Skip to main content

MSc Forensic Toxicology by Research

MSc Forensic Toxicology by Research video
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

Toxicology, the study of drugs and poisons, is an expanding area of study that offers graduates a wide range of career options. On this course you'll study the signs and symptoms associated with the use of common drugs and poisons, basic pharmacology, mechanisms of drug/poison action, drug metabolism and drug elimination from the body. In addition to the more traditional areas of forensic toxicology, the course will introduce you to aspects of environmental forensic science where toxicology may be involved.

The course is delivered by experienced forensic toxicologists and forensic practitioners with an emphasis on professional capabilities. Wherever possible the study will be case lead. Our objective is to provide excellent, theoretically informed, science-based learning as well as research skills.

Hear from Gina Ross, a current student, referring to the course leader, Professor David Ossleton: "Thank you for everything you have done this year (as well as inspiring me to take toxicology when I was an undergraduate here). You have exceeded my expectations and helped me to improve not just my toxicological skills but my confidence in myself. I am so glad that I took the MSc and I look forward to seeing you in the future."

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time

Relevant subjects:

Biochemistry, chemistry, life/medical or sciences

Required subjects:

Forensic science, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, biochemistry or biomedical sciences

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent in any discipline that includes an element of science or relevant comprehensive professional experience. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information see our full entry requirements

Course content

Semester 1

Core units

  • Forensic Science: Become trained in expert witness and courtroom skills, legal and practical aspects of evidence and gain an understanding of pre-trial duties, courtroom procedures, lawyers’ requirements, and the preparation and structure of the expert witness’ report. This unit will be delivered through a combination of lectures, training in court room skills and practical exercises involving simulated forensic investigations. This unit is shared with students on similar courses, and the simulations are tailored to each degree. So for example toxicologists will comment on a scenario of alcohol and drug abuse, archaeologists will excavate a simulated murder case and anthropologists undertake the only simulated mass grave exercise currently offered as part of a UK Masters programme. 

  • Forensic Toxicology: A comprehensive overview of forensic toxicology, providing you with knowledge and understanding of the complex issues involved with analysing drugs and poisons in human tissue and the ways they affect the human body. You'll study how poisons enter the body, are metabolised and eliminated, the types of samples used in forensic toxicology and consider their importance to different case types, sample collection methods and preservation. You'll also study the range of analytical methods used for detecting drugs and poisons and the factors affecting the interpretation of analytical results.

  • Laboratory and Research Skills: An introduction to a range of academic skills essential for becoming a successful researcher in the modern research environment. You'll learn transferable skills in designing a research project, developing the right methodology, writing a research proposal, collecting and analysing data and presenting your work at conferences and in scientific journals.

Semester 2

Core units

  • Extended Research Project: Undertake a more extended and involved piece of research, leading to a publishable research paper.  The extended research project will allow you to develop research methodologies, data collection and interpretation.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Forensic Toxicology by Research.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For Forensic Toxicology by Research we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have a keen interest in toxicology
  • Are keen to actively learn through laboratory and case oriented problem solving
  • Are keen to apply the skills they gain from the course to real working environments in analytical and interpretative toxicology e.g. forensic and clinical toxicology
  • Can demonstrate an ability to think around complex problems
  • Can demonstrate an academic interest and ability in sciences relevant to toxicology by having suitable science qualifications.

We are looking for students who are keen to develop their intellectual skills by gaining a sound scientific understanding of forensic and analytical toxicology. We particularly encourage applications from people who have an enthusiasm for developing practical laboratory and research skills such as knowledge of extraction techniques, HPLC, GC/MS etc. that are considered to be key attributes by many employers. Students on this degree course will typically have a wide range of interests and have strong science backgrounds.

Selection methods

Selection is based on paper application and references - applicants are not normally required to attend for interview. Visits to the department to speak to tutors and postgraduate students engaged with the course can be arranged, usually via University Open Days.

For more information, take a look at our post graduate how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • Possession of a 2:1 degree or equivalent in either forensic science, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, biochemistry or biomedical sciences.
  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


Upon completion of this course, you will possess the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary to continue into an academic career or secure employment in a career in forensics. The emphasis on core practical skills will give you extra marketability in the professional arena, providing you with a route into a successful and rewarding career.

As a Forensic Toxicology by Research graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as:

  • Forensic toxicologist
  • Clinical chemist
  • Lecturer
  • Academic researcher.

Industries worked in

  • Forensic toxicology
  • Law enforcement
  • Education
  • Academic research.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Additional information

Your career and development

Your career and development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

International students

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.