This course aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the underlying theories and their practical application in fire investigation. You will also experience extensive practical experience of the major techniques, methodologies and approaches used in fire investigation. In addition you will develop your skills in critical thinking using a range of academic paradigms by undertaking an extensive research project in the field of fire investigation.
If you commenced undergraduate study at any University in 2012 you may be eligible for a £10,000 bursary
Fire Science and Building Construction
This module will introduce you to the basic science that underpins the investigation of fire scenes. You will be introduced to the chemistry of combustion, including consideration of the effects of ventilation, physical properties of combustible materials and ignition sources. You will look at the ontogeny and progression of combustion events, but also the legal and health and safety aspects underpinning fire science.
Evidence Gathering at Fire Scenes
This module will cover all aspects of the practical steps needed to identify and gather evidence at Fire Scenes. Integral to this module will be an appreciation of issues of continuity and integrity and an awareness of the differences between criminal and other investigations of scenes of fire.
Fire Scene Investigation Practical
You will gain direct practical experience of undertaking a fire scene investigation at the Oldbury facility of the West Midlands Fire Service. This module will expose you to a simulated fire scene, where you will have to carry out the full investigation of documenting and recording the scene, followed by evidence identification and recovery.
Interpretation of Fire Scenes
This module will allow you to utilise the various evidence strands that are present in fire scenes to work out the cause, origin and spread of fires. You will then discuss the effects of fire and products of combustion on the human body, including human behaviour.
Managing Fire Scene Investigations and Report Writing
This module will provide an in-depth analysis of the considerations surrounding the management of the investigations of fire scenes. There will be an overview of personnel involved, their roles and contribution to the investigation. The module will also describe the preparation of written and oral testimony for courts of law. Finally the presentation of the report in oral testimony will be reviewed.
provides you with the necessary skills to undertake a research project in this exciting area. The module will include a project specific literature review, experimental design and project planning, an oral presentation and an introduction to statistics in investigating experimental questions.
The research project in Fire Investigation is an integral part of the course and is intended to develop research skills in persons undertaking careers in forensic mark comparison. As well as applying the scientific approach to research coupled with statistical validation of results from the research methods module, genuine case-based research will be undertaken at the University, in one of the course partners or at a number of alternative providers.
a) The delivery of the course would involve a partnership between one of the leading centres of fire investigation in the UK and the University. Both partners have an established track record in delivering training and education with a vocational aspect in this area.
b) The Oldbury Fire Investigation facility will allow the student a unique hands-on practical experience that is not offered by any other MSc course in the Midlands region.
c) There are opportunities for experienced fire investigators and forensic scene investigators to fast-track to the MSc.
Unfortunately, fires are always going to happen. There will always be a need to investigate these as the consequences of fires are extensive damage to persons and property. The applied nature of this course means that a number of career paths are available to you. These include:
At the end of this course you, the student, will demonstrate:
The Forensic Science programme will provide you with advanced knowledge of the forensic processes (particularly chemistry and biology) and analytical techniques used in crime investigation. It is the longest-running accredited programme of its type in England.
Accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, our Forensic Sciences study programme is the longest-running programme of its type in England, having been first established in 1985.
You will benefit from an advanced and flexible study programme devised and delivered by internationally leading researchers, and recognised forensic providers including our accredited DNA analysis and Drug Control Centre testing laboratories. We also collaborate closely with the Metropolitan Police Forensic Services Directorate in both teaching and research.
The course is made up of two 15 credit modules and three 30 credit modules followed by a 60 or 120 credit research module. If you are studying full-time, you will complete the course in one year, from September to September. If you are studying for the MRes qualification, you will study an extended research module that carries a further 120 credits to complete the course.
For flexibility, a significant proportion of the course will be delivered by narrated PowerPoint. Teaching time includes workshops, group discussions and problem-based learning exercises. Approximate total contact hours for the taught modules is 360-hours.
You are also expected to undertake 840 hours of team and individual study.
Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.
Current evaluation methods include examinations, MCQs, witness statements, courtroom appearance, crime scene management and assignments.
Formative assessments are carried out as teamwork with both peer and academic feedback. This is designed to help students with the subsequent summative assessments.
The study time and assessment methods detailed above are typical and give you a good indication of what to expect. However, they are subject to change.
You will also need to have either started or completed a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations.
Most of our students go on to work in the forensic science sector with forensic service providers within the UK, European and International field being the major employers. Others have taken employment with the Metropolitan Police or crime scene departments of other police forces. Many of our Canadian graduates now work for the RCMP or the Toronto Centre for Forensic Sciences. Some of our students go on to do a PhD either at King's College London or other universities across the country.