Forensic and Conservation Genetics MSc

Forensic and Conservation Genetics MSc

School of Forensic and Applied Sciences


Post- graduate





Contact UCLan

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

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400

  • Duration:

    Full-time: One year, Part-time: Two years

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  • Delivery:

    Campus, Full-time and Part-time

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Why study this programme?

This course, which uniquely combines forensic genetic and conservation genetic elements within one of the largest forensic science academic departments in the world, runs in conjunction with other well established and popular MSc courses. Students will learn the fundamentals of molecular genetics, population genetics and phylogenetics that underpin the disciplines of forensic and conservation genetics and develop both theoretical knowledge and practical application.

Small cohort sizes will allow the use of a diverse range of assessments and the provision of considerable student support. Teaching will be carried out using a combination of lectures, tutorials, practicals, computer workshops and self-directed study. In addition to six taught modules, students will undertake a three-module research project which will develop laboratory and research skills. Depending on availability, students may also have an opportunity to visit and gain field experience at the Maasai Centre for Field Studies in Kenya.     

Entry Requirements

The minimum entry requirement is an honours degree of 2.2 or above from a UK university (or its equivalent) in an appropriate discipline eg, biology, zoology, animal conservation, forensic science, genetics. Typically, our students have a 2.1 degree or higher qualification.

Programme at a Glance

Semester 1

Research Methods: Trains students in a wide range of skills including technical documentation, project management, library use, data analysis and retrieval, and writing and research skills.

Forensic Genetics I: Introduces the principles, methods, and techniques of molecular biology that are relevant to DNA profiling.

Forensic Genetics II: Familiarises students with current DNA profiling techniques and the analysis/interpretation of DNA profiles. Students will develop a critical understanding of the procedures involved in DNA profiling through the analysis of mock cases.

Semester 2

Evaluation of genetic data: Centres on the statistical analysis and interpretation of genetic data, and on the evolutionary and population genetics that influence the frequencies of these markers.

Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance: Students work in a small group and develop protocols and quality assurance procedures for a consultancy in their specialist field. They will also undertake simulated casework and present their findings.

Conservation Genetics: Provides students with an insight into fundamental concepts of conservation genetics and the application of appropriate genetic analyses of wildlife conservation and wildlife forensic science.

Semester 3

Research Project: Every student will undertake a research project, which will utilise and develop many of the skills learnt on the course. The project will be entirely based within the University or in an approved collaborating institute.

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

Awards: MSc. Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) on completion of Part 1 only; Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) on completion of Parts 1 and 2 only; and MSc on completion of entire course.

This course is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1 lays the foundation for study and includes training in aspects of research and forensic genetics; 
  • Part 2 builds on this knowledge with more detailed specialist training and allows students to work on a group project with simulated casework
  • Part 3 constitutes the dissertation, a research project undertaken individually by students.

Academic Aims

A. Knowledge and Understanding

A1. Analyse complex problems involving specific aspects of forensic and conservation genetics and be able to design and implement a suitable solution.
A2. Present forensic information and be aware of the role of the expert witness.
A3. Apply data handling skills, effectively plan a project and use documentation skills in an appropriate manner.
A4. Design, plan and implement solutions to complex problems in forensic and conservation genetics and be capable of analysing the effectiveness of such solutions.
A5. Develop and write a research project within guidelines and be able to assess the success of such a project.
A6. Apply the skills developed on the course to a relevant individual project.
A7. Synthesise solutions to problems involving several aspects of forensic and conservation genetics either independently and/or as a team member.

B. Subject-specific skills

B1. Implement forensic and conservation genetics solutions to complex problems.
B2. Effectively communicate forensic and conservation genetics solutions with both experts and non-experts.
B3. Research information from literature/manuals/internet.
B4. Critically evaluate different potential solutions to a problem.

C. Thinking Skills

C1. Critically evaluate technical and non-technical information
C2. Plan and conduct a practical research project.
C3. Communicate results
C4. Assimilate ideas quickly.

D. Other skills relevant to employability and personal development

D1. Work to deadlines.
D2. Work in a team.
D3. Work independently under minimum supervision.
D4. Generate original ideas.
D5. Synthesise knowledge.

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)
Part-time: £1,000 per 20 credit module (first 6 modules) (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 forensic genetics group has dedicated pre and post-PCR laboratories housing an ABI3500, two ABI310 machines, an ABI7500 real-time PCR machine, a number of ABI2700 PCR machines, gel imaging systems, and several PCR cabinets. MSc students will carry out laboratory-based dissertation research projects within these well equipped modern laboratories. Research topics within the group are diverse, ranging from forensic genetics and human genetics, to wildlife forensics and forensic entomology. This will ensure that a wide choice of dissertation topics is available to our students. We also have a number of full-time and part-time MRes/MPhil/PhD students and an interest in research is actively encouraged and maintained throughout the year via seminars/ discussions.

The course will be delivered through lectures, tutorials, computer workshops, and practical classes, working independently or as part of a group. At least an equal amount of time should be spent in private study reading around the subject. Guided teaching and formal assessments on this course will enhance the development of a number of transferable skills such as the production of written case reports, formal presentations, active participation in discussions, ability to work to deadlines, computing skills, scientific analysis, adherence and development of laboratory protocols, and research methods.

Assessment is predominantly through coursework except for one module which is assessed by both examination and coursework. Coursework will include written essays, laboratory reports, case reports, presentations and in Part 3, a dissertation. 


Students graduating from this course will be well placed to undertake further research at the doctoral level or take up jobs in forensic/genetics/veterinary/diagnostic/wildlife protection laboratories.

Two of our graduates have taken on jobs as DNA analysts while a others have gone on to undertake further degrees or research towards a MPhil/PhD.

Depending on availability, students may have an opportunity to visit and gain field experience at the Maasai Centre for Field Studies in Kenya.