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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Why study forensic science?

If you’re a natural problem solver, have an analytical mind and are searching for a career that brings together multiple fields, forensic science could be your calling. We guide you through what the subject is all about.

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With the outcome of some court cases and criminal trials reliant on a single piece of evidence, the essential role played by forensic scientists comes to the fore. With the advancements made in science and technology the collection, testing, examination and preservation of evidence has become increasingly sophisticated and critical. This is where a degree in forensic science comes into its own. We guide you through what it takes to undertake a forensic science degree, what you’ll study and what forensic science jobs there are. 


What is forensic science?


First things first, let’s explore what forensic science is. Essentially forensic science is the marrying of science, medicine, biology, mathematics, chemistry, psychology and anthropology with criminal and civil law. When a crime has been committed forensic science is used to analyse, understand and present evidence.   


Forensic science extends from the collection of evidence at a crime scene to laboratory analysis. Further, forensics scientists also need to be familiar with the law as they are frequently called upon to explain and give evidence at criminal trials. Forensic science may also be applied to financial crime when the need to track transactions and large volumes of data is important. 


The word forensic is derived from the Latin word ‘forensis’ which refers to the open discussion and examination of evidence that was presented during public court cases, quite common at the time when the term was coined. 


Where can I study forensic science?


If you have been on the lookout for forensic science courses or a bachelor of forensic science you will be pleased to hear that you can study the degree in several top destinations including the UK, the USA and Canada


Forensic science degrees are usually offered by the science faculties of various universities, however, some may be taught and administered by dedicated centres or medical schools. What is often important to note is whether or not the institution you wish to study at has the relevant regulatory accreditation or endorsement. For example, The University of Kent in the UK offers a BSc (Hons) Forensic Science which is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences


If studying forensic science in the UK is something that piques your interest we took a look at the Complete University Guide Subject League Table 2021 for forensic science degrees to get a sense of which universities topped the rankings. The list includes:



What will I study for a forensic science degree?


A forensic science degree is designed to prepare you for taking on the rigours of a demanding career and developing the key skills needed to succeed. There are some core fundamentals that you will need to master throughout your three or four-year BSc in forensic science that includes:


  • Organic chemistry 
  • Mathematics for forensic scientists 
  • Ballistics 
  • Physical chemistry 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Forensic techniques 
  • Digital forensics
  • Forensic archaeology 
  • Criminal law 
  • DNA analysis
  • Forensic psychology
  • Toxicology


If you find that you have a natural affinity for the subject and would like to specialise in a key area then an MSc in Forensic Science could be for you. Postgraduate degrees in the subject are usually offered as either research degrees or degrees with coursework built-in. 


With an MSc in the field, you’ll find yourself fine-tuning areas such as forensic evidence and analysis, evidence collection, forensic genetics, forensic toxicology and of course topical issues or developments within the field. 


Explore some of the places you can study forensic science in Canada:



What do I need to study forensic science?


If you’re wondering if you would make a good forensic scientist or forensic technician then there are a few qualities you’ll need to have. These include:


  • Scientific and mathematical ability
  • Attention to detail 
  • Time management 
  • Accuracy 
  • Ability to work under pressure 
  • Excellent communication 
  • Objectivity 
  • Analytical mind


Entry requirements for a degree in forensic science will differ but there are some standard criteria for entry. You will need to have studied chemistry, biology or science at A level or high school level. It’s also usually required that you have studied mathematics. 


Further, you will need to have achieved a BBB A level result, which is the equivalent to an International Baccalaureate of 34 points, an SAT score of 1290 or an ACT score of 28. The Associate Degree equivalent score would be 3.2. 


As for most courses, there is also an English language proficiency requirement for the degree. You will need to have achieved an IELTS score of 6.5 with no section score lower than 6.0. This is the equivalent of a TOEFL iBT score of 90 and a Duolingo score of 110. Remember that it is always possible to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English language score if you don’t quite meet the entry requirements.


Find out more about these universities in the USA that offer forensic science:




What to do after a forensic science degree?


Having got up to speed with what a forensic science qualification is all about you may be wondering “Is forensic science a good career?” or “What can you do with a forensic science degree?”. The good news is the answer is yes and quite a few things. 


Firstly, there are different areas of specialisation where you could work including in chemistry, biology, or drugs and toxicology. It’s even possible to specialise in things like fingerprint analysis or ballistics. You will find yourself doing a lot of laboratory work and testing as a forensic scientist, but you may also sometimes need to be out in the field collecting evidence. 


Some of the more common employers you would work for include the police, government departments, universities and even insurance companies. Salaries do vary depending on your level of experience, however, after graduating you can expect to earn between GBP 20,000 and GBP 25,000. As you rise through the ranks this can increase to as much as GBP 45,000 to GBP 50,000 for more senior roles. 


If you’re interested in forensic science then it’s likely that you will also find our article on forensic psychology useful and for that matter our guide to criminology. Remember to stay up to date with the latest international student news with our bulletin.


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