Why study Forensic Science? Undergraduates tell all…

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Last week I decided to have a quick poll amongst my Forensic Science first year students. The academic year is in full swing, the students are settling into life as undergraduates and I wanted to know why were they here? What had made them chose to study forensic science?


Why did I chose forensic science?

During my chemistry degree I got excited by analytical science. I had always read loads of crime fiction. I got inspired by a book my Dad gave me combining the two – ‘Science and Criminal Detection’ by John Broad. I got to meet John the next year when I signed up for the MSc Forensic Science course at King’s College London.

So what was behind this years undergraduates choice?

  • The mixture of science subjects. The students asked why choose between biology and chemistry? They enjoy both.
  • A family affair. Several students have parents and/or other relations in the Police. They wanted to do something related to, but not directly, policework. Maybe the CSI type role? During my studies at least one classmate had parents who were forensic scientists. I also haven’t strayed far from the footsteps of my father (same uni, same undergrad course, now same profession!).
  • Interesting Course. As well as the mix of chemistry and biology the students like the other aspects of the course: crime scene analysis; fire investigation; fingerprints; drugs; toxicology and so on. They also wanted an understanding of the law, which is included in the course.
  • Access and locality. This was bought up by a few students. Several wanted to stay within a certain radius of home. They wanted a course that ticked their boxes of: localityUCAS entry tariff and interest.
  • The CSI effect. The one you’ve all been expecting! I actually had to prod to see if anyone watched the CSI type shows. The students seemed reluctant to admit this at first. One by one they then shared their favourite – Dexter, Bones, Criminal Minds, Silent Witness…

Which bought us on the the final comments:

  • How to get away with it! To learn how to cover up a crime. I’m coining it ‘The Dexter Effect’. They were joking. I hope.

I also had the pleasure of showing a large number of prospective students at a recent Sheffield Hallam University Open Day. The future students and their parents all talked of similar motivation. The interesting and varied nature of the subject kept coming up.

So – what interests you about Forensic Science? Let me know, via twitter (@WeAreForensic), or leave a comment below.

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About Dr Tom Bassindale

Dr Tom Bassindale is a forensic scientist, and the founder of We Are Forensic. He is currently the subject lead for chemistry and forensic science at Sheffield Hallam University. He's managed hundreds of forensic toxicology cases, and is an experienced court witness. He has specialist expertise in forensic toxicology and drug testing in sport. And yes... he watches CSI.