Post- graduate




Preston Campus or Distance Learning

Contact UCLan

Course Enquiries
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400

  • Duration:

    12 months

  • Level:


  • Mode:


  • Delivery:

    Mixed Mode, Full-time

  • Campus:

    Preston Campus or Distance Learning

  • Start Date:


  • Award Type:


Why study this programme?

This course is designed to enable graduate students and forensic practitioners to develop the theoretical knowledge underpinning forensic document examination and provide intensive training and practical experience. It covers the analysis of handwriting, signatures, questioned and fraudulent documents and provides training in the use of a range of highly specialised techniques, such as VSC, comparison microscopy, ESDA and Raman Spectroscopy.  

Entry Requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course are that a student must hold one of the following qualifications:

  • Honours degree of the level 2.2 or above from a United Kingdom university or its equivalent in an appropriate discipline (forensic science, biology, chemistry, law etc) qualification or experience deemed to be equivalent to any of the above.

Programme at a Glance

Semester 1

  • Research Methods
  • Handwriting Analysis and Signature Comparison
  • Typescript and Printing Methods

Semester 2

  • The Expert Witness in the Legal Process
  • Document Investigation
  • Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance

Semester 3

  • MSc Research Project

Postgraduate Advice Event

The next UCLan Postgraduate Advice Event will be on Thursday 10th November 2016.
For details and registration for this event please visit our Eventbrite page.
Please contact Course Enquiries with any queries regarding postgraduate study and research.

Further Information

Modules are assessed through theoretical and practical examinations as well as coursework. Assessments include the examination of suspect documents and pieces of equipment from simulated cases and the production of formal case notes and expert reports, as well as essays, mock courtroom trials, group and individual presentations and a dissertation. Upon graduating from this course you will be well placed to gain employment in forensic science laboratories, police investigation teams, fraud departments in major government or private organisations, or to go on to further research in academia. 

MSc Document Analysis is designed to enable graduate students and forensic practitioners to understand and develop the theoretical knowledge underpinning all aspects of forensic document examination and to develop skills in a variety of areas, which concern the processing, analysis, identification and interpretation of questioned documents. The course provides intensive training in all areas of forensic document analysis and provides extensive practical training in the areas of the analysis and identification of handwriting, signatures, printing apparatus and fraudulent documents. The course also provides you with training to act as an expert witness and presentation and communication skills. 

You will study the principles underpinning the scientific analysis of handwriting and signatures together with the considerations involved when carrying out forensic casework. This course will also provide practical experience in the examination of printing equipment, typewriters, photocopiers and the identification of forged or counterfeit documents. You will be trained in a number of analytical techniques using highly specialised apparatus, such as the use of the video spectral comparator, a comparison microscope, ESDA (Electrostatic Detection Apparatus) and a Raman Spectrometer. In addition, the course will provide you with the opportunity to develop a large number of transferable skills.

Upon graduating from this course you will be well placed to gain employment in forensic science laboratories, police investigation teams and fraud departments in major government or private organisations, or to go on to further research in academia at doctoral level.

How to Apply

You can apply for many of the postgraduate UCLan courses using our Online Application System.

For other postgraduate courses you can apply directly to UCLan by downloading a Postgraduate Application Form (.pdf 190KB) please also see our Postgraduate Application Guidance Notes (.pdf 158KB).

Course Specification and Handbook

For a concise summary of the main features of this course, see our course specification.
For information on possible changes to course information, see our Important Information.

For detailed information about studying this course at UCLan, please see the course handbook for your year of entry:


Apply now or see further information about postgraduate study and research. International students should visit our international pages.

Contact Us

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400


Fees 2017/18

Full-time: £6,300 per year (UK/EU)

Tuition Fees are per year unless otherwise stated and may be subject to increase annually in line with UK Retail Price Index inflation rate

Further information:

For 2016/17 fees please refer to our fees page.

New UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme

The UK Government has confirmed that a new postgraduate loan scheme will be introduced for students commencing a Full Masters Postgraduate programmes from 2016/17 academic year.

View further information

Learning Environment and Assessment

The dedicated laboratory for this course houses an ESDA and a VSC-5000 and this is where MSc students will take a wide range of practical classes, carry out simulated casework and conduct laboratory-based dissertation research projects. Students will also have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation within the Analytical Unit. The Unit houses gas chromatographs with pyrolysis injection capability and FID, MS and EC detectors, ion chromatographs and high performance liquid chromatographs with diode array fluorescence, MS and Differential refractometer detectors. The Unit also houses facilities for Atomic absorption, UV-Visible and Infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, NMR spectrometry, Inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry and Scanning Electron Microscopy With Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDAX).

Modules will be assessed through theory and practical examinations, and coursework (essays, moot courts, presentations and a dissertation). Students will be required to examine documents and equipment, produce case notes and reports.

Please note that Distance Learning students will be required to attend a two-week residential workshop at UCLan’s Preston campus during Semester 2. More information will be provided about this in Semester 1.

Course Content

The course content of the MSc Document Analysis is as follows:

Semester 1

Research Methods: This module covers a wide range of skills including reading and writing technical documentation, project management, data analysis and retrieval, writing and research skills, and library use.

Handwriting Analysis and Signature Comparisons: This module deals with the theories and practices of forensic handwriting analysis and the identification of questioned handwriting and signatures. Students will gain practical experience in the analysis of samples and the production of formal case notes and reports.

Typescript and Printing Methods: This module is concerned with the analytical and identification principles of printing methods. Students will gain practical experience of printing equipment analysis, typewriter and photocopier examination, and the documents produced using those methods.

Semester 2

The Expert Witness in the Legal Process: This module covers communication skills and provides background and training in expert witness delivery, the study of British and International Law.

Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance: This module involves students, working in small groups to develop protocols, best practice and quality assurance procedures for a document analysis consultancy. Students then undertake simulated casework as a consultancy and present findings to professional forensic standards.

Document Investigation: This module covers knowledge and practical experience of the techniques used in the forensic examination of suspect documentation. Areas include altered, forged, counterfeit and damaged documents, indented impressions and their importance.

Semester 3

MSc Research Project: The project will be based within the University or on a placement with a suitable document examination provider or analytical unit.