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University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400
Email: cenquiries@uclan.ac.uk

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    Full-time: One year, Part-time: Two years.

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Why study this programme?

The MSc DNA Profiling is a Forensic Science Society UK (FSSoc) accredited course that aims to instruct in current concepts in molecular biology techniques and laboratory management as applied in the field of Forensic DNA Profiling. The various interpretational skills taught in the course follow International Society of Forensic Genetics (ISFG) and SWGDAM guidelines. The course syllabus exceeds the recommendation of the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) USA for the educational requirements for a DNA laboratory technical leader. Intellectually challenging and highly rewarding, the MSc provides excellent hands-on practical learning in various laboratory techniques. It also builds the capabilities to plan and execute a research project. You’ll be well prepared for the forensic DNA profiling sector, including relevant areas like molecular biology, genetics and population genetics.  

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Entry Requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course are a 2.2 degree in a related field or equivalent professional experience in the discipline.

We welcome applications from international students to our course. Further information on how to apply if you are an overseas applicant is available. A general guide to the minimum levels of English language requirements for our courses is also available.

Programme at a Glance

Semester 1

  • FZ4201- Forensic Genetics I (20 Credits)
  • FZ4202-Forensic Genetics II (20 Credits)
  • FZ4001 - Research Methods (20 Credits)

Semester 2

  • FZ4004 - Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance (20 Credits)
  • FZ4203 - Evaluation of Genetic Data (20 Credits)
  • FZ4002 - The Expert Witness in the Legal Process (20 Credits)

Semester 3

  • FZ4003 - Research Project (60 Credits)

Further Information

The MSc was established in 2003 and reflects the research, current practices, and developments within the forensic DNA profiling sector. The students have access to a state of the art molecular biology facility which is equipped with most modern genetic analysers, PCR and Real Time PCR machines and next generation sequencers. The equipment and software’s used during the course has been chosen carefully to reflect a forensic DNA laboratory. The students also have access to a field taphonomic research facility for relevant outdoor experimentation and a moot court. Our staff includes experienced practitioners who are well known in the field of forensic DNA profiling nationally and internationally. Since we have an active research team with over 16 PhD students, the research environment is a great stimulant during the whole course but especially during the research projects. We have active links with the commercial market leaders within the field.

The MSc consists of 180 course credits and is split into two phases:

  • Taught Phase September – May comprising of 6 modules (120 Credits; All modules 20 Credits each)
  • Research Project June - August equivalent to 3 modules (60 Credits)
Taught Phase

The taught phase is comprises of lectures, tutorials/workshops and taught practical experiments that introduce the students to biochemical and molecular biology techniques in the context of forensic DNA laboratory workflow. Hands on training on various important software’s is provided during the course for data analyses. Usually the teaching and learning activities are organised on three days of a given week and enough time is provided for the students to self-study or do additional laboratory work if they required to. The teaching and learning activities aim to develop analytical and reasoning skills as well as learning to plan and practically process forensic casework.

Research Project

For the research project students are presented with various projects. They can choose the project though they are also encouraged to develop their own projects for which guidance is provided. We do allow the practitioners attending the course to complete the project in their own laboratories. In addition some project are arranged with commercial forensic science providers (FSP) laboratories. The project requires the students to attend a weekly laboratory meeting in which the projects are discussed in a professional manner. These laboratory meetings allow the students to develop further and enhance their research capabilities. During the execution of the project continuous supervision is provided.

Course Content

Below are a few examples of project titles from previous years (most of these were published as journal articles or presented in International conferences):

  • Development of a novel method for sequencing the complete human mitochondrial genome through next generation sequencing
  • A population genetics study of UAE population using Globalfiler® human identification kit
  • Simulations of a disaster victim identification affecting isolated population
  • The development and validation of an allelic frequency database for Qatari population using
  • Rapidly Mutating Y STRs
  • Development and validation of an allelic frequency database for a Middle Eastern population using
  • Powerplex® Fusion
  • Assessment of PCR efficiency using different enzymes
  • Persistence of DNA on glass exposed to varying environmental conditions
  • The persistence of DNA within washed clothing fabrics

Assessment of the research project is based on:

  • Laboratory note book and supervisor’s assessment (20%)
  • A written report on the research project (80%)

Students submit the project report usually in the first week of September.

The course is structured into three parts :

Part 1 (14 weeks):

Forensic Genetics I: Introduces you to the principles, methods and techniques of molecular biology and genetics that are relevant to current DNA profiling within a forensic context.

Forensic Genetics II: The module trains you in current DNA profiling procedures, techniques and analysis/interpretation. You will study the above within the wider context and investigate potential developments in this area. You will be working with modern PCR machines, Real-Time PCR Machines and Genetic Analysers. You will develop a critical understanding of the procedures involved in DNA profiling through the analysis of mock cases.

Research Methods: The module trains you in a wide range of skills including technical documentation, project design and management, data retrieval/analysis, technical writing and presentation.

Part 2 (14 weeks):

Evaluation of Genetic Data: Covers the principles of population genetics and the mathematical and statistical methods underpinning population genetic theory. The module centres on the statistical analysis and interpretation of genetic data, and on the evolutionary and population genetics that influence the frequencies of various types of DNA markers. You are trained on various standard software’s to analyse the genetic data.

Expert Witness in Legal Process: This module introduces the student to the basics skills of an expert scientific witness. It is designed to provide an in-depth knowledge of the relevant law and procedure that applies to the expert witness in domestic and international legal proceedings, court procedure and the duty of the expert witness in legal proceedings. You also learn the practical skills required to present evidence in both written format and orally in court. Training is provided in the preparation of complex expert reports. The module covers communication skills providing background and training in expert witness delivery, and the study of British and International Law. You present your findings of a casework in a moot court.

Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance: In this module you work in a small group and develop protocols and quality assurance procedures for a Forensic DNA laboratory. The module gives you the opportunity to work as a team of forensic DNA analysts setting up and validating your own laboratory procedures and process simulated casework.

Part 3 (16 weeks):

Research Project: In the research project, you will undertake a laboratory based research project which will allow you to investigate a current aspect of DNA profiling that interests you. You are allowed to choose a project or develop your own. You will utilise and develop many of the skills learnt on the course to design the experiments and will carry them out independently under the guidance of an assigned supervisor. Following conclusion of the work, you are required to produce a project dissertation. The project can be entirely based within the University or in an approved collaborating institution. You are encouraged to publish or present your project in a national or international conferences.



Susan Walsh

Susan Walsh Headshot 

Assistant Professor Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, USA

After completing my BSc. Biochemistry degree in Cork, Ireland, I was searching for an MSc program. Forensics had always been an interest and more specifically DNA analysis. I applied for the MSc DNA Profiling program at UCLAN and to this day I am so very glad I did. The grounding and training that I was given in this intense 1 year program provided me with the necessary skills to quickly obtain a research assistant job in Australia in a sequencing facility.

However, the appeal of more research made me further my education in the field of forensic DNA phenotyping for which the bulk of my laboratories research focuses on right now. I still remember giving a presentation on 'up and coming research/technologies’ where I focused on eye colour prediction from DNA in Dr. Hadi’s class. The idea of human physical appearance prediction from DNA fascinated me. Little did I know back then, that the research I had done preparing for that presentation would stick with me for years, spurring me to obtain my PhD in this area. The MSc. in DNA Profiling program was one of the first stepping stones of my rewarding career in forensic genetics research, and I am so grateful to the staff at UCLan for opening that door for my inquisitive mind.

Bram Bekaert

Bram Baekert Headshot 

Assistant Professor and Technical Director Forensic DNA Laboratory, University of Leuven

It’s pretty simple actually: I would not have been a technical director of a forensics DNA laboratory and an assistant professor at the University of Leuven if the MSc in DNA Profiling at UCLAN wasn’t as good as it is. This course properly prepares you for the real life as a forensic geneticist through high quality and in-depth lectures, challenging projects and the best placements available on the market.

All of this is provided for by the special ingredients of this course: the eternally enthusiastic lecturers with an immense passion for all things forensic. Bearing witness to this are the collaborations and co-publications we still have with the UCLAN forensics lab 11 years after graduating. And if you wonder whether I think that forensic genetics is the next best thing since sliced bread: I can absolutely guarantee it is!

David Jackson

David Jackson Headshot 

Criminalist III, Forensic Biology / DNA Unit Supervisor Criminalistics Laboratory, San Francisco Police Department

The DNA Profiling MSc Course at UCLAN has proven to be a solid and reliable foundation for my career in Forensic Biology & DNA Analysis. I have worked on hundreds of cases and testified to DNA evidence in many jury trials within the USA.

I reflect that the knowledge and experience gained during my time studying at UCLAN has given me the confidence and credibility to make an effective contribution to the justice system and all those affected by it daily. I highly commend the teaching staff, up-to-date facilities, and superb course content to anyone seeking a career in the forensic sciences, you won't be disappointed!

Gianluca Peri

Gianluca Peri picture 

Forensic DNA Analyst at Boise State University, USA

The MSc DNA Profiling course at UCLan has been the very best experience in my academic path. The lectures were focused on the most up-to-date topics and techniques of forensic genetics, giving a great boost in this fascinating sector.

The professors were very committed to the development of the students as single individuals, making sure that each one of them was fully prepared for working in the real forensic world. I was given the opportunity to work on an excellent project in next generation sequencing which was a great experience for me. The course was thoroughly fulfilled my academic goals and helped me quickly get a job within the sector.

How to Apply

Our Postgraduate section has more information around applying including visiting UCLan and the support available.

If you want to continue and apply now, you can apply for many of the postgraduate UCLan courses using our Online Application System.

For other postgraduate courses you can apply directly to UCLan by downloading a Postgraduate Application Form (.pdf 190KB) please also see our Postgraduate Application Guidance Notes (.pdf 158KB).


For detailed information about studying this course at UCLan, please see the course handbook for your year of entry:

For information on possible changes to course information, see our Important Information.


Apply now or see further information about postgraduate study and research. International students should visit our international pages.

Contact Us

Tel: +44 (0)1772 892400

Email: cenquiries@uclan.ac.uk

Fees 2020/21

Full-time: £6,900 per year (UK/EU)
Part-time: £765 per 20 credits (UK/EU)

Further information:

For 2019/20 fees please refer to our fees page.

UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme

If you're thinking of studying a master's or doctoral degree you could be eligible for a loan from the Government to help you study.

For additional help with financing your studies, UCLan offers a range of Postgraduate scholarships, studentships, bursaries and the Alumni loyalty discount.

View further information

Case Studies

Industry Links

Lancashire Forensic Science Academy

Lancashire Forensic Science Academy logo

Lancashire Constabulary and UCLan School of Forensic and Applied Sciences have joined forces to create the Lancashire Forensic Science Academy.

In the first collaboration of its kind, CSIs, forensic science experts, academics and students will work alongside each other in purpose-built facilities to research, investigate and deliver forensic science services in Lancashire.

This ground-breaking partnership gives students access to an operational environment.


We have a wide variety of links with local, national and international laboratories and academic institutions, all of which provide valuable contacts for students wishing to enter professions related to DNA profiling. Further details and contacts are available from members of the teaching team.

forensic genetics book

An interesting and informative book on forensic genetics written by the members of the course team which has been widely adapted and referenced. The book explains the key concepts and advancements in forensic genetics in detail. The book includes a chapter on non-human forensic genetics. This book has great reviews.

Professional Accreditation

Masters in DNA profiling has received the prestigious accreditation from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences logo

Learning Environment and Assessment

You will, on average, attend fifteen hours of lectures/seminars/practicals per week and may participate in both workshops and tutorials. Personal study also forms an integral part of the programme. The students are required to complete challenging assessments that are mostly course work, group projects, presentations, moot court and practical assessments. There is only one theory based examination in the course.

We do our best to give our students key employability and transferable skills which will serve them in the various scientific and non-scientific fields thus our students emerge as well rounded individuals.

Publications by students

Bekaert B, Zainuddin Z, Hadi S, Goodwin W. 2006. A comparison of mtDNA and Y chromosome diversity in Malay populations. International Congress Series, 1288: 252-255

Hadi S, Bekaert B, Goodwin W, The AMOVA analyses and phylogenetic relationships of Pakistani population using Y STRs. 2006. International Congress Series, 1288: 171-173

Almohammed E, Alghafri R, Goodwin W, Hadi S. 2015. Development and validation of an allelic frequency database for Qatari population using 13 rapidly mutating Y-STRs multiplex assay. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, 5: e365-e367

Alhmoudi OA, Jones RJ, Tay GK, Alsafar H, Hadi S. 2015. Population genetics data for 21 autosomal STR loci for United Arab Emirates (UAE) population using next generation multiplex STR kit, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 19: 190-191.

Abuidrees, A. S., Alghafri, R. H. and Hadi, S. (2016). Rapid amplification of the RM-Yplex assay. Electrophoresis. doi:10.1002/elps.201500549


Dr. Sibte Hadi - Course Leader

Hadi is a reader, an active researcher and academician in Forensic Medicine & Genetics. He has co-authored an undergraduate text book ‘An Introduction to Forensic Genetics’ and several book chapters. He has published widely in various forensic journals and is a reviewer for several of them.

Read Sibte's Staff Q&A

Dr. William Goodwin

Will is a well-known researcher in the field of forensic genetics and has published over 50 papers. He has authored the undergraduate text book An Introduction to Forensic Genetics’ and edited ‘Forensic DNA Typing Protocols (Second Edition); he is also a current Editor for ‘Science and Justice’, which is the journal of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, UK.

Dr. Judith Smith

Judith is an active researcher with interests in areas of forensic entomology, wildlife forensics, conservation genetics and molecular ecology. She has ongoing projects investigating insect development and species identification, the analysis of ancient sheep, environmental DNA analysis and forensic microbiomics.

Sue Carney

Sue is a consultant forensic biologist and professional member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. Her specialisms include body fluid testing, DNA interpretation, blood pattern analysis, fabric damage assessment, Bayesian forensic interpretation and the application of quality standards.