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Whatdo I need?
Forensic Scientists provide scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defence in criminal and civil investigations. – Prospects
Depending on which occupation within Forensic Science you get into, there are standard qualifications you can enrol in. There are usually no prerequisites to this career at entry level, besides loving science!
Jump to:Further Education Higher Education
Jump to:A-Levels BTEC Diploma
Further Education is considered Level 3 education in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, and Wales). The most common further education route is A-Levels, but it is not the only option. There are coursework-based alternatives like BTEC. To pursue a Bachelor’s degree (Level 4) or any other undergraduate qualification, you must complete this level of education first.
A-Levelsare exam-based courses taken in post-secondary education. Usually, people take 3 to 4 A-Level subjects as the standard university courses requires at least 3. A-Levels will come in handy if you intend to study at university-level but you should notethat A-Levels are not practicalcourses.
If you do not intend on attending university, you should be building experience in your field while studying. Useful A-Levels to study Forensic Science would be in Biology, Chemistry or Applied Science.
Find out about technical routes into Forensic Science here >>
What qualifications do I need for A-Levels?
A-level courses usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are usually mandatory to possess. It is best to check the tailored requirements of the university or college you intend to go to, as the entry requirements may differ.
To find A-Level courses search online or Contact us for help.
The process of obtaining these qualifications are more practical, in comparison to the theory-based A-Level. You are assessed solely with coursework. These qualifications are available at different levels from Levels 1-3. At Level 3, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. You can study a BTEC in Applied Science or any other science-related qualification.
What qualifications do I need?
At Level 1, some courses require no qualifications and others start from 2 iGCEs (D-G)/CSEC (1-6). At Level 2, at least 3 IGCSEs (A*-D)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). For Level 3 BTEC diplomas, these will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3).
Additionally, Mathematics and English Language passes are sometimes mandatory to possess. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.
To find BTEC courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.
Access to Higher Education
Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.
Universities will typically be looking for students with a science and technology background. Access to Higher Education courses in Applied Science are a good place to start.
What qualifications do I need for Access to HE?
Access to HE diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.
To find Access to Higher Education courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.
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Jump to:Undergraduate Degrees Postgraduate Degrees
Undergraduate DegreesFoundation Degrees
All applications to undergraduate courses are accessible via UCAS. Undergraduate courses can come in the form of foundation degrees, HND or Bachelor’s level.
Foundation Degrees & Foundation Years
Foundation courses can be taken if your results/tariff points accumulated in a Level 3 qualification were not high enough to allow entry to a standard three-year Bachelor’s course.
There are two foundation options:
- Foundation Degree – a standalone qualification (1-2 years) equivalent to one or two years of a Bachelor’s degree. A top-up degree can be taken afterwards to get the full Bachelor’s degree.
- Foundation Year – this is the first year of a four-year degree consisting of = 1 foundation year + 3 years of a standard Bachelor’s degree. At the end of the four-year course, you will receive the same qualification as a three-year Bachelor’s degree student.
After you complete a Foundation degree qualification (instead of an integrated Foundation Year), you can complete a top-up which takes one year to achieve the full Bachelor’s degree.
What qualifications do I need?
It often varies per university and course so you should check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.
To find Foundation courses, enter your area of study and search Foundation degrees here. In the filters, select Foundation to only view Foundation courses.
HND and Bachelor’s Degrees
The Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) are undergraduate qualifications in a tier below Bachelor’s degrees spanning at 1-2 years.
At Bachelor’s level, there are more varied degree choices, whether in Single or Combined/Joint Honours courses. Combined Honours courses are offered as a mix of subjects in one degree. For example a BA Archaeology and Forensic Biology or BSc Forensic Science with Criminology.
How do I choose which degree?
With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.
To start narrowing it down, we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or prospective exam/coursework results.
Next, have a look at the modules done by the university and assess if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Also, view the teaching quality at the university.
If you have sports or other extracurricular interests, you can research universities which offer these to keep your hobbies alive.
Tip: Some university courses offer an integrated placement year (otherwise known as a sandwich year) where you get the option to take a year out of your studies to work in your industry. This provides you with at least one year of experience in your field before graduation.
To view all higher education options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses here.
What qualifications do I need?
It varies per university but, largely, universities require at least 112 tariff points (for 3-year courses). Grades in A-Level tend to be at least BBC to AAA for Forensic Science related courses. BTEC diploma grades required tend to be at least a DMM. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.
Don’t forget: some courses have foundation entry options which allow you to gain the Foundation qualification and continue to the full Bachelor’s course with lower entry requirements.
If you already have an undergraduate degree and would like to make a career swap or you would like to pursue even further education, we’ve got options for you.
To progress in your career, specialisation is key and a good method of doing this is through postgraduate study. Postgraduate options can be found in Archaeology, DNA Profiling etc.
Similar to applying for an undergraduate degree, click here to view options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses. Filter options to Postgraduate. (Some postgraduate courses may not be listed on UCAS, so do independent searches online).
Apprenticeships, Internships & Work
Apprenticeships are jobs where you work towards a qualification and usually at a lower wage. In the UK, Forensic Scientist apprenticeships are on offer at intermediate level and usually last about two years.
You can also pursue degree apprenticeships, where you work with a company to obtain a qualification at the end (typically 3-4 years). Search your local police department website for vacancies and apprenticeships.
Have a browse of some apprenticeships in the UK here >>
Use online resources to build knowledge in your field. Doing research like reading this blog is a good start. YouTube is your best friend. There are many videos available teaching you more about forensic science. Find your niche and the information will be easier to research.
Unsure about what Forensic Science is? Read our explanatory post here.