Subject Focus: Forensic and environmental science programmes in Australia

Forensic students at Murdoch University.In this quarter's subject focus we look at some more of the science degrees available in Australia. There are many different areas of science, usually grouped into physical sciences; life sciences; social sciences; earth and space sciences and mathematical sciences. 

In Australia, a Bachelor of Science tends to offers a much more flexible programme than the equivalent degrees in the UK. The BSc is typically a broad-based qualification which will allow you to study a wide range of science subjects while at the same time working towards one specialising in one chosen area. When you enrol on one of these degrees you’ll select a ‘major’ (the subject you want to specialise and graduate in) but will also have the opportunity to study a number of different subjects during each year of your course. These are known as ‘electives’. This broad approach allows you to effectively construct a degree that is unique to you and your interests, and which is individually tailored to your future career goals. Although there are some specialist science degrees also available to undergraduates, including the Bachelor of Forensic Science featured below.

At postgraduate level, Master of Science programmes are available in many different areas of science. MSc courses can be studied entirely by coursework, but many offer the opportunity to undertake a research component or module. There are also extensive opportunities to undertake Masters by Research and PhD. The quality of scientific research produced by Australian institutions and the facilities provided for postgraduate students are just two of the reasons why postgraduate science has long been one of the areas Study Options receives most enquiries about.

The standard of science research and teaching in Australia compares very favourably with other world universities, you can find out more about the different ranking systems here.  Australia is also at the forefront of marine and environmental science study internationally, and often science programmes offer you amazing opportunities to access and study the natural environment, using Australia's incredible natural surroundings as living laboratories.

If you would like to find out more about the range of Science degrees available in Australia and New Zealand, contact a Study Options advisor for a course list.

Bachelor of Forensic Science/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Queensland

Make a difference in the lives of people impacted by crime

With this double degree combination, you will develop a broad understanding of how crime is managed in society, and learn to understand the motivations of crime and how to implement strategies to combat it. You'll learn to use research to identify social issues that lead to crime. You'll understand what makes criminals tick as well as how to circumvent negative impacts on society.

Science at Griffith has rated 5-stars for Educational Experience, Teaching Quality and Student Support by the Good Universities Guide 2018, a leading independent provider of high-quality education and career information.

At Griffith, criminology is a multidisciplinary field of study, drawing on psychology, law, sociology, politics and human services. Our undergraduate degree is the only one in Queensland backed by 'well above world standard' research. That knowledge feeds into the most up-to-date study content, giving you the best skills for an employment edge.

Forensic Science component

You will develop in-depth knowledge of new forensic analytical methods and practise presenting expert evidence in moot courts. You will develop in-depth knowledge of new forensic analysis methods and innovations, and gain valuable experience from real casework. You will learn from academic staff who continue to work on major cases in Australia and overseas and who regularly provide expert evidence in Australian courts. Our forensic science programmes are the only ones of their type offered in Queensland.

You will learn about handling criminal casework in forensic biology and forensic chemistry and have the option to select one of two forensic science majors:

  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Molecular Biology

Criminology and Criminal Justice component

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University is the largest community of criminologists in Australia and is recognised as a leading department globally. You will learn about trends in crime and investigate how crime can be prevented and reduced.

Career Outcomes

The skills you acquire throughout your course of study will open the door to a multitude of career options. Our graduates pursue career paths in state and federal jurisdictions, working in:

  • Policing and security
  • Intelligence
  • Probation and parole
  • Child protection
  • Crime analysis
  • Courts and justice services
  • Crime prevention
  • Regulatory agencies

With crime also becoming an international concern due to the growth of organised networks, global digital technology and the threat of terrorism, there are many more avenues for career advancement.

Programme details

Duration: 4 years for the joint degree. 3 years if studying only the Bachelor of Forensic Science.

Start date: Trimester 1 (February)

Campus: Nathan

Tuition fees (2018 indicative): AU$30,000 per year

Find out more about Griffith University

Master of Environmental Science at Murdoch University, Western Australia

Our Master of Environmental Science degree will provide you with advanced training in the application of environmental science to problem solving. If you are working as an environmental professional, or seeking to do so, and want to undertake advanced studies in environmental science to broaden your environmental expertise or specialise further in a selected area, our Master of Environmental Science provides a perfect balance of advanced science modules and research training (research methods + thesis).

This course facilitates improved awareness of environmental issues from technical, social and political perspectives and provides more specific knowledge in areas of particular interest to individual students. Our teaching staff have significant practical experience ensuring learning is at the leading-edge of professional practice. We aim to supply leaders to the environmental profession with the interdisciplinary scientific and policy skills required to deal with today’s complex environmental problems.

Graduates are well equipped to contribute to continuing improvement in environmental management practices. Our students successfully gain employment in the public and private sectors, including the consulting industry in Australia and worldwide and those already in industry, this Master will allow the ability to take exciting leadership positions within your sector.

Course Structure

Along with the core modules covering areas of Environmental Policy for the 21st Century, Advanced Research Methods for Scientists and your Environmental Science Project (thesis undertaken under supervision with an Academic), you will have a number of Specified Electives to choose from including:

  • Modeling the Environment
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Ecosystem and Societies
  • Resilient Regions: People and Practice 

Programme Details

Duration: 2 years (duration could be less depending on previous studies and preparation)

Start Date: Semester 1 (February) or Semester 2 (July)

Campus: Perth

Tuition Fee (2018 Indicative) :  AU$32,695 per year

Also available: Graduate Certificate (1 Semester) and Graduate Diploma (1 year) in Environmental Science

Further Opportunities

Students who graduate with a Master of Environmental Science are very competitive for PhD Scholarships due to the structure of the Master, with its combination of Research Methods sitting alongside its coursework modules.

Find out more about Murdoch University

Master of Forensic Science (Professional Practice) at Murdoch University, Western Australia

As a graduate in life sciences this course will provide you professional training in forensic science leading to the acquisition of skills relevant to criminal investigations. Crime scene reconstruction is emphasised as is the collection, processing and interpretation of biological and physical evidence. Instruction in anatomy, pathology and death-investigation is provided with a focus on injury recognition. Specimen preparation, sources of contamination, quality assurance, statistical interpretation and the admissibility of evidence are discussed as a prelude to the preparation and delivery of courtroom testimony.

Murdoch has strong links with the Western Australia Police, PathWest (forensic biology), ChemCentre (forensic division), Western Diagnostic Pathology (forensic toxicology) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), providing opportunities for you in regards to research projects and professional experience.

This course is designed to generate graduates with the skills needed to work with the police and other investigative authorities as Forensic Investigators or Crime Scene Officers.

Your Course Structure

Along with the options of two specified electives; Forensic Science Masters Project or Forensic Science Masters Dissertation you will complete core units covering areas of:

  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Homicide and Death Investigation
  • Fingerprinting and Impression Evidence
  • Human DNA Profiling
  • Crime Scene Investigation II
  • Advance Research Methods for Scientists
  • Digital Forensics
  • Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Industry Leading Academics

As part of your degree, you’ll be taught by industry leaders and guest speakers from both Australia and around the world, including:

Associate Professor James Speers

An international recognised expert in developing forensic services, the detection and profiling of drugs and abuse, and the analysis and recovery of inorganic and organic explosives and firearm cartridge discharge residues. He also has extensive experience as a senior forensic science practitioner in the forensic investigation and management of serious crimes and terrorist offences in Northern Ireland. Professor Speers has led and developed programs of work for the United Nations and the European Union to modernise the criminal justice system and security sector in the Middle East, specialising in the development of forensic services and legal frameworks.

Mr Brendan Chapman

A Forensic Scientist with expertise in the fields of forensic genetics and DNA, homicide and sex crime investigation, clandestine grave site recovery and cold case reviews. Having worked for over 10 years in Western Australian State Government departments in both the forensic DNA laboratory (PathWest) and with law enforcement at crime scenes (WAPOL), Brendan has attended thousands of major crime scenes and performed numerous homicide body recovery exercises, providing expert testimony to the Western Australian Supreme Court

Dr John Coumbaros

As well as lecturing, John maintains his position at ChemCentre’s Forensic Science Laboratory, currently as acting Manager Forensic Chemistry with his substantive role being Manager Research, Development and Training. This allows the Master course to maintain strong industry links thereby facilitating the teaching of industry relevant content and the pursuit of research and outcomes that are industry and practitioner focussed. Prior to these roles John was employed in the area of civilian counter terrorism where he led the development and implementation of the Chemical Warfare Agent Laboratory Network and was a forensic chemist with Forensic Science South Australia, during which time he was also seconded to the National Institute of Forensic Science Innovation Strategy project. 

Your Career

Our graduates have gained employment both here and overseas, examples of roles and employers include:

  • Senior Reporting Scientist, PathWest Forensic Biology
  • Major Crime Scene Investigator, WA Police
  • Forensic Scientist, Australian Federal Police
  • Forensic DNA Database Scientist, Victoria Police
  • Senior Technician, ESR New Zealand Forensic Biology

Programme Details

Duration: 1.5 years

Start Date: Semester 1 (February) or Semester 2 (July)

Campus: Perth

Tuition Fee (2018 Indicative): AU$32,970 per year

Other options: Graduate Certificate in Forensic Science (Professional Practice)

Find out more about Murdoch University

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