Fire Scene Investigation MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Fire Scene Investigation MSc/PGDip/PGCert

School of Engineering


Post- graduate





Contact UCLan

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

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400

  • Duration:

    One year full-time; two or three years part-time

  • Level:


  • Mode:


  • Delivery:

    Campus, Full-time and Part-time

  • Campus:


  • Start Date:

    September / January

  • Award Type:


Why study this programme?

MSc Fire Scene Investigation covers fire scene investigation theory and practice. It is the scientific approach to the examination, analysis and interpretation of evidence which can be found at a fire scene.

As a Fire Scene Investigator you will determine the origin and cause of a fire through the application of practical skills and scientific knowledge from a variety of disciplines. You will also require excellent written and verbal communication skills to ensure investigative conclusions are effectively communicated. This is often carried out in a high pressure environment such a criminal or civil court.

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Entry Requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course are:

  • Honours degree of the level 2.2 or above from a UK university or of the CNAA or its equivalent in an appropriate engineering or science discipline (forensic science, biology, chemistry, fire safety engineering etc.)
  • Degree or HNC or HND in an appropriate discipline, together with appropriate professional experience
  • Qualification or experience deemed to be equivalent to any of the above.

Programme at a Glance

Year 1

  • Research Methods
  • Fires in Buildings
  • Accidents and Catastrophes

Year 2

  • Expert Witness in the Legal Process
  • Practical Fire Investigation
  • Computer Fluid Dynamics

Year 3

  • Research Project (Triple module; Can be completed in year 2)

Further Information

This postgraduate course covers fire scene investigation theory and practice, the principles of fuels, sources of ignition and fire behaviour in buildings, fire modelling and computational fire dynamics in relation to fire cause and development hypothesis testing, providing evidence as an expert witness in court, the anatomy of large scale accidents and catastrophes, and research skills. The theory and practical sessions will build confidence through the development of practical expertise and specialist knowledge in the field of fire scene investigation and reporting protocols.

Postgraduate Fire Scene Investigation at UCLan is accredited by the Institution of Fire Engineers and the Energy Institute.


Fire in Buildings

  • Review of Engineering Fluid Mechanics
  • Review of Heat Transfer
  • Review of Fire as a Combustion system
  • Compartment Fires
  • Smoke Production , Properties and Control
  • Human Behaviour and Movements of People in Fire
  • Fire Analysis and Fire Modelling
  • Fire Extinguishment and Fire Suppression in Enclosures.

Research Methods

  • Research skills
  • Scientific writing
  • Project management
  • Health and safety
  • Ethics and Intellectual property
  • Presentation skills
  • Experimental design and Data analysis
  • Use of spread sheets, databases & statistical software programmes.

Practical Fire Investigation

  • Sources of Ignition
  • Locating the Seat of Fire
  • Electricity
  • Information Collection
  • Legal Aspects of the Investigation
  • Fire Scene Safety
  • Laboratory analysis of fire debris
  • Fire fatalities
  • Management of fire investigation.
  • Deployment of a Fire Investigation Dog
  • Ignitable Liquids
  • Explosions

Accidents and Catastrophes

  • Introduction to accidents, catastrophes, hazards & disasters
  • Industry-related risks and hazards
  • Accidents and catastrophes in industry
  • Accidents and catastrophes in specific industries
  • Main dangers of different accidents and catastrophes
  • Catastrophe prevention
  • Terrorist attacks and threats
  • Emergency management
  • Case Studies

Computational Fluid Dynamics

  • Mathematical models of fluid flows
  • Models of turbulence
  • Multiphase, reacting and discontinuous flows
  • Spatial discretization of the fluid dynamics equations
  • Time-stepping procedures for fluid dynamics equations
  • Numerical grids & Boundary conditions
  • Validation and verification of numerical solutions
  • Experimental numerical methods
  • Post-processing and visualization
  • Fundamental principles of numerical computing
  • Elements of programming.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Pre-emergency elements of integrated emergency management (IEM) anticipation, assessment, prevention, preparation
  • Emergency preparedness and planning arrangements in the Devolved Administrations
  • Local and National arrangements for risk assessment
  • Business continuity management
  • Warning and informing the public
  • Emergency planning
  • Government's strategy for enhancing resilience.
  • Principles of effective response

Expert Witness in the English Legal System

  • Communication skills
  • Background and training in expert witness delivery
  • Study of British and International Law.
  • Moot Court

Fire Science Dissertation

The subject studied will be variable depending upon the Masters programme, student’s interest and the supervisory expertise available. Topics may arise from fire engineering/fire safety. fire investigation and fire and rescue service management In all cases they will be approved by staff before the project is commenced. Students will be expected to take a major responsibility for designing, conducting, analysing and interpreting the results of a substantial investigation which will make a contribution to the discipline.

Fire in Buildings

  • Review of Engineering Fluid Mechanics
  • Review of Heat Transfer
  • Review of Fire as a Combustion system
  • Compartment Fires
  • Smoke Production , Properties and Control
  • Human Behaviour and Movements of People in Fire
  • Fire Analysis and Fire Modelling
  • Fire Extinguishment and Fire Suppression in Enclosures
  • Research Project (Completion date by Agreement)

The project will be based within the University or on a placement with a suitable fire investigation agency or analytical unit. The result should be a publishable quality paper and students will also be required to give a presentation of their findings.

How to Apply

Our Postgraduate section has more information around applying including visiting UCLan and the support available.

If you want to continue and apply now, 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).


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

For information on possible changes to course information, see our Important Information.


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 2020/21

Full-time: £6,900 per year (UK/EU)
Part-time: £765 per 20 credits (UK/EU)

Further information:

For 2019/20 fees please refer to our fees page.

UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme

If you're thinking of studying a master's or doctoral degree you could be eligible for a loan from the Government to help you study.

For additional help with financing your studies, UCLan offers a range of Postgraduate scholarships, studentships, bursaries and the Alumni loyalty discount.

View further information

Industry Links

Accredited by Institution of Fire Engineers at Member Grade; Accredited by Energy Institute at Member Grade with Chartered status available with additional post qualification development.

Learning Environment and Assessment

Theoretical is undertaken at the University using state of the art facilities. Practical sessions are carried out at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Training Centre using live burn facilities and full scale room investigations.