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Forensic and Investigative Sciences

About the School

The School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at UCLan strives to be internationally-recognised for excellence in teaching and research, providing an unrivalled student experience in order to equip highly-valued graduates for lifelong achievement in the global market.

As the largest School of its kind in the UK, we cover a diverse range of subjects: forensic investigation; policing; criminal investigation; chemistry; forensic chemistry; forensic biology; fire safety and engineering; forensic anthropology; archaeology.

School Divisions


Our degree courses include specialisms such as crime scene investigation, forensic genetics and entomology, forensic anthropology and forensic chemistry. All courses have been accredited by the Forensic Science Society and our teaching staff includes leading academics and former senior crime scene investigators.

CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION : Fingerprint recovery and identification, crime scene photography, the analysis of hairs, fibres, tool marks, blood spatter patterns, and much more. UCLan was the first university in Britain to use crime scene houses for studying purposes. We now have three interconnected scene houses as well as a garaged vehicle examination bay, a large office premises crime scene, and a blood spatter pattern analysis suite. Our dedicated criminalistics laboratory is equipped with cutting-edge microscopy and analytical equipment. All students on forensic science courses take modules in crime scene investigation.

FORENSIC BIOLOGY : Locating biological evidence, blood groupings, DNA extraction and profiling, as well as estimating time since death from insect evidence. Practical classes take place in our forensic biology and forensic genetics laboratories, using the same technology as leading forensic science service providers. The School also has thermal imaging cameras and two dedicated insect incubation laboratories.

FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY : The process of post-mortem decomposition, how to excavate clandestine graves and how to identify and analyse human skeletal remains. Our human skeletal teaching collections contain modern skeletons and archaeological populations, as well as individual specimens and high-quality casts. Two dedicated laboratories are equipped with the full range of osteological instruments.

FORENSIC CHEMISTRY : The examination of chemical evidence, large-scale or trace, from a variety of environments, including recoveries from illicit drug production and distribution or results from fire and explosives investigations. Our new teaching laboratories and analytical unit are amongst the best designed and appointed in the country, containing the latest equipment for forensic investigation, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, high performance liquid chromatography and Raman spectroscopy.

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Our courses in policing are not just for people who want careers in policing or associated professions. They provide you with the skills and high levels of confidence that are valued by private and public sector graduate employers of all kinds. Those keen to pursue a career as a police officer should seriously consider our two-year foundation degree - offered on both our Preston and Burnley Campuses - which is closely based on the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme.

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Taught in our state-of-the-art laboratories, chemistry at UCLan offers a unique learning experience. In addition to providing a solid foundation in the traditional aspects of chemistry, there is a strong emphasis on modern practices and the latest developments at the forefront of the subject.

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Fieldwork and practical skills are a core part of archaeology at UCLan. You will do a minimum of 10 weeks’ fieldwork during your three-year course, with opportunities to take part in local archaeological digs and field surveys, as well as excavations further afield in the UK and abroad. We have excellent facilities including a new archaeological science laboratory which contains areas for processing finds as well as a soil flotation unit, and also a dedicated bone lab for the analysis of human and animal skeletal remains. We have some of the very latest geophysical equipment and software and award-winning online materials.

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We offer one of the largest ranges of courses in fire engineering in Europe. These have been designed and developed with employers and professional bodies and taught by experts in combustion, explosions and fire safety engineering. Our courses are supported by access to facilities at Washington Hall, the UK’s international fire, training and development centre.

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About the School


We have well-established research centres in the areas of materials science, fire and hazards science, investigation and leadership, and archaeology that underpin our consultancy and educational offerings across their disciplines. The School’s taphonomic research facility is unique in Europe. The Taphonomic Research in Anthropology: Centre for Experimental Studies (TRACES) generates cutting-edge research which is regularly published in academic journals and presented at international conferences. Specialist staff in forensic anthropology and forensic genetics frequently undertake, and are available for, casework and consultancy.

Chemistry research is focused within the Centre for Materials Science and covers a broad range of subjects including nano-materials, medicinal chemistry, interdisciplinary analytical science, catalysis and nuclear materials. Research was defined as world-leading and internationally excellent in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise and the Centre has a strong track record of attracting funding both from government sources and industry.

Research Centres

Forensic Genetics

Forensic Anthropology



Dr Tal Simmons


As a leading university for social entrepreneurship UCLan has experience of providing a range of support and services to local, regional and national businesses and organisations.

Over the past three years UCLan has seen a steady increase in the number of its students and graduates starting new businesses. With business support facilities based in Preston, Burnley and Westlakes, UCLan is ranked in the top five nationally and top in the North West for producing student and graduate start-up businesses.

Northern Lights is UCLan’s very own business incubation team and offers extensive and in depth business support to students, graduates and local businesses. Based in UCLan Media Factory, the state-of-the-art business incubation unit delivers a number of business start-up and business growth services.


The School houses the new £12.5-million J B Firth Building to support our capability in chemistry and fire safety and engineering. In addition, our state-of-the-art resources include three crime scene houses, a vehicle examination area, a blood spatter pattern analysis suite, dedicated laboratories for the search and recovery of evidential materials, forensic anthropology, forensic biology and genetics and forensic entomology, together with a Moot Court Room, interview suites and field provision for anthropology and archaeology.

Student Success

As a leading university for student employability and enterprise, UCLan is recognised as being outstanding at providing students with the skills, knowledge, understanding and personal attributes necessary to become self-motivated, self-confident and self-sufficient graduates ideally suited for potential employers. Forensic science equips you with a broad knowledge of biology, chemistry and law. You learn how to be an investigative, analytical thinker. You are numerate and literate, with good communication skills. All these attributes are in great demand!