Forensic science is a critical element of the criminal justice system. Forensic scientists examine and analyse evidence from crime scenes and elsewhere to develop objective findings that can assist in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crime or absolve an innocent person from suspicion.

“Physical evidence cannot be intimidated. It does not forget. It sits there and waits to be detected, preserved, evaluated and explained”

Herbert Leon MacDonnell

Entry requirements

Alongside the general entry requirements to Sixth Form, students must have a grade 6 in Separate science or Combined science), and a 6 in Maths GCSE

Course description

The acknowledged number of guided learning hours for this qualification is 720, it is equivalent to 2 A Levels. BTEC Applied Science must be chosen along with this course to access the full complement of eight units

  1. Principles and applications of Science I* – Learners will develop an understanding of key concepts relating to biology, chemistry and physics. Written examination.
  2. Practical scientific procedures and techniques* – Learners are introduced to new experimental techniques, reinforcing methods met previously and developing practical skills including accuracy and precision. Learners will research the background to a number of analytical and experimental techniques in an applied or vocational context. Internally assessed.
  3. Science investigation skills* – Learners are set a two-part task, where they have to complete an experiment under timed conditions, and then complete a written task based upon their findings. The task aims to test the student’s ability to plan, record, process, analyse and evaluate scientific findings. Written examination.
  4. Forensic Investigation Procedures in Practice – Learners develop techniques in collecting, analysing and reporting chemical, physical and biological evidence during forensic investigations. Learners will investigate a simulated crime scene and demonstrate appropriate forensic procedures in collecting and packaging forensic evidence. Internally assessed.
  5. Applications of Criminology – Criminology is the study of crime and criminal behaviour, drawing on psychology, sociology, law, and other disciplines to explain the causes and prevention of crime. Learners will study how different aspects of criminology help us to understand the reasons why some people may commit crimes and the various methods of crime prevention in England and Wales. Written examination.
  6. Criminal Investigation Procedures in Practice – Learners will develop an understanding of the Criminal Justice System (CJS), including the police and courts. They will cover the legal framework that criminal investigators must work to in order to protect individual rights, as well as the adversarial system where prosecution and defence set out evidence in court to determine guilt or innocence. Learners develop communication skills and experience while giving evidence in a mock trial. Internally assessed.
  7. Physiology of Human Body Systems* – The human body is a complex mix of organs and organ systems. Knowledge of how they function to maintain human life is an essential part of the study of human physiology. In this unit, you will focus on three body systems: musculoskeletal, lymphatic and digestive. You will examine each of the systems as a functioning unit, identifying their structure and function. By exploring the anatomy of these systems, through experimentation and use of simulations, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of their role in the human body. Internally assessed.
  8. Practical Chemical Analysis – Chemical analysis has many applications in forensic science; chemical analysis of body fluids is critical for identification of drugs and poisons within a body, identifying unknown substances at a crime scene (explosives, accelerants etc.) Learners will gain understanding of analytical techniques including quantitative analysis, spectroscopy, chromatography and industrial quality assurance procedures. Internally assessed.

*Applied Science units

Exam board

Pearson BTEC National Diploma in Forensic and Criminal Investigation – Level 3


8 units of which 5 are internal and 3 are external. External assessment (46%).