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Course content

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.

  • The delivery of the course involves a partnership between The West Midlands Fire Service, 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.
  • The Fire Investigation facility situated at the Oldbury Fire Investigation centre will allow the student a unique hands-on practical experience that is not offered by any other MSc course in the Midlands region.
  • This course provides opportunities for experienced fire investigators and forensic scene investigators to fast-track to an MSc degree.

Postgraduate Bursaries:

  1. If you commenced undergraduate study at any University in 2012 you may be eligible for a £10,000 bursary

What happens on the course?

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.

Research Methods

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.

Research Project

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.

Why Wolverhampton?

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.

Career path

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:

  • Crime scene investigators.
  • Fire Investigators working for Fire Services.
  • Independent Fire Investigators working for a range of insurance companies.
  • The MSc also provides suitable preparation for further research/professional study at Doctoral level leading to a PhD or Professional doctorate (DBMS).

What skills will you gain?

At the end of this course you, the student, will demonstrate:

  1. a systematic understanding of the underpinning science, technology and legal issues that informs fire investigation;
  2. a comprehensive understanding of the investigative techniques and the current tools used in fire investigation;
  3. the ability to critically evaluate current research and methodologies in fire investigation;
  4. originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in fire investigation.

Visit the Fire Scene Investigation - MSc page on the University of Wolverhampton website for more details!

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