This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive insight of the field of firearms, ammunition and ballistic investigations. The course offers students a wide range of different experiences with unique facilities available to no other university in the UK and is part of the MSc Forensic Programme which is formally accredited by The Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, usually with a science or forensic science first degree. Many students come from abroad, especially in Europe, Africa and North America. 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.

Course structure

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 either a thesis or literature review and paper.

Example modules


  • 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,
  • Research Project.


  • Introductory Studies,
  • Environmental Forensic Science,
  • 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,
  • Failure Mechanisms of Materials,
  • Forensic Exploitation and Intelligence,
  • Digital Crime and Investigation,
  • Approach to Failure Investigation and Analysis,
  • Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Capability.

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.

Future 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 to conducting research at PhD level in the subject.

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 knowledge of and interest in the scientific elements of the subject will also be considered.

Important information

Decisions are currently being made regarding whether this course (and/or some of its modules) will be taught at Shrivenham or Cranfield in the 2019-2020 academic year and beyond. The information on this page was correct at the date shown below, but any changes will be sent to those who have already enquired or applied as soon as further details are available.

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated March 25, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Oct 2019
11 - 36 months
20,500 GBP
Overseas - Home/EU: £12,000
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