Diploma in Forensic Science


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Diploma in Forensic Science

Why Oxford Learning College 


There has been a rise in interest in this subject due to the rise of television programmes covering police and crime investigations, and these, as well as actual case study material, provide useful material for this course. Forensic science is essentially the application of scientific principles for the resolution of legal disputes or as legal evidence or to prove/ disprove a crime. The aim is to provide impartial information which can be used to establish whether a crime has been committed and to evaluate physical evidence of a crime. This course provides a broad overview of the principles and techniques of forensic science, how evidence is analysed and interpreted, and how it is presented in court processes in the UK, and will follow UK legislation. Some knowledge of anatomy and physiology, basic understanding of statistics and analysis of data and chemistry to GCSE level is required.


Course Content


Unit 1: Role of forensic science and the crime scene


Forensic science is defined as the application of scientific techniques and technology to establish facts relating to a crime. It involves teaching knowledge about the recovery of evidence and establishing the events of a crime using intelligence information. The process is then taken to the laboratory. Quality assurance and maintaining integrity of the crime scene, use of an audit trail and evidence recovery is discussed since it can affect the outcome in court. Many of the tasks in crime scene processing can be tedious and mundane, but the recording the crime scene must be done professionally and accurately and is covered in depth. Modern computerised techniques aid e.g.in gathering and interpreting evidence, and in the recovery of physical and digital evidence is explored.


Unit 2: Evidence: trace and contact


Key principles and practices are covered so that trace and contact evidence recovery of materials from the crime scene is done accurately. The factors and issues that affect how evidence is gathered in various processes such as finger prints identification, its classification and use in latent material. How the body leaves evidence and how it can be assessed is explored by looking at our anatomy such as hair growth, different body fluids, DNA-evidence and how finger-prints form. Other evidence covered includes footwear impressions, bite, tool, paint, soil samples, and tyre marks, and textile evidence. Several key cases and how they were influenced and solved by evidence forensics are discussed.


Unit 3: Body fluids and DNA


The main body fluids that can be analysed are discussed in the background of how and where they are produced in the body. The processes and analytical techniques used are complicated and up-to-date knowledge and experience in e.g. Blood and bloodstain pattern analysis is encouraged. People are unique, but some properties of fluids are very common so how to differentiate, identify any errors, and use this in possible identification is explored. Saliva and saliva analysis, semen and analysis, and DNA profiling, the involvement of mathematics in and analysis is investigated.


Unit 4: Toxicology


The legal classification and commonly abused drugs and common poisons are that they produce a damaging and lethal effect. How they affect the body is covered in order to learn how to assess possible misuse of different substances and chemicals. The methods of analysis of toxic substances is explored for a range of common drugs and poisons since often harm is done by drugs which maybe be perfectly acceptable, e.g. prescribed drugs which can do harm e.g. in the case of Harold Shipman who used medicines to overdose his patients. The routes of uptake and elimination of toxic substances is considered.


Unit 5: Documents as evidence


The skills and expertise with appropriate technology needed in examining documents as evidence is crucial when presenting material to the courts. This section begins to teach ways of analysing handwritten documents, made easier by the advancement of technology e.g. electron microscope, and the difficulties involved. Practical activities and investigation of actual cases, such as that of Chris Cotter and analysis of some Hate mail, are given to help with practise of e.g. signature analysis and analysis of word-processed documents and copies. Other materials investigated are printed material e.g. [fake] passports and money, analysis of inks, paper and paper folds, tears, and anomalies.


Unit 6: Firearms


The use of firearms in the UK (Europe) remains low when compared to other countries, but their use is increasing. The type of firearms and their attached components like silencer is covered here as their examination and that of the aftermath of the shooting scene can give useful information. Also investigated are the use of various ammunition and the ballistics (study of the projectile or bullet), including the harm and evidence left on the body or scene just as entry and exit wound, blood splatter or gunshot residue. Experience of the examination of firearms, spent cartridge cases, and bullets, and gunshot residue analysis is explained in helping form an opinion of a possible course of a crime. Caution is taught from the over-jealous case of the shooting of Jill Dando, a TV journalist where Barry George was convicted due to one particle of gunshot on his jacket. He was later freed as it became apparent that this particle could have come from anywhere, including the forensic scientists!


Unit 7: Fires, explosions and explosives


Arson is a common crime. The materials involved in fire and explosions are vast, so the matter can only be reviewed, using actual case study examples. Investigation of the scene begins as soon as the fire is extinguished and safety is assured as a fire or an explosion can cause extensive damage. The nature and behaviour of fire, where it began and detailed documentation of the fire scene investigation are explored. Fire, heat, explosives and the objects damaged take on or have many chemical and biological factors which are covered. How to conduct analysis of accelerants and classification of explosives is investigated. Investigation of explosion scenes and the analysis of explosions and explosives provide knowledge to help assess their use in a crime or an accident e.g. during gas explosive damaging a whole street and killing a family of five. Another recent example was the fire in a Fireworks factory and the police were tasked with proving if it was accidental or fraudulent.


Unit 8: Human remains


Often humans are burnt to remove all trace of a crime, but their investigation can reveal a host of information, e.g. a man who committed billions of pounds of fraud, was thought to have been killed in a shooting after which his body was supposedly burnt due to his teeth being found on the scene. It was later discovered that he has not died at all, but had falsified his death. Often an autopsy is encouraged if the course of death is suspected as having been foul. Forensic archaeology, post-mortem changes and estimation of time of death e.g. from decomposition which can prove difficult and emotive, is explored. The same techniques have been used in identifying the remains and cause of death in very ancient sites. The changes in the human body from death are covered in great detail as its helps in establishing a cause of death and can help in identification of remains.


Unit 9: Statistical analysis


As with all investigation, it is necessary to measure the validity of evidence and the techniques used when making a claim about a possible crime. What measurements are needed, what process is used to gather and interpret data, quantitative analysis, and how accurate are they in determining a hypothesis or making an assertion is covered here. Interpretation of forensic evidence, data types and distribution, accuracy and error is covered. How to conduct hypothesis testing and statistical tests, and the use of the Bayesian approach (a complex theorem used to predict the odds for and against a course of event) is covered in detail.


Unit 10: Forensic science and court


The significant point of a forensic scientist’s work is that they might provide evidence in a court. The legal profession and the structures, processes and types of courts in the United Kingdom, and the personnel involved within them are overviewed. The criminal court system in England Forensic science, reports produced for the court, and how reporting in court by an Expert witnesses to clarify points and findings is discussed.

Entry Requirements

All students must be 16 years of age and above.

Level 3 Diploma courses require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order that students can manage their studies and the assumed knowledge within course content.

Study Hours

Approximately 20 hours per unit

Assessment Method

Final online multiple choice examination.

Please note that you can enrol on this course at anytime.


Diploma in Forensic Science

This course is Quality Assured by the Quality Licence Scheme
Quality Assured by QLS

At the end of this course successful learners will receive an e-Certificate from Oxford Learning College. There is also the option to purchase an Embossed Certificate and also a certificate from ABC Awards for the qualification.

The course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards Quality Licence Scheme. This means that Oxford Learning College has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future.

The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

The course itself has been designed by Oxford Learning College to meet specific learners' and/or employers' requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. ABC Awards endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, and the Welsh Government. It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. As a registered charity, ABC Awards combines 180 years of expertise but also implements a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of our customers. Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards also offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

How can I progress

For more information on how to progress after completing this course, please click here

Additional Information

You will receive a certificate from the College. A digital version is included in the price and will be emailed to you within 5 days of taking your online exam.

Should you require an embossed hard copy of your certificate to be sent to you by Special Delivery post, you can order this separately after taking your exam.

The course can be enrolled upon by students Internationally. There are no deadlines for enrolments.

To view the differences between our qualifications, please click HERE

What's Included

Online study materials to enable the student to successfully complete the Diploma. Support is provided by the tutor department for the duration of the course (1 year). Certification upon completion. All examination fees.

Course Fee


Payment by Instalments

Students are able to pay course fees in monthly instalments. Click here to download our instalment plan.

Further Information

The Quality Assured Diploma is a Level 3 equivalent on the National Qualifications Framework. The Diploma is a 1 year course which is self study and is examined by online examination. The Diploma is awarded by Oxford College. Upon completion of the course you will receive certification awarded by Oxford College.

The Level 3 Diplomas require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order to for students to manage study and the assumed knowledge within course content.

They provide an ability to gain and apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding in a specific subject at a detailed level. Level 3 qualifications such as A levels, NVQ3, BTEC Diplomas etc. are appropriate if you plan to progress to university study.

Level 3 Diploma courses can assist you in career development, continued professional development, personal development, and provision of a basis for further study.

Progression from Level 3 is to specialist learning and detailed analysis of a higher level of information (for example university level study, Diploma Level 5 study).

Your course is delivered online via the Oxford Learning On Campus website.

This is a flexible learning course, so the more time you have to commit to your studies, the sooner you are able to complete.

In the student 'On Campus' you are also able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.

After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access the On Campus area within 3 working days.

Materials and support provided by Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning

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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 26 February, 2013.

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