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Applied Science (Forensic Science) Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Scientists use the same skills on a daily basis to attempt to solve current issues. This course is designed to give you a detailed understanding of aspects of Science with an emphasis on the skills and knowledge used in the field of forensic science. Over the two years of study you will develop the scientific knowledge and practical and problem solving skills to enable you to progress into employment or onto a range of Higher Education courses.  You will study a range of core scientific units and specialist units with a particular emphasis on the knowledge, skills and techniques used in the vast field of forensic science.  Throughout the course you will develop your scientific understanding and practical skills through a series of assignments and challenging investigations which utilise some of the techniques used by crime scene investigators and forensic scientists in the workplace including collecting evidence from crime scenes and analysis of evidence through chemical spectroscopy, fingerprint analysis, chemical and biological testing. 

During your course you will complete a project on an area of science where you have to plan an investigation and conduct an experiment you have designed.

You will start by completing a Foundation Diploma in Applied Science (equivalent to 1.5 A levels) in your first year. The first year will enhance your understanding of the key chemical and biological topics required for further study of forensic science. You will relate your practical science activities to the relevant theory and develop your skills in laboratory experimentation, analysis of results and evaluation of methods – key skills for any working scientist. You will build up a portfolio of practical techniques and use your knowledge and understanding to complete a series of assignments on which you will be assessed. You will complete the Extended Diploma in year 2 (equivalent to 3 A levels) where your focus will be on units covering aspects of Forensic Science including crime scene investigation using forensic evidence, collection and analysis techniques and forensic fire investigation.

Course content

The course aims to give you a varied learning experience and will be a combination of a student centred approach to learning, involving research for assignments, visits, guest speakers, lectures, group work and discussions.

An experienced team of lecturers, many of whom have worked in scientific industries and forensic sciences will support your learning. You will need to be prepared to work hard independently, carry out in-depth research and use a variety of information sources.

You will study a range of core and specialist units over the two years of the course. The specialist units have been carefully selected to keep your options for further study as broad as possible whilst giving you specialist knowledge of key areas.

The course is split into two years, each year being equivalent to 1.5 A levels. At the end of the two year course you will receive a qualification which is equivalent to 3 A levels. Successful completion of Year 1 will enable you to progress onto year 2

Year 1: Foundation Diploma in Applied Science

The emphasis of year 1 is to provide you with the knowledge and skills to be able to apply what you learn to forensic science situations. To enable you to achieve the Foundation Diploma you will study core and specialist units covering some of the following themes: Principles and Applications of Science, Practical Scientific Procedures and Techniques, Investigative Project, Scientific Investigative Skills, Physiology of Human Body Systems, Biochemical Techniques and Applications of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry. Successful completion of Year 1 will enable you to progress onto year 2.

Year 2: Extended Diploma in Applied Science (Forensic Science)

Year 2 will enable you to see how science is used in a forensic context and to relate your studies in year 1 to the field of forensic science. Again, you will study a mixture of core and specialist units covering some of the following themes: Forensic Evidence Collection, Forensic Fire Investigation, Contemporary Issues in Science, Genetics and Genetic Engineering and Practical Chemical Analysis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of four GCSEs or equivalent at grade C or above in appropriate subjects is required preferably including Maths, English and Science.

Please note that GCSE Grade C or above in English or Maths is an entry requirement for this course.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods.
Assessment is by a combination of assignments and controlled assessments. Assignments are internally set by the team and externally moderated by Pearson (Edexcel). There will be an examination for one unit (approx. 18% of final grade) and a controlled assessment, which are both externally set and marked. Assignments are graded at pass, merit and distinction level and may take any of the following formats: written practical reports, portfolios of work, presentations, written research assignments and individual practical investigations

There is a strong emphasis on the acquisition of skills that will prepare you to study at university or enter employment. The grades awarded are given points and are converted into a final grade at the end of the course which will range from a Pass, Pass, Pass (PPP) to Distinction*, Distinction*, Distinction* (D*D*D*). This grade will be converted into UCAS points at the end of the course. Typical university offers require final grades of Distinction, Merit, Merit (DMM) and above.

Future opportunities

Scientific skills are always in demand in the workplace and a wide range of careers are possible including analytical laboratory work, forensic laboratory work and scenes of crime work. The course can also lead to a variety of science based courses at Higher Education including Chemical and Biological Sciences, Criminology and Forensic Science.

Further information

We encourage all students to read widely and conduct their own research into the topics they are studying. You will be expected to undertake at least 12 hours of independent study time per week. There is a wide range of support material available in the Learning Resource Centres and on the course Moodle site.  You will also regularly review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor. Throughout the year you will be able to access additional support through drop-in sessions, dedicated revision workshops, tailored 1-to-1 provision, as well as a variety of additional opportunities to stretch and challenge the most able students. We encourage you to proactively engage with the support available in order to reach your full potential.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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