas £22,350

*Please note that on 1 April 2011 UCL introduced an application processing fee for all postgraduate taught programmes. The online application fee is £50, with a higher fee of £75 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 2015-2016 entry the Department of Security & Crime Science will offer up to 14 bursary scholarships of between £2,500 and £10,000 (the usual award is £2,500) 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 2015.
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 2015. 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:

One-off Postgraduate scholarships from HECFE and UCL for 2015

UCL has been awarded around 340 bursaries of £10,000 each as part of the HEFCE 2015 postgraduate support scheme. The aim of this scheme is to encourage students from under-represented groups to embark on a postgraduate qualification. This is a one-off opportunity for UK/EU students graduating in summer 2015, having been charged the higher rate of tuition fees starting in 2012/13, and applying to study a postgraduate taught programme starting in September 2015. To be eligible to apply for an award, candidates must meet all the eligibility criteria and apply by the deadline of 29 March 2015. A full list of eligibility criteria, as well as application materials and more information, can be found on the UCL Scholarships and Funding website. 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