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.
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:
You develop your knowledge of contemporary theory and practices in criminal investigation, relevant legislation, and information relating to criminal justice studies and criminal law. This cross-disciplinary programme develops your intellectual capability and enhances your understanding of criminal justice both national and international.
Inter-disciplinary by nature, this course incorporates the knowledge of staff with practical experience of investigation, law and research whilst offering a strong academic base. It has a clear focus which merges theory and practice and emphasises the importance of relevant legislation, policies and practices, linking them to the overall theme exploring criminal investigation.
This programme includes a dissertation module which enables you to focus on an aspect of investigation which is of particular interest you, relevant to criminal investigation, but potentially in relation to an area not taught within the programme.
and one optional module
Modules offered may vary.
How you learn
Teaching is student-centred to develop your understanding of theory, practice and presentation.
The programme commences with a three-day block induction period to enable you to meet staff and be introduced to the programme. You then begin a blended learning programme, which involves studying both in the classroom (one evening and one half day) and independently via on-line learning. This increases the flexibility of the programme and it is anticipated this combined approach of on-line study, evening and daytime study offers sufficient flexibility to fit into most lifestyles, whilst offering the benefit of the socialising aspects of group study. It also encourages the development of independent learning skills at an earlier stage in the programme, in readiness for research tasks.
These teaching methods offer you the opportunity to develop subject-specific knowledge and understanding, developing your cognitive-intellectual, practical-professional and generic key skills.
Your research skills are developed during the research module and further developed through the course, enabling you to conduct your research successfully towards more specialist fields of enquiry for your dissertation.
The programme involves high levels of personal responsibility and self-direction. It requires you to work with complex knowledge, theory and concepts appropriate to postgraduate studies. On the completion of this course, you should be able to plan, manage and evaluate your own learning effectively so as to become an independent lifelong learner.
How you are assessed
Formative assessment is ongoing throughout each module, either via on-line tasks or by classroom tasks, offering you feedback to assist you to develop your skills.
This programme adopts a wide range of formal assessment methods which assists you to achieve the learning outcomes and to evaluate the effectiveness of your learning. Essays and other forms of writing are commonly used. These assess your analytical, evaluative and communication skills. Presentations allow you to demonstrate a critical and systematic understanding of the key subject matter.
Seen examinations test your knowledge and information retention as well as your fluency. You are required to undertake appropriate criminal investigation-related research. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to demonstrate an appropriate standard of research and enquiry into a specialised area of investigation, displaying an analytical discussion of that area.
Graduates are equipped to work within, or progress their existing careers in, the criminal justice institutions, such as the police, prison and probation services, other investigation-related institutions and organisations, and relevant private sectors.
Why choose this course?