MSc in Forensic Ballistics

Application Dates
Course Overview
Masters (Coursework)
Tuition Fees
see website
Cranfield, UK
11 Months
Prior Study
Bachelor honours degree
Graduation Results
Not applicable
Study Field

Who is it for?

The course offers students a wide range of different experiences with unique facilities available to no other university in the UK. 

The MSc in Forensic Ballistics course usually has around 10-15 students per year. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, usually with a science or forensic science first degree. Many students come from abroad, especially Europe, Africa and North America. 

Why this course?

The MSc Forensic Ballistics course is part of the MSc Forensic Programme which is formally accredited by The Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences.

The course is highly practical and hands-on, aiming to produce a clear understanding of how firearms and ammunition function, the science of ballistics, the role of the forensic firearms examiner and how the forensic evidence produced in gun crime can be used to help resolve issues in relation to criminal and civil law.

The course consists of a one-week period of introductory studies followed by academic instruction in modular form. Most modules are of five days duration, interspersed with weeks devoted to private study. Students are required to take eight core modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements or interests. This is followed by a four-month research project and either a thesis or literature review and paper.

Informed by Industry

Made up of serving Forensic Practitioners from different disciplines.

Your teaching team

  • Dr Sophie Beckett
  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
  • Dr Karl Harrison
  • Stephen Johnson
  • Professor David Lane
  • Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant
  • Dr Sarah Morris
  • Dr Jon Painter
  • Professor Keith Rogers
  • Dr James Shackel
  • Professor Andrew Shortland
  • Tracey Temple
  • Mark Viner
  • Roland Wessling
  • Dr Mike Williams
  • Professor Peter Zioupos


The Forensic Modular Masters Programme at Cranfield Forensic Institute is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Course details

Students are required to take nine core modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements, or interests. This is followed by a four-month research project and thesis.

Individual project

The individual project takes four months from April to July. The student selects from a range of titles, or may propose their own topic. Most are practically or experimentally based using Cranfield’s unique facilities.


By written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and viva voce.

Compulsory modules

All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course:

  • Analytical Techniques
  • Courtroom Skills
  • Firearms Investigations
  • Forensic Ballistic Investigations
  • Investigation and Evidence Collection
  • Reasoning for Forensic Science
  • Introduction to Firearms Investigations and Forensic Ballistics
  • Materials Engineering and Processing

Elective modules

A selection of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course:

  • Fakes and Forgeries
  • Fires, Explosions and their Investigation
  • Forensic Archaeology: Recovering Buried Remains
  • Forensic Investigation of Explosives and Explosive Devices
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology: Osteology
  • Mass Fatality Incidents
  • Radiographic Investigations in Forensic Science
  • Trace Evidence
  • Hazardous Forensics
  • Forensic Exploitation and Intelligence
  • Digital Crime and Investigation
  • Approach to Failure Investigation and Analysis
  • Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Capability
  • Failure Analysis of Components

Entry requirements

A first or second class Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline such as a science, archaeology, anthropology, engineering, forensic science, materials, or the professional equivalent. Students with other degrees who can show a knowledge of and interest in the scientific elements of the subject will also be considered.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic - 7
  • TOEFL - 100
  • Pearson PTE Academic - 68
  • Cambridge English Scale - 190
  • Cambridge English: Advanced - C
  • Cambridge English: Proficiency - C
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English III - minimum overall score of pass

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Security clearance for Shrivenham

Some Cranfield University courses are delivered at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham which is a Ministry of Defence (MOD) site. All applicants to courses that are wholly or partially delivered at Shrivenham must complete the BPSS (HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard V4 April 2014) prior to registration on the course or must already hold a security clearance to this level or higher.

Please visit our security clearance page for further information.

Your career

Prepares you to practice as a professional expert witness in forensic ballistics, within forensic laboratories, police departments, government bodies and non-governmental organisations. It is also a necessary introduction that could lead into conducting research at PhD level in the subject.