NEW: Cranfield Forensic Institute Merit Scholarship - up to 15%. Find out more

Elements of some elective modules as part of the course structure for this MSc will be undertaken at Cranfield University at Shrivenham located on the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. Security clearance will be required for completion of these modules. Please refer to our entry requirements section for more details, or see further about security clearance for Cranfield at Shrivenham.

The Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc at Cranfield Forensic Institute is taught by world-leading experts and involves a hands-on practical teaching style with interesting and thought-provoking lectures from our staff and guest speakers. 

You will have the opportunity at getting your hands dirty with practical archaeological excavations, looking at the science and exploring simulated mass grave sites and using a plethora of practical and theory based techniques to understand and analyse the world as we find it.


  • Start dateOctober
  • Duration Full-time: 11 months (MSc), one year (PgDip); Part-time: up to three years (MSc) or two years (PgDip)
  • DeliveryBy written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and oral exam
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

The course offers students a wide range of different experiences with unique facilities available to no other university in the UK. The course is highly practical and hands-on, aiming to produce forensic scientists with a strong background in archaeology and physical anthropology which will help them with their future careers and eventually give them the skills to become experts in these fields.

We find that our students come from a wide range of backgrounds, usually with an archaeological, biological, medical or forensic science first degree, with many coming from abroad, especially African, European and North American countries. 

Why this course?

The MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology course is part of the MSc Forensic Programme, and is designed to give a broad introduction to the subject, rapidly advancing into the understanding of cutting-edge research and the latest methodologies.

You will have access to our purpose-built outdoor taphonomy research facility, our teaching collection of human remains, a virtual autopsy table, a number of analytical instruments and to research projects in the UK and often abroad.

Course details

You will be required to take eight core modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements or interests. This is followed by a four-month research project and thesis.

Some modules for this MSc may be taught at Cranfield University at Shrivenham.

Course delivery

By written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and oral exam

Individual project

The individual project takes four months from April to August.

You can select from a range of titles, or may propose your own topic. Most are practically or experimentally based using Cranfield’s unique facilities.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Introductory Studies

Module Leader
  • Peter Masters
    The aim of Introductory Studies is to prepare you for your subsequent programme of study on the assessed modules. It is optional and carries a formal credit rating of zero, although your understanding of the material covered may be tested as part of the assessments for the course modules. Students are strongly advised to participate in Introductory Studies.

    The emphasis in Introductory Studies is on fundamentals and subjects are covered at first-degree level. Topics include:

    • Chemistry,
    • MSc themes,
    • Computing services and library briefings,
    • Explosives awareness,
    • Study skills and research methods,
    • Maths, including Statistics,
    • Library resources and referencing,
    • Research ethics,
    • Healthy and safety.

Intended learning outcomes

Introductory Studies is designed to enable students to revise, consolidate and expand their skill and knowledge base so that they can derive maximum benefit from the course.

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Self-evaluate their educational needs and plan remedial action as required,
  • Manage their studies using a range of IT,
  • Prepare coursework without recourse to plagiarism by fully acknowledging the contribution made by the work or ideas of others,
  • Work in accordance to University Health and Safety policy.


Investigation and Evidence Collection

Module Leader
  • Dr Hannah Moore
    To understand the core responsibilities of evidence recording and collection at the crime scene, both in general, and specifically related to operational constraints of a UK investigative context. To understand the operation of forensic and police investigators within the context of a major investigation.
    • Role of the CSI,
    • Scene approach,
    • Volume and major crime scenes,
    • Recording the scene,
    • Photography of the crime scene,
    • Search and location of evidence,
    • Evidence recovery techniques,
    • Evidence integrity and contamination issues,
    • Evidence evaluation,
    • Exhibiting and packaging,
    • ISO 17020.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse various different strategies of volume and major scene investigation to consider the effects of different approaches.
  • Compare the range of evidence collection and investigation techniques available to the crime scene investigator.
  • Evaluate the relative merits of the range of systematic crime scene procedures vital to successful investigations.
  • Evaluate which of these procedures are appropriate to a particular crime scene and apply these procedures appropriately during a crime scene exercise.
  • Create a crime scene report which objectively critiques the methodologies used and draws justified conclusions appropriate for the evidence.


Reasoning for Forensic Science

Module Leader
  • Dr Trevor Ringrose
  • Dr Ken McNaught

    To provide an understanding and experience of the disciplines underpinning critical evaluation of quantitative information applied within the Forensic Sciences.

    • Experimental design
    • Interpretation and assessment
    • Effective framing & rebutting of arguments
    • Problem solving
    • Evidential types
    • Use of relevant statistics for design & interpretation
    • Courtroom statistics


    The syllabus will follow the general course of a generic investigative process from the appropriate framing of a question to the critical interpretation of data and information. The appropriate use of data in well-constructed arguments will be considered in order to distinguish between fact, opinion and speculation.  Intellectual rigour will be challenged, and the ability to identify weakness in argument will be developed. Data will be examined for reliability and reproducibility with a focus on the distinct features of forensically related data.  Appropriate use of descriptive and hypothesis testing statistics will be practiced and the ‘prosecutor’s fallacy’ explored. Bayes’ Theorem will be considered and rehearsed through case studies.  

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Recognise the fundamental features of effective experimental design,
  • Explain how confidence may be secured through effective reliability and reproducibility assessments,
  • Frame and defend an effective argument concerning quantitative information,
  • Apply appropriate statistics to forensic evidence for analysis and interpretation,
  • Explain the statistical processes to the layman,
  • Apply Bayes’ Theorem to forensic evidence.


Analytical Techniques

Module Leader
  • Dr Fiona Brock

    To provide an understanding of the principles and practical applications of the major analytical techniques used in materials based investigations.

    • X-ray diffraction (XRD).
    • X-ray fluorescence (XRF).
    • Electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-analysis.
    • Optical microscopy.
    • Spectroscopic methods: Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy.
    • Mass spectrometry (including ICP-MS).
    • Chromatographic and other separation methods: e.g. GC, GC-MS HPLC.
    • DNA analysis and forensic genomics.
    • Isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating.
    • X-radiography.
    • Hyperspectral imaging.
    • Proteomics.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Appraise the capabilities and limitations of a wide range of analytical techniques and apply them to the identification and characterisation of forensic and/or archaeological materials,
  • Interpret and evaluate the results of analysis using key laboratory techniques through comparison with other samples and reference material, with appropriate regard to experimental uncertainty.
  • Collate analytical results and compose a clear and concise written report while ensuring traceability of evidence.

Courtroom Skills

Module Leader
  • Roland Wessling
  • Dr Kate Hewins

    The module will provide an understanding of the role and responsibilities of expert witnesses in domestic and international criminal and civil cases and how they can present their evidence to the court effectively. You will also apply knowledge gained in previous modules to strengthen arguments presented in expert witness reports.

    • Role and legal responsibilities of the forensic expert,
    • Civil and criminal procedure rules,
    • Excellence in report and statement writing,
    • Presentation of evidence in court,
    • Preparation for examination-in-chief and cross-examination.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast between the various legal systems and the concepts of criminal prosecution and civil litigation,
  • Evaluate and compose in the role and with the responsibilities of an expert witness,
  • Construct, formulate and appraise an effective expert witness report in compliance to legal requirements for such a document,
  • Construct a case to present oral evidence in court effectively and respond successfully to cross-examination, with an insight into how cross-examination is prepared.

Forensic Archaeology: Recovering Buried Remains

Module Leader
  • Roland Wessling

    To introduce the role of the forensic archaeologist within the context of major crime investigation, specifically in the UK. The module aims to describe and discuss all aspects of this role, including project design, wide area search techniques, grave location techniques, excavation, evidence recognition and handling, grave and scatter scene interpretation and the production of specialist reports for court.

    • The development of Forensic Archaeology in both UK and international contexts,
    • Perpetrator behaviour,
    • Search and location,
    • Grave digging practical,
    • Principles of surveying,
    • Stratigraphy,
    • Scene documentation and recording,
    • Assessing soils,
    • Running a forensic excavation.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critically assess the development of forensic archaeology and its current application on UK and international crime scenes,
  • Critically assess the main techniques used in the location of buried objects and evaluate their usefulness in different terrains and against different target types,
  • Summarise key aspects of stratigraphy, soil characteristics/properties and their impact on both the archaeological record, context and the excavation techniques,
  • Critically assess the main techniques used in excavation, documentation and recovery of buried remains and evaluate their usefulness in different soil contexts,
  • Plan and implement the practical aspects of a forensic excavation and its documentation.

Forensic Archaeology: Mass Grave Excavation

Module Leader
  • Roland Wessling

    The module will introduce the principles of mass grave investigations; from finding and assessing sites, setting up and carrying out mass grave excavations to analysing and interpreting graves, victims and associated evidence.


    Day 1: Classroom based teaching

    Day 2: Site assessment and setup

    Day 3-6: Site excavation

    Day 7: Site closure and exercise debrief


    The seven days include:

    • Basic principles and structure of mass grave investigations,
    • Methodology of mass grave excavations,
    • Operational and logistical challenges in mass grave investigations,
    • Recovery of surface evidence at mass grave/mass killing sites,
    • Recovery of human remains in a mass grave context,
    • Recovery of buried evidence associated with human remains,
    • Documentation of human remains and associated evidence,
    • Surveying of evidence and site features,
    • Crime scene photography processes,
    • Evidence registry processes.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Revise their methodologies to a single or mass grave environment,
  • Judge the role of a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist within a forensic and criminal investigation team in a mass fatality investigation framework,
  • Collect and evaluate surface and buried evidence as well as human remains as part of a wider forensic investigation,
  • Assess non-material, forensic archaeological evidence in mass grave structures, such as tool marks,
  • Assess the site history in order to reconstruct the series of events that lead to the existence of the grave and the positioning of the victims and evidence.

Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology: Osteology

Module Leader
  • Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant
  • Dr Nivien Speith

    To provide a broad introduction to the subject, focusing on the role of the forensic anthropologist, human skeletal anatomy and the basic biological profile from human skeletal remains.


    Day 1: Introduction to human skeletal anatomy, biomechanics, and forensic anthropology.

    Day 2: Bone and tooth identification and taphonomy.

    Day 3: Human vs non-human bone.

    Day 4: Biological profile estimation (age-at-death, sex, stature, ancestry).

    Day 5: Analysis of a human skeleton.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the role of the forensic anthropologist,
  • Learn about the human skeleton,
  • Recognise, name and accurately describe the bones of the human skeleton,
  • Distinguish human from non-human bones,
  • Estimate the sex, age-at-death, stature and ancestry of a skeleton.

Further Forensic Anthropology: Identification

Module Leader
  • Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant
    To provide an understanding of how skeletal remains are positively identified. The course reviews the basic biological profile (age-at-death, sex, stature, ancestry) but adds further unique identifying features such as pathology and trauma. The course also provides information on cutting-edge research and the latest techniques.
    • Identification of the deceased,
    • The role of the forensic pathologist, odontologist and anthropologist in victim identification,
    • Review of the human skeletal anatomy and biological profile,
    • Latest techniques to identify bone,
    • Fire victims and cremated bone,
    • Dental pathology,
    • Overview of palaeopathology, infectious lesions, joint disease, metabolic and neoplastic disease,
    • Ante-mortem vs. peri-mortem vs. post-mortem trauma,
    • The use of imaging in forensic anthropology,
    • Radiocarbon dating, DNA and chemical analysis of bone,
    • Identifying sharp, blunt and gunshot trauma,
    • Mock spotter test.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the evidence that leads to a positive identification and the role of forensic anthropology in assisting in that identification,
  • Compare the role of the forensic pathologist and forensic odontologist,
  • Assess recent advances in the field and new techniques to help in identification,
  • Analyse pathological changes and conditions that can be observed on bones and teeth and categorise them,
  • Differentiate between ante-mortem, peri-mortem and post-mortem trauma,
  • Evaluate the features most commonly employed to differentiate between sharp, blunt and gunshot trauma.

Thesis Research Project

Module Leader
  • Professor Andrew Shortland
    To undertake an independent investigation relating to a specific area of the syllabus. This world normally be experimentally or practically-based but could also be based on a meta-analysis of existing data sets, data from existing archives such as public records or information collected from the internet.
    • Project planning,
    • Safety assessment,
    • Statistics,
    • Experimental design,
    • Library search techniques,
    • Web search techniques,
    • Technical writing.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Plan a research project, with aims, objectives, risk assessment and time line (Gantt chart),
  • Assess novel areas of research and optimise experimental solutions to forensic related problems, appraising a specific area of forensic science based on their knowledge and understanding of essential facts, concept, principles and theories,
  • Critically review key issues and evaluate and combine information from multiple sources (journals, internet, interview, court proceedings etc.), whilst being aware of the possibility of bias,
  • Evaluate the requirements of a specific test and design, construct appropriate experimental apparatus and critically evaluate the results of experimental work; especially in the light of other published work in that area should it be available,
  • Prepare a thesis or a paper plus literature review in a clear and concise fashion using appropriate presentation of data and present their project at an oral examination, justifying its relevance and the experimental procedures and present results.

Elective modules
One of the modules from the following list needs to be taken as part of this course

Trace Evidence

Module Leader
  • Laura Hugh
    To provide a scientific background to different trace evidence types and awareness of associated forensic identification and examination techniques.
    • Direct and indirect transfer of trace evidence,
    • Direct and indirect transfer of trace evidence,
    • Fibre and hair construction,
    • Microscopy for identification and comparison purposes,
    • Glass construction and forensic examination,
    • Paint characterization,
    • Toxicology,
    • Drugs analysis,
    • Alternative light sources for search purposes.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Plan and manage a systematic investigative search for trace evidence using appropriate detection and collection techniques, with consideration of the order of examinations,
  • Appraise and categorise different types of trace evidence by identifying and measuring their most important features, including awareness of relevant forensic databases for interpretation purposes,
  • Judge the importance of different types of trace evidence within forensic casework with reference to real-world scenarios,
  • Critically evaluate trace evidence transfer models,
  • Prepare a clear and concise written report on a trace evidence investigation.

Introduction to Firearms Investigations and Forensic Ballistics


    The module shall provide an introduction to the principles of forensic investigations involving firearms and forensic investigations of projectile ballistics.

    • Introduction into weapon functioning and performance,
    • Introduction into ammunition construction and materials,
    • Introduction into bullet and case matching,
    • Provide an overview of the 1968 Firearms Act (as amended),
    • Introduction to internal and external ballistics,
    • Introduction to gunshot residue analysis.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Assess and evaluate how small arms work and operate,
  • Evaluate the construction of small arms ammunition,
  • Assess the use of the different sections of the 1968 Firearms Act (as amended),
  • Compare and contrast the science underpinning internal and external ballistics,
  • Appraise the science behind bullet/case matching and gunshot residue analysis.

Practical Archaeological Excavation

Module Leader
  • Peter Masters

    To provide you with an understanding of the manner in which traditional archaeology uses field techniques to address practical research questions.


    • Planning an excavation,
    • Logistical practical and health and safety issues,
    • Practical excavation skills,
    • Man management and organisation skills,
    • Drawing, planning and recording an excavation,
    • Small finds,
    • The care of human remains,
    • Press, the public and other partners.


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Plan and manage an excavation,
  • Transfer theoretical knowledge of excavation techniques into practical use,
  • Organise a safe recovery and record rigorously material uncovered in the excavation,
  • Critically evaluate the most important features of an excavation and determine appropriate techniques,
  • Appraise results and convey results to externals both archaeological experts and lay members of the public.

Mass Fatality Incidents

Module Leader
  • Dr David Errickson

    This course provides an introduction to mass fatality incidents (MFI); their definition, categorisation, mitigation and management. It has a strong focus on disaster victim identification (DVI) but also covers more general effects, challenges, lessons learnt, management developments and, the return to normality following an MFI. In particular, the course considers the roles and responsibilities of the personnel involved in the DVI process, practical application of Interpol guidelines and DVI forms, planning and evaluation of temporary mortuary facilities and, DVI humanitarian assistance aspects of mass fatality incident response.

    The course may be of interest to a wide range of professionals including; emergency planners, emergency response personnel (police, fire and ambulance), family liaison officers, accident investigators, NGO workers, forensic scientists, medical doctors, lawyers, and those involved in the investigation of missing persons.

    • Introduction to mass fatality incidents (MFI); definitions, categorisations and history,
    • MFI mitigation, response planning and management,
    • Disaster victim identification (DVI) process and challenges,
    • Roles and responsibilities of DVI personnel,
    • Role of INTERPOL with respect to MFI,
    • Needs of the bereaved and humanitarian assistance,
    • Potential personal impact of MFI on responders,
    • Case study examples,
    • Lessons learnt and management developments,
    • UK and International perspectives,
    • Mock MFI scenarios,
    • Media involvement with, and impact on MFI.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate the key aspects of mass fatality incidents with respect to definitions, categorisations, mitigation and management.
  • Appraise previous mass fatality incidents to critically evaluate the challenges, lessons learnt, management, development of legislation, and the aftercare following a mass fatality incident.
  • Formulate an awareness of current best practice guidance for disaster victim identification (DVI), logistical and scientific challenges, and the roles and responsibilities of the personnel involved in the DVI process.
  • Compose and synthesise the needs of the bereaved, best practice for humanitarian assistance, and the potential impact of mass fatality incidents on responders.
  • Construct effective communications by application of reasoning and collaboration through participation in a range of mock MFI scenarios.


Forensic Ecology

Module Leader
  • Professor Tracey Temple

    The module will provide an understanding of the contribution of environmental evidence in a forensic investigation and how analytical sciences can help the investigation of crimes against the environment.

    • Introduction to environmental forensic science
    • Forensic palynology and botany
    • Forensic entomology
    • Forensic limnology (diatoms)
    • Forensic sedimentology, soil profiling and soil analysis
    • Taphonomic processes of decay
    • Environmental law, policy and compliance
    • Detection, prevention and prosecution of crimes against the environment
    • Detection and prevention of wildlife crime
    • Case studies in environmental crime.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Assess the value of environmental evidence in the investigation of crime,
  • Identify environmental legislation and examine its application to examples of environmental pollution,
  • Sample and analyse entomological evidence to give an estimation of post-mortem interval,
  • Analyse soil, pollen and diatom evidence for provenance,
  • Evaluate the use of soil, pollen and geological databases,
  • Demonstrate how analytical sciences can be used in the detection and investigation of crimes against the environment,
  • Identify pollutant linkage by using environmental forensic techniques.

Radiographic Investigations in Forensic Science

Module Leader
  • Dr Mark Viner

    To provide an understanding of the principles and practical applications of radiographic imaging techniques used in forensic science.

    • Physics of X-ray production and utilization,
    • Radiographic equipment and complimentary imaging modalities – computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound,
    • Analogue and digital image recording media,
    • Radiation protection and legislation,
    • Medical imaging techniques and their application in the forensic examination of human subjects; ballistic trauma, narcotics trafficking, abuse, assault, homicide,unexplained sudden death, human identification,
    • Virtopsy ® and the virtual post-mortem,
    • Radiographic techniques applied to art work and counterfeit objects,
    • Industrial radiographic techniques for engineering components including weapons, missiles and improvised explosive devices.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the fundamental principles of a wide range of imaging techniques,
  • Identify and assess appropriate radiation protection measures when employing radiographic imaging techniques according to current ionising radiation regulations,
  • Critically assess the advantages and disadvantages of different imaging techniques and their use in the individualisation of human remains and characterisation of trauma and/or disease states,
  • Critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of imaging techniques and their use in the identification and characterisation of components and component failure,
  • Practically implement appropriate imaging techniques for defined situations and interpret the results.

Hazardous Forensics

Module Leader
  • Dr Matthew Healy

    To present the fundamental principles of hazardous investigations including CBRN and to introduce techniques and working practices that promote risk management during a methodical investigation.

    • Introduction to hazardous investigations – principles and practices,
    • Recognising a CBRN incident,
    • Understanding hazardous scenes, sites, and situations (operational to strategic),
    • Management of hazardous scenes,
    • CBRN contamination as an evidence challenge,
    • Reporting on investigations,
    • Techniques and technologies for operating in hazardous environments.


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate hazards that might be present at a crime scene, including those associated with an improvised CBRN device,
  • Contextualize hazards by recognizing the scope and chronology of events that created them, and the drivers, responsibilities and challenges faced by parties involved in addressing them,
  • Forecast potential consequences and assess the likelihood of harm from various hazards, and incorporate reasonable mitigation measures into a justifiable hazard management plan,
  • Plan and execute a time-bounded recovery task, utilising critical thinking to prioritise items of greatest forensic value whilst considering their admissibility into evidence,
  • Create a crime scene report for a hazardous crime scene that objectively critiques the methodologies used on-scene and draws justified conclusions appropriate for the evidence recovered.




Forensic Exploitation and Intelligence

Module Leader
  • Stephen Johnson

    To provide an understanding of the principles and practical applications of the major forensic analytical techniques used in Forensic Intelligence (FORINT) and exploitation.

    • Role of intelligence processes and data management,
    • FORINT in Long term policing strategy,
    • Exploitation and Military Intelligence,
    • Pattern analysis, GIS and mathematics in forensic intelligence,
    • Technical exploitation,
    • Forensic exploitation,
    • Planning and direction of forensic intelligence,
    • Collection, processing, production, management and dissemination of FORINT,
    • Forms of output and report from FORINT.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Distinguish evidential types for use in court and for intelligence purposes,
  • Evaluate the levels and range of forensic exploitation techniques,
  • Manage and prioritise the exploitation of forensic intelligence derived from people, places and vehicles,
  • Critically assess how forensic intelligence interfaces with other intelligence sources,
  • Establish and maintain a FORINT exploitation policy within the frameworks of forensic best practice and the recognized intelligence cycle.

Trauma Weapon Effects

Module Leader
  • Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant
  • Dr Richard Critchley

    Understand the nature of different weapon types used in criminal activity. Evaluate the construction of improvised weapons and their wounding potential in real life scenarios.

    • Discuss and evaluate commonly used weapons by examining case studies,
    • Blunt Trauma and the biomechanics of tissue damage,
    • The effect of body armour on wounding potential of weapons,
    • Use and interpretation of wounding data,
    • Microscopy and micro CT analysis,
    • Practical use of stab/slash/blunt trauma rigs to examine the effect of a variety of weapons,
    • Use of tissue simulants,
    • Weapon identification from wounding patterns in historical cases.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse wounding patterns by individual weapons,
  • Assess trauma patterns in soft tissue and bone,
  • Evaluate the construction of improvised weapons used in criminal activity,
  • Identify and discuss the suitability of tissue simulants,
  • Identify weapon type by wounding patterns.

Fundamentals of Fire Investigation


    Understand the nature of fire, its basic principles, and the application of fire investigation in the criminal and civil judicial process. Appreciate the application of fire investigation skills in real world applications and investigations.

    • The basic principles of fire chemistry,
    • Principles of Fire investigation,
    • Photography of fire scenes/dark environments and associated techniques,
    • Ignition sources and their viability,
    • Case studies,
    • Basic crime scene packaging, evidential continuity and recovery of fire scene samples,
    • Basic fire scene debris analysis,
    • The effects of fire on common household items,
    • Practical fire scene investigation and origin and cause determination.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Evaluate the principals of fire,
  • Assess the area of origin and cause of a fire,
  • Examine and analyse fire spread and fire damage patterns,
  • Assess the scientific principals and bias within fire investigation,
  • Evaluate a basic practical fire investigation including photography, packaging, excavation and note taking.

Digital Scene Forensics

Module Leader
  • Dr Graeme Horsman

    This module considers the development and growing importance of digital evidence encountered on the crime scene. It looks in detail at a breadth of digital evidence hosts, including carried and worn devices, ‘the internet of things’ in the home and workspace, mobile location devices and digital CCTV. It considers how such things have altered the balance between novel and traditional forensic examination strategies.

    The series of workshops grouped under Operation Yellow Caiman give participants the opportunity to engage directly with a range of these technologies and understand first hand the nature of the data derived from them.

    • The nature of digital evidence sources on the crime scene,
    • Adaptation of the forensic strategy to integrate digital scene evidence,
    • Vehicle telematics,
    • Cloud-based data storage,
    • The internet of things,
    • Digital devices and rules of disclosure,
    • Mobile phone location,
    • Wearable technology,
    • Case studies.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the application of an understanding of the breadth of sources of digital evidence and intelligence at the crime scene, and critically assess the value of resulting data,
  • Critically appraise the nature and form of data derived from scene-based sources of digital evidence,
  • Create and adapt a forensic strategy for a major crime scene that can successfully balance novel digital and traditional evidence types, minimising the risk of contamination of either.




Module Leader
  • Laura Hugh
    The aim of this module is to provide a broad introduction to DNA as evidence, its forensic examination and interpretation.
    • DNA - structure and function,
    • Awareness of different sources of DNA (crime scene, references and elimination samples),
    • Direct and indirect DNA transfer,
    • Stages of DNA profiling,
    • Modern DNA profiling methods, including DNA 17 and DNA 24,
    • Alternative DNA profiling methods, e.g., Mitochondria DNA analysis and Y-STRs,
    • Next generation forensic DNA analysis,
    • Familial DNA,
    • Evaluation of DNA evidence – statistical and non-statistical.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the role of DNA as genetic material.
  • Evaluate the role of DNA evidence within the criminal justice system.
  • Appraise a broad range of current DNA technologies used within industry.
  • Interpret modern DNA profiles and assess DNA profile reporting styles.
  • Distinguish and apply model approaches to the evaluation of DNA evidence within Bayesian frameworks.


Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Module Leader
  • Laura Hugh
    This module appraises the investigative approaches and evaluation of expert interpretation within the forensic discipline of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis.
    • Bloodstain definitions,
    • Types of bloodstain patterns,
    • Formation of a blood droplet,
    • Force and surface effects on bloodstain formation,
    • Bloodstain pattern analysis as an investigative tool,
    • Evaluation of bloodstain patterns within Bayesian frameworks,
    • Recording of bloodstain details in a report,
    • Detection methods of marks in blood,
    • Research within this field of forensic science.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Categorise different types of bloodstain patterns,
  • Critically appraise the discipline of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis as a tool that supports the investigator,
  • Interpret bloodstain patterns within Bayesian frameworks of understanding,
  • Critically evaluate the variables that affect the formation of blood droplets and the effects of surface features on the formation of bloodstains,
  • Synthesize a clear and concise technical report.

Temporary Mortuary Operations

Module Leader
  • Roland Wessling
  • Dr Mark Viner
    The aim of the module is to introduce students to the principles of setting up and running a temporary mortuary, enable them to apply those principles in simulation exercises and allow them to learn and progress through reviewing their decisions/actions and discussing and critiquing their pros and cons. Furthermore, students will learn how to present their findings in a formal, legal setting as well as understanding the emotive and sensitive nature of victim identification work.
    • Introduction temporary mortuary setup and operations principles,
    • Documentation of temporary mortuary operations,
    • Setting up a temporary mortuary,
    • Understanding the workflows of a temporary mortuary operation,
    • Operating a temporary mortuary,
    • Collating data from temporary mortuary operations,
    • Preparing data collated for an Identification Commission,
    • Judging how to responsibly advise the ID Commission,
    • Presenting victim identification data formally in a legal setting.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critically assess the principles of temporary mortuary setup & operation.
  • Select the best mortuary workflow processes after evaluating the impact of the physical space and equipment available,
  • Judge the efficiency of the mortuary workflows and apply changes to further improve efficiency,
  • Develop the expertise to set up and ru8n a temporary mortuary in any given environment or context,
  • Develop the ability to present sensitive victim identification data in the legal and formal setting of an Identification Commission.

Forensic Imaging

Module Leader
  • Roland Wessling
    The aim of the module is to introduce students to different types of imaging techniques, enable them to apply those techniques in coordinated exercises and allow them to learn and progress through reviewing their images and discussing and critiquing their pros and cons. Furthermore, students will learn how to use images to their best extent in reporting, enabling them to create not only coursework for this module but also to improve any future report or document through imaging.
    • Introduction to photographic principles,
    • Documentation of imaging operations,
    • Application of basic photographic principles,
    • Understanding creative photography,
    • Forensic photography of a basic crime scene,
    • Forensic photography of an advanced crime scene,
    • Forensic photography of a night-time crime scene,
    • Creating and analysing 3d, photogrammetry models,
    • Microscopic imaging,
    • Radiographic imaging,
    • Use of images in reports and other documentation,
    • Group presentations of selected imaging aspects.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critically assess the best imaging technique for any situation that needs documenting,
  • Select the best equipment settings and image composition after evaluating a scene to be documented, the purpose and intend of the image and the conditions in which to record the scene,
  • Judge how a scene needs to be documented, what images need to be taken and what they can achieve in final reporting,
  • Develop imaging abilities in future through critiquing images taken and learn from positives and negatives,
  • Improve future reports and other documents by using images to their best effect and full potential.

Field Methods in Heritage Crime Investigation

    To collaborate to practically apply learning from the Investigating Threats to Cultural Heritage module and formulate strategies to conduct successful operations in realistic scenarios.

    Indicative module content: 

    • This is a “wargame” or exercise environment in which students take the role of one of the key people advising and commenting on an operation,
    • It draws heavily on the content of the Investigating Threats to Cultural Heritage module, but teaches and examines other skills including:
    • Operational planning,
    • Rapid responses to changing intelligence,
    • Teamwork and individual leadership,
    • How to conduct briefings, respond and critically assess briefings from others.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Appraise roles within a heritage crime operation,
  • Critically assess priorities for action, select appropriate courses and appraising their success,
  • Create briefs for senior officials,
  • Assess and predict, react to changing circumstances and judge new intelligence leads,
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the overall strategy in the exercise.

International Crimes Against Cultural Heritage

    To Investigate international heritage crime, and critique both the activities of the main players and their methods of attack and defence.

    Indicative module content: 

    • Introduction to international heritage crime,
    • Specific legal ordinances of relevance, e.g. Hague convention,
    • Culture in conflict areas,
    • Heritage assets during warfare,
    • Deliberate destruction of sites,
    • Cultural heritage as a terrorist weapon,
    • Looting,
    • Trafficking of illicit antiquities,
    • Auction houses, dealers and collectors,
    • Ethics of collecting.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Compare the main threats to International heritage; 
  • Appraise the dangers of the destruction and trafficking of heritage across borders and the international bodies and laws designed to prevent this;
  • Critically assess research on international heritage crime and create new methods for combating the threat; 
  • Evaluate how forensic strategies are applied and needed in this field critique their effectiveness; 
  • Be able to apply, summarise and evaluate their knowledge in writing a report about a specific case.


The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences logo

The MSc of this course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Your career

Prepares you to work in the field of forensic archaeology or anthropology within forensic laboratories, police departments, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, museums, commercial archaeological companies and universities. It is also a necessary introduction that could lead into conducting research at PhD level in the subject.

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button below to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.