BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies - University of Portsmouth
A Gold rating in teaching excellence Read more
BSc (Hons)

Criminology and Forensic Studies

UCAS codeLF34

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Applying science to crime detection

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Are you interested in criminal investigations and understanding how varying forensic evidence types are used to help solve crimes? This course allows you to study the theories of crime and criminality alongside contemporary forensic techniques and practice. You will explore ways in which you may combine methods of crime detection, classification and prevention with classical criminological ideas.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Engage with and evaluate current critical debates in criminology, crime science and forensic studies
  • Discuss career options with our network of experts and recent graduates working in the criminal justice sector
  • Include languages or work experience placements alongside your studies
  • Spend a year abroad studying with an international partner university

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course has received recognition and endorsement of its content from the Chartered Society of Forensic Science.

You will be able to pursue a variety of forensic investigation, criminal justice, local government and charity sector careers such as crime scene investigation, police and probation officers, Home Office researchers, intelligence and crime analyst positions, as well as a wide range of private and public industries. While the degree does not train you to become a forensic scientist, upon graduation you can expect to be qualified for a broad range of criminal justice careers where forensic awareness plays a key role. 


Will Bergstroem, BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies student

What makes this course a great choice is that it combines the necessary theoretical knowledge with the relevant practical skills. The staff are very knowledgeable and supportive, with a wide range of specialties giving you the chance to both widen and deepen your academic experience. Additionally, you have the chance to tailor your degree according to your interests and future plans, through the number of optional units as well as opportunities to do a placement or study abroad.

Will Bergstroem, BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies student


Law and Criminology

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Putting their knowledge into practice in real and mock situations
  • Practical hands-on opportunities to extend experience and practical skills
  • Lecturers with practical experience in the subjects

Browse all courses in Law and Criminology

Back to top

Structure & Teaching

Year one

Core units:

  • Understanding Criminology
  • Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Psychology for Criminologists
  • Skills for Criminologists
  • Researching Criminology 1

Study of Languages (0 credits) - which if combined with Year 2 Languages Study, leads to a Certificate.

Year two

Core units:

  • Researching Criminology 2
  • Questioning Criminology
  • Techniques of Scientific Investigation

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Penology and Prison
  • Community Justice
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Crime, Media and Culture
  • Crimes of the Powerful
  • Victims of Crime: Key Players in Criminal Justice
  • Policing a Diverse Society
  • Crimes of the Powerful
  • Global, State and Corporate Security
  • Youth Crime, Youth Justice
  • Wildlife crime: Threats and Responses
  • Firearms Investigation
  • Key Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Forensic Science
  • Introduction to Teaching
  • Learning From Experience

Year-long language Option for credit which, if combined with Year 1 Languages Study, leads to a Certificate.

Year three

Core units:

  • Dissertation/Major Project
  • Management of Criminal Investigations

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Dangerous Offenders and Public Protection
  • Fire Investigation
  • Hate Crime
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Forensic Taphonomy
  • The Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders
  • Miscarriages of Justice
  • Crime, Exclusion and Mental Health
  • Cybercrime: Deviance, Crime and Terror
  • Gender and Crime
  • Professional Skills in Criminal Justice
  • Contemporary Terrorism and the Global Response
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • The Criminal Justice Clinic
  • Introduction to Teaching
  • Life Plus

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Full-time undergraduate student Study Abroad opportunities

During your time at the Institute of Criminal Justice Justice studies, you will be actively encouraged to develop your language skills, to develop your international and comparative subject expertise, and to consider Study Abroad at one of our partner universities in Europe, South Asia or North America. 

We currently have 3 European Union partnerships, plus 2 outside of Europe in Canada and South Korea. All our Study Abroad opportunities are for a full academic year – operating as a "sandwich year" at year three of a four year degree. 


Our teaching approach involves lectures, seminars, tutorials, group discussions, practical workshops and forensic crime scene and basic laboratory examinations. We will teach you the necessary skills for degree-level work through study skills tutorials in year one and two, and focus on dissertation supervision in year three (This may involve primary research, practical or laboratory based projects in any aspect of criminal justice, investigation and forensic studies). You will also be introduced to the software and web-based learning materials.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 23% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 77% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 21% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 79% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 10% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 90% studying independently and 0% on work placement


You have the option to take up a placement as the third year of a four year study programme. Opportunities are available with local criminal justice organisations, as well as in countries overseas through the Erasmus student mobility programme. 


Assessment is through a combination of coursework, practical crime scene and forensic laboratory assessments and examinations. These include open, pre-seen papers and closed traditional examinations. Coursework involves seminar papers, presentations, group projects and a 10,000-word dissertation. Full support is given to help you develop the necessary techniques so you'll be able to excel in your assessed work.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 27% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 66% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 97% by coursework
  • Year three students: 8% by written exams, 5% by practical exams and 87% by coursework

Professional accreditation

This course has received recognition from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Through their studies students can also gain professional accreditation that will directly assist them in the development of their employability prospects. For example:

  • Students can additionally gain professional accreditation from the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board as an Accredited Counter Fraud Technician (ACFTech) or as an Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist (ACFS) by opting in to a short course, subject to additional requirements set down by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board. (A fee may apply)

Tutor's view


Dr Katherine Brown
Criminology and Forensic Studies

Our course provides a comprehensive view of theoretical and practical aspects of criminology, criminal justice and forensic investigation. Students study the holistic and contextual basis for social scientific and forensic methods within the Criminal Justice System, and have the opportunity to tailor their degree for a wide range of employment opportunities.

Back to top

Facilities & Features


The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies was founded in 1992 and has since grown to comprise 50 academic staff and more than 1,800 students. Now an internationally-renowned focal point for the study of crime and criminal justice processes, it draws together expertise in criminological analysis, applied psychology, police governance and management, victimology, penology, risk and security.

Professional Links

Our extensive experience and close professional relationships with the police service and criminal justice agencies ensure that our courses reflect the changing needs of the profession. You may benefit from these links by hearing guest speakers, listening to leading-edge research and being helped to find professional work placements.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

For placements abroad, you will be required to pay for additional costs. These will vary depending on the placement and length of stay, ranging from £50 - £1,000 to cover travel, accommodation or subsistence.

Back to top

Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

You can expect to work within the police, probation and prison services, in the fields of community safety, crime prevention and criminological research, or as a forensic practitioner.

Our graduates have gone on to jobs as:

  • Paralegal Executive
  • Investigative Data Analyst
  • Police Officer
  • Police Community Support Officer
  • Probation Officer
  • Youth Offending Support Officer
  • Emergency Planning Officer
  • Offender Case Administrator
  • Prison Officers
  • Civilian Investigator

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. This gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, reflect on your experiences and learn to express this to potential employers. ICJS has strong links with employers both locally and internationally, currently our Internship Manager facilitates student internships with a range of criminal justice related organisations, and we have a collaborative partnership with Hampshire Constabulary, allowing students to serve an internship period with Crime Scene Investigators, DIgital Crime Specialists and the Chemical Development team.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Damaris D'Avino, Malta 2015-16 (BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies)

I believed study abroad would be an amazing opportunity to learn from a new culture and see more of the world. I am so happy that I was given this opportunity and that I had pushed myself to do it - definitely an incredible experience. I entered my final year in Portsmouth with more confidence in my abilities.

Damaris D'Avino, Malta 2015-16 (BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies)

Back to top

Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484