So, the secret’s out, you’ve watched every crime show that exists, aspire to be like Forensic Scientist Abby Scuito (NCIS) and can’t imagine studying anything else other than a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS?!
Well, before you get your fingerprints all over this degree (sorry but it was a must), we’ve investigated (whoops, there we go again) everything you need to know about the core units, majors, assessments, uni culture and more!
So, let’s take a closer look!
What is a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS?
Apart from being a super cool degree, a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS provides you with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge you need to work in the world of Forensic Science. It’s a hands on degree that develops your practical skills and problem-solving through mock crime scene scenarios.
In the first year, you’ll cover some science and mathematical subjects which provide a good basis for the degree. After that, you decide what Forensic Science major you want to specialise in and you’ll cover both the theory and practical aspects of it.
Of course, you’re going to learn all that exciting stuff like fingerprinting, how to process evidence in a lab, how to explain your evidence in court and way more! There’s also an emphasis on finding ways to prevent crime which is an emerging field of research within Forensic Science.
You’ll be taught by people in the field who have actually worked on crime scenes, in laboratories or are currently doing research in the field – there’s no better way to learn!
Can it be studied with another degree?
There’s the opportunity to complete an Honours year (as long as you maintain a credit average) and there are also some great double degrees! You can take your Bachelor of Forensic Science to the next level by combining it with either:
There are a range of exciting job opportunities after having completed a Bachelor of Forensic Science. It depends on your major but possible roles in which you could end up include:
- DNA Specialist
- Explosive Specialist
- Forensic Scientist
- Crime Scene Officer
- Digital Forensic Analyst
…and so on (the list goes on and on!)
You could potentially find yourself working for the police, in a hospital, laboratories, customs or even conducting research!
Core Units and Majors
The core units are spread throughout the three years of the degree which gives you a thorough understanding of the science stuff and also the really juicy crime and forensics subjects.
In the first year, everyone does Chemistry 1 and 2 where you cover the basic principles of chem which gives you good foundations for the rest of the degree (even if you don’t choose the Chemistry major, all that knowledge will come in handy!). Principles of Scientific Practice focuses on academic writing, research and analysis of data/information.
Mathematical Modelling for Science equips you with the skills you need for any science-based degree; so we’re talking problem-solving, lots of equations and big numbers! You’ll get a quick recap of high school biology in the subject Cell Biology and Genetics which looks at genetics, DNA and how cells function.
Alrighty – now to those cool forensics subjects! In Principles of Forensics Science, your knowledge will extend beyond what you learnt from all those crime shows while the subject, Forensics Statistics focuses on probability theory, analysis of datasets and interpretation of evidence (you’ll spend a bit of time in the computer labs for this one).
Since documentation is a very important part of forensics, you’ll learn how to use a camera and enhance images using programs like Adobe Photoshop in Forensic Imaging.
In the second year, you take a really exciting subject – Crime Scene Investigation where you learn how to process a crime scene and even do fingerprinting. You’ll develop all these practical skills in the Crime Scene Simulation Lab where you work in small groups – we’re talking mock settings like a bedroom, kitchen, living room and office with evidence lying around that you have to bag and investigate.
You’ll learn how to analyse and document forensic traces in Criminalistics which again includes mock crime scene scenarios (yay!).
In your final year, you complete the last three core units! Forensic Intelligence looks at volume crime and how to prevent it, so you’ll find links between datasets and learn how to organise it.
The subject Complex Cases is very practical and includes mock crime scene scenarios where you start at the crime scene, investigate and document everything and then actually build a case and present your findings to the class. For the Forensic Research Project, students develop their research skills and work on an original research project related to an area of Forensic Science (it’s a great way to test the waters for what an Honours year could be like).
In your second year, you get to choose a major! Depending on what career you’re interested in within the Forensic Science world, there are four awesome majors to choose from including Chemistry, Biology, Crime Scene Investigation or Digital Forensics.
What’s a Crime Scene Investigation Major like?
Now, if you want to be investigating the crime scene, then this major is for you (it’s a pretty cool one if we may say so ourselves). You’ll spend a lot of time in the Crime Scene Simulation lab because it’s a very practical and hands on major with lots of mock crime scene scenarios – which is great because you’re learning how to do the job in a similar environment!
You’ll also use the skills you learnt in Chemistry 1 and 2 for chemical processing of fingerprinting and even just how different lighting techniques reflect evidence like blood. After having completed the Major Scene Investigation subject (where all the exams are prac based!), you’ll be equipped with all the skills of a Forensic Investigator (now, that’s what we’re talking about).
You’ll learn how to search more complex crime scenes and also go more into depth about different lab techniques for examining evidence. For example, you might find fingerprints or a knife in the mock kitchen room and then you’ll have to process them in the lab and write it all up.
In Homicide Investigation, you’ll hear from experts in the field, people who have investigated real crime scenes and of course, there will be practical components in the Crime Scene Simulation Lab.
In the Autumn session of your final year, you get to choose four electives! You can actually choose to do almost any of the electives UTS offers – cross disciplinary electives.
There are all kinds of interesting ones like Foundations in International Studies, Climate Justice and Climate Policy or even Communicating Nations: Media and National Identities plus way more. And of course, you can choose to do some of the more science/maths focused electives – take a look at them here!
Opportunities for internships in this degree are pretty rare (there are more risks involved with confidentiality and so on…) so you have to grab them when they come!
Sometimes you’ll get an email if one comes up or perhaps your tutor or lecturer knows someone. So be sure to keep a good eye out.
How to Get into a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS
You’ll need an ATAR of 85.35 to secure your spot for a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS. If you’ve completed either Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics and scored either a Band 4, 5 or 6, then check out the Year 12 Adjustment Factors Scheme for extra points (neat!).
So, you really don’t want to give up your dream of becoming the next Abby Scuito but you didn’t get the ATAR for a Bachelor of Forensic Science? Don’t worry because you can study a Diploma of Science with UTS Insearch and if you meet the required GPA, you’ll jump right into the second year of a Bachelor of Forensic Science where you can choose from a Chemistry, Biology or Crime Scene Investigations Major.
If you want to take the Digital Forensics Major, then a Diploma of IT with UTS Insearch will get you ready for the second year as well! The Diplomas can be completed in a year (standard) or even just 8 months (accelerated).
You should have completed Mathematics, any two units of Science and of course, English in the HSC. If you’ve studied Mathematics Extension 1, Chemistry and Physics, then you’re already off to a head start and it will be less stressful!
There are many scholarships for different faculties at UTS which can be found here!
What’s the Teaching Format?
A Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS combines lectures, pracs, labs and sometimes, workshops. You’ll complete the degree through semesters (thank goodness!).
The lectures are where you learn the content and write lots of notes! Sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to hear from experts in the field as guest speakers – it’s pretty cool to get taught by actual Forensic Scientists who worked on a crime the week before your lecture!
It depends on the subject but you can expect around 30 to 40 people to show up – give or take a few.
Now, pracs are the exciting and really hands-on part with a small class size of about 15 people! These classes are where you’ll already feel like you’re working in the world of Forensic Science.
Pracs are usually three hours and where you’ll develop all those practical skills from learning how to do fingerprinting to documenting a mock crime scene to examining evidence in the lab.
For some of the subjects like Forensic Statistics and Forensic Intelligence which deal with data and organising information, you’ll spend a bit of time in the computer labs. These are around two hours and also have around 20 people.
These are similar to tutorials where you revise the theory, complete group activities and join in on discussions. You’ll usually have to complete a few small online activities before you attend the workshop to help prepare you.
These class sizes are usually smaller – between 20 to 30 people. It’s important to note that not every subject has workshops, it depends on the type of subject.
How many hours do you spend at university?
When you study a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS, you’ll take four subjects a semester on a full-time load. So, you’re looking at around 5 to 7 contact hours a subject which is between 20 to 28 hours a week on campus (this can of course slightly vary depending on the different subjects and majors).
It’s also good to keep in mind that a lot of the subjects require you to complete online activities before the class to both prepare you and help you revise what you should know.
What are the assessments like?
In the first year, there are a fair few science-based subjects so you can expect to have a mix of quizzes and exams. As you move onto the second year with the different majors, the kinds of assessments depend on the subject but the whole degree is very practical-based.
This means that a lot of the exams are pracs – which is great because they’re preparing you for the real world.
For example, in the core unit Complex Cases, the class works together on the same case, the students are divided into groups and they have the whole semester to solve it. Students are given a box of evidence, have to process the crime scene, document everything, test the evidence and write up an Expert Witness Report!
So, a lot of the assessments combine the key concepts/principles of Forensic Science with the practical skills! Of course, there are also some theory exams and report writing along the way (but mostly pracs – yay!).
Skills You Refine and Learn
Well, of course, you’ll learn all those practical skills such as fingerprinting and different forensic/lab techniques (plus way more!). You’ll develop your communication skills throughout the degree which is very important because you have to be able to collaborate with others and explain your evidence in the courtroom – there are lots of speeches and group work to get you ready for this!
There’s also a focus on refining your research skills since this is an emerging area in the field of Forensic Science and can help with solving and preventing crimes. You’ll learn how to find certain articles and analyse different case studies.
The final semester subject Forensic Research Project is an exciting opportunity to not only develop your research skills but also contribute to research being done!
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
First things first, all the students studying a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS have two things in common: they’ve all watched every single crime show out there (so, you can imagine the banter) and they’re all extremely passionate about what they do. That means that the students show up to class because they’re interested and want to be there.
So, as you could imagine, within a short amount of time, everyone’s face becomes familiar and you get to know each other really well (especially since it’s a smaller cohort). There’s no denying that you’re bound to make an awesome bunch of friends throughout the degree.
UTS Forensic Society (FSS)
You should definitely check out the UTS Forensic Science Society (FSS) because they’ve got both your social life and professional development covered! We’re talking welcome drinks, movie/trivia nights, picnics and the annual Science Ball as well as industry panel events and networking nights where you get to meet/hear from people in the field!
Tanna Nankivell is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is currently in Germany completing a year of study for her double degree in Communications (Journalism) and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies). She has had articles published on Central News – the UTS Journalism Lab and wrote a feature piece for Time Out Sydney during her internship. Tanna has a love for travel and the great outdoors, you’ll either find her on the snowfields or in the ocean, teaching aqua aerobics or creating short films.