Forensic investigation students in protective suits discuss evidence
Mode of Study
Full-time, Part-time
Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Start Date
September 2022

Overview

With exciting developments in research, accreditation of frontline practices and a national drive for 'transforming forensics', there's never been a better time to study forensic investigation.  On this MSc Forensic Investigation degree course, you'll learn the practical skills and theories that underpin forensic science, from the investigation to the courtroom.

You'll learn key practical skills and and their strategic deployment in the investigation of crime. You'll study current forensic methods in realistic settings, understanding the extent and nature of forensic practices.

You can choose to study full or part-time, on campus.

This course has been developed with our partners in law enforcement and forensic providers, including Hampshire Constabulary, Key Forensic Services and Forensic Access. So, when you graduate, you'll have all the skills you need for a successful career in the forensic investigation, or related fields, and transferable skills which will support your career development.

Tailoring your degree to your interests and ambitions

On this course, you can graduate with a degree title (see below) that reflects your interests and career goals by choosing specific modules

You'll choose which modules you want to do at the start of the course. We'll help you choose modules and degree title that matches your interests and career ambitions.

Degree title options

  • MSc Criminal Psychology and Forensic Investigation
  • MSc Cybercrime and Forensic Investigation
  • MSc Economic Crime and Forensic Investigation
  • MSc Forensic Investigation
  • MSc Forensic Investigation and Intelligence
  • MSc International Criminal Justice and Forensic Investigation

Entry requirements​

Entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • A second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Exceptionally, applicants with strong and relevant work experience will be considered.
English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

What you'll experience

On this course, you'll:

  • Benefit from our local, national and international links with the criminal justice sector
  • Customise your degree to meet your career goals
  • Draw on the expertise and facilities in our Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
  • Have 24/7 access to the extensive facilities in our university library, including books, ejournals and newspapers
  • Complete a major project or dissertation, based on your chosen area of research, with the support of qualified and enthusiastic staff who are experts in the field

Careers and opportunities

When you graduate from this course, you'll have the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in investigation or intelligence work, in the public or private sectors.

Career opportunities include:

  • Policing (as an officer or civilian staff)
  • Crime analysis
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Police Staff Investigator
  • Forensic scientist / analyst
  • Probation
  • The courts and prison service
  • Local authorities
  • Academia and research
  • Charities
  • Private industry
  • Financial investigator
  • Compliance officer
  • Analyst

We'll provide you with as much support as possible in finding employment through close industrial contacts, careers events, recruitment fairs and individual advice.

Work experience and career planning

We'll help you to identify internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the field of forensic investigation.

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

​What you'll study

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

You need to study modules worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 30 credits and 1 module worth 60 credits.

Recognising your prior learning

If you've done previous study, or have experience that relates strongly to this course, you might be able to convert that into credits toward this MSc through recognition of prior learning (RPL). If your experience qualifies as relevant, university-level learning, you'll be able to reduce the amount of study you need to do on this course. 

Core modules
Specialist options
Other modules

Core modules

The learning outcomes for the module are:
  • Design and formulate an appropriate strategy to recover forensic evidence in response to investigation requirements
  • Critically appraise the utility of forensic methodologies to support investigation requirements
  • Plan, manage and organise an appropriate forensic investigation response to a range of situations and crime contexts
  • Defend and justify investigative decisions made in the use of forensic methods based on investigation requirements
  • Develop skills in evidence assessment, recovery, analysis and interpretation

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Be able to synthesise new and existing knowledge to generate ideas and develop creative solutions to the benefit of society, within a small-scale research project within their chosen field
  • Design, apply and critically evaluate research methodologies within the chosen subject area, demonstrating a commitment to ethical practice
  • Conduct a systematic, methodologically and ethically sound research process (literature based or empirical research)
  • Manage and reflect upon own learning and be able to communicate in a range of forms to audiences relevant to the academic and/or workplace community

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Recognise the challenges involved in undertaking ethical research and identify the research challenges that need to be accommodated within a proposal for a research project
  • Construct a postgraduate research proposal with an ability to set out clear research objectives, and appropriate research design whilst able to select appropriate research methods
  • Apply an appropriate research design, and deploy specific research method(s) to the research problem (or question) with a clear appreciation of how any ethical issues are addressed
  • Effectively locate existing academic literature in their chosen field of research using bibliographic databases, with an appreciation of the breadth of other data sources, repositories and archives

Explore this module

Relevant specialist options

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically analyse the importance and demonstrate an understanding of scientific techniques, in relation to a forensic investigation and associated case
  • Practice suitable protocols for the analysis of scientific evidence in a forensic context, indicated by completion and submission of contemporaneous laboratory notes
  • Cooperate with, communicate, critically comment and reflect on scientific methods to a like-minded audience, by completion of a presentation
  • Complete and critically assess a casefile, with a focus on suitable forensic analyses and data interpretation

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • To develop a critical awareness of aquatic forensic investigation as a specialist field within the sector
  • To demonstrate a critical and reflective knowledge of limitations of the field of aquatic forensic investigation
  • To identify and critically evaluate necessary areas for future research in the field of aquatic forensic investigation
  • To demonstrate the ability to think independently, critically and analytically to apply complex concepts and theory to complex forensic scenarios
  • To demonstrate an advanced understanding of the relevant practical skills necessary effective aquatic investigation how these can be applied

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the use of science and technology to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Critically assess the utility of a variety of investigative tools that are available to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Articulate and critically comment upon the range of specialist services available to investigators
  • Devise appropriate strategies to make the most efficient, effective and economic use of scientific resources in support of investigations and crime reduction activities

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically assess the notion of green criminology and environmental justice
  • Critically analyse and articulate the range of perspectives surrounding ecological justice and species justice
  • Critically examine the problem and scale of wildlife crime and wildlife trafficking
  • Critically appraise the latest global advances in wildlife crime investigation, including surveillance, remote-sensing, drones, financial investigation, cyber investigation, forensics and big-data analysis
  • Critically assess the suitability of systems and technology to counter wildlife trafficking, drawing upon socio-technical approaches

Explore this module

Other modules available

This module provides a practical application of the strategies, structures and actions used in counter fraud and corruption in UK public and private sectors. There's some inclusion of non-UK public sectors where appropriate.

The module begins by exploring the extent of the problem of fraud and corruption and the characteristics of these problems. The module also examines the theoretical perspectives on why individuals engage in fraud and corruption. You'll consider different strategies to tackle this problem, such as prevention, investigation and sanctions.

The module also includes case studies on specific types of fraud and corruption in sectors such as insurance, healthcare and mass marketing.

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically and reflectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of differing systems of justice
  • Critically analyse, compare and contrast the workings of inquisitorial and adversarial systems of justice
  • Critically engage with contemporary global debates and the application of those to theoretical frameworks such as models of justice and philosophies of punishment
  • Critically evaluate the development of international criminal law, including international courts and tribunals, and the operation of the UN, regional and national structures of international justice in response to those crimes

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate systematic knowledge, comprehensive understanding and critical awareness, and think independently, analytically and creatively about the subject area
  • Demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge and be able to analyse and appraise both new and existing knowledge and respond to challenges, locate and access information pertinent to the subject area, using digital and emerging technologies
  • Recognise and evaluate the importance of social justice issues
  • Demonstrate clear communication skills to different audiences
  • Demonstrate enterprising and innovative skills and be adaptive and flexible to new situations
  • Identify personal career development needs and make informed career choices

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the concepts of dangerousness, risk and vulnerability within a criminal justice context
  • Demonstrate an integrated understanding of the development of public protection policies, locate these within the broader development of criminal justice and victim-centred policies
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary debates concerning the complex relationships between the state, the offender and the victim, within the wider context of citizenship and rights
  • Critically evaluate the development and implementation of policies and legislation
  • Demonstrate critical and reflective understanding of the subject area within the context of ethical practice and social justice issues
  • Demonstrate an intellectual curiosity for the subject area and engage imaginatively with new areas of investigation within and across discipline boundaries

Explore this module

This module explores the main types of economic crime and their cyber-enabled variants.

It evaluates the scale and impact of economic crime, and its international dimensions. It examines the common features and differences of economic crime types, and introduces theoretical perspectives on policy, justice, enforcement and prevention.

The online learning materials and recommended reading provide essential knowledge and theoretical underpinning for all of your learning outcomes. Learning materials contain recommended readings to engage you in wider academic and national, regional and international official sources.

Study support is provided through peer networking and interaction during key discussions on relevant topic areas, moderated by the module coordinator. These activities support you in gaining the relevant knowledge, understanding, and cognitive skills required for the successful achievement of all module learning outcomes.

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • To develop a critical awareness of the concepts of globalisation, risk and security in relation to cyberspace
  • To create a holistic understanding of the nature of cybersecurity threats facing organisations and states
  • To estimate the diverse cybersecurity threats and responses, in relation to organisations and states
  • To appraise the challenges of national cybersecurity strategies
  • To develop an integrated interdisciplinary understanding of approaches to managing cyber-risks
  • To assess the impact of global cybersecurity governance

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss the potential contributions of psychological research and theory in the criminal justice arena
  • Critically assess the application of psychology to the criminal justice system, from investigation to the courtroom
  • Critically appraise the role of psychology in criminal justice policy and procedure

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Appraise established intelligence processes and practice
  • Critically assess the ways in which intelligence is used (and often is not used) to inform the investigative process
  • Critically evaluate the utility of existing intelligence models
  • Critically assess the range of analytical services that are available to intelligence professionals
  • Critically assess the limits on the legitimate exercise of police powers in the context of intelligence

Explore this module

This module provides an insight into the subject area of missing persons. You'll consider the needs and challenges faced by people who go missing and their relatives. You'll gain an understanding of the practices used by those investigating and managing these cases.

You'll be introduced to key areas where research has had an influence on policy and practice, both in the UK and abroad. You'll then make a critical appraisal of these issues using case examples.

This module provides a practical and critical understanding of money laundering and related problems such as global sanctions and terrorist financing.

It examines the process of money laundering, money laundering typologies, case studies, and underlying regulatory and compliance frameworks. The module leads to a practical and theoretical understanding of compliance obligations of private actors in this area, including anti-money laundering compliance programmes and investigations.

The online learning materials and recommended reading provide essential knowledge and theoretical underpinning for all of your learning outcomes. Learning materials contain recommended readings to engage you in wider academic and national, regional and international official sources.

Study support is provided through peer networking and interaction during key discussions on relevant topic areas, moderated by the module coordinator. These activities support you in gaining the relevant knowledge, understanding, and cognitive skills required for the successful achievement of all module learning outcomes.

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate systematic knowledge, comprehensive understanding and critical awareness, and think independently, analytically and creatively about the subject area
  • Recognise and critically evaluate the importance of social justice issues
  • Recognise and critically evaluate the key issues in the subject area
  • Critically analyse emerging areas of importance in the subject area

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically analyse a range of research studies making assessments as to their explanatory power and scientific rigour in the field of rehabilitation and desistence from crime
  • Think independently, analytically and creatively about the rehabilitation of offenders and desistance from crime
  • Analyse and critically appraise existing and new paradigms of knowledge in the rehabilitation of offenders
  • Locate, access and engage with global information pertinent to leaving crime behind

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Evaluate critically the current research and academic understanding of the key concepts and debates within the field of addiction
  • Evaluate critically the relationship between addictive behaviour and crime
  • Evaluate critically the relationship between theory and practice in the delivery of services for individuals and communities for whom addiction and its associated problems are an issue

Explore this module

Changes to course content

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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Learning support

As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Teaching

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • individual and group projects
  • online materials

How you'll spend your time

Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

  • Teaching block 1 – September to January
  • Assessment period 1 – late January to early February
  • Teaching block 2 – January to May
  • Assessment period 2 – May to June

Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. If you study on campus, you may occasionally need to go to University events in the evenings and at weekends. Some course seminars may be held in the evening, both on campus and distance learning study modes.

How you're assessed

You'll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • case study
  • blogs
  • presentations
  • research proposal
  • dissertation or major project

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2022 start)

UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students

  • Full time: £9,400
  • Part time: £4,700 per year (90 credits) (subject to annual increase)
  • Part time distance learning: £4,050 per year (subject to annual increase)

EU students

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full time: £9,400
  • Part time: £4,700
  • Part time distance learning: £4,050

International students

  • Full time: £16,200
  • Part time: £8,100 per year (90 credits) (subject to annual increase)
  • Part time distance learning: £4,050 per year (subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out more how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover. 

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. 

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 module a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

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

There may be travel costs for internships/placements. These will vary depending on the nature of internship/placement and can range from £50 - £1000.

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.

If you're a distance learning student, you may need to cover the travel, accommodation and subsistence costs for any optional campus-based events that you attend. Depending on the distance you need to travel to reach Portsmouth, these can vary from £50 to £500.

You may need to cover the travel costs of internships and placements. These will vary depending on the nature of the internship or placement in question, and can range from £50 - £1,000.

Apply

Apply for this course using our online application form.

Note you're applying for MSc Criminal Justice – you'll graduate with a MSc Forensic Investigation degree title when you choose the relevant modules at the start of the course. 

September 2022 start

International students

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us (above) or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.