Forensic Art & Facial Identification MSc (and degree combinations)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Science & Engineering
  • Study Mode: Full Time+Part Time

Forensic art encompasses a wide range of subjects, notably facial anthropology and identification, such as two and three-dimensional facial reconstruction, craniofacial superimposition, post-mortem depiction, composite art and age progression.

This highly innovative one-year taught Masters course will encompass all these fields, employing highly specialised tutors from scientific backgrounds alongside experienced forensic art supervisors.

Forensic Art and Facial Identification at the University of Dundee

A forensic artist may aid in the identification or location of victims of crime, missing persons or human remains, and may facilitate the identification, apprehension or conviction of criminals. 

Forensic Art Practitioner

Why study this course at Dundee?

Did You Know?

  • We organise internships for selected students after graduation in forensic and medical institutes across the world.

The MSc in Forensic Art and Facial Identification is a unique Master’s programme. It was established in 2007 by the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD). 

Forensic Art is the presentation of visual information in relation to legal procedures. A forensic artist may aid in the identification or location of victims of crime, missing persons or human remains, and may facilitate the identification, apprehension or conviction of criminals. 

Forensic artists require technical and conceptual art skills alongside comprehensive medical and anatomical knowledge. The course provides training and expertise at the cutting-edge of the forensic art profession. The course is taught by practicing forensic experts who work closely with international police forces and other law enforcement entities.

What is so good about this course?

You will benefit from the facilities of a well-established art college, whilst appreciating the newly-refurbished laboratories, a dedicated library and access to human material in a modern medical science environment.

The award-winning staff in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) are amongst the most experienced in the UK in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, craniofacial identification and the study of the human body. The core remit of the Centre is the study of anatomy and staff deliver high quality anatomy teaching at all levels, via whole body dissection which allows students to develop a sound knowledge of the human body.

The Centre was awarded a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in November 2013. Presented in recognition of 'world class excellence', the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are among the most highly-regarded awards for the UK’s universities and colleges.

A video introduction to our MSc in Medical Art

Who should study this course?

This course will benefit artists with specific interests in the medical and forensic applications of visual art.

It will also provide a postgraduate qualification for police artists, and medical artists working in the NHS, who are seeking validation or further specialisation of existing skills to conform with medico-legal procedures and for registration with relevant professional bodies.

Teaching methods include traditional and online lectures, practical workshops in the studio and dissecting room and small group discussions. These encourage debate around theoretical research-based solutions to current practical problems.


Forensic Art encompasses a wide range of subjects, including craniofacial anthropology and identification, traditional and virtual-sculptural forensic facial reconstruction, craniofacial superimposition, post-mortem depiction, composite art and artificial age-progression. 

Forensic Facial Identification entails the study of facial analysis and comparison through standardised facial photography, CCTV and 3D imaging, morphological analysis of the skull and face, craniofacial anthropometry, eyewitness evidence, the cognitive interview and forensic facial composite production.

This highly innovative one-year taught MSc will encompass these fields, employing highly specialised tutors from scientific backgrounds alongside experienced forensic artists.

Semester 1 (60 credits)

In semester 1 the focus is on the study of anatomy through dissection, prosection study, illustration and facial sculpture and applying this to life art practice.  Students will also be introduced to research methods and digital media.

Anatomy 1 - Head and Neck (15 credits)

Anatomy 2 - Post Cranial (15 credits)

Life Art (10 credits)

Digital Media Practice (10 credits)

Research Methods (10 credits)

Semester 1 may be also taken as a stand-alone PGCert entitled ‘Anatomy for Artists’.


Semester 2 (60 credits)

This period is split over two modules covering the various elements of Forensic Art and Facial Identification.  The first module will focus on Forensic Facial Imaging, Analysis and Comparison.  This involves a practical foundation in standardised facial photography and 3D-imaging techniques, which together facilitate an understanding of the comparative techniques employed in forensic image analysis: including CCTV analysis, forensic facial image comparison and facial biometrics.

The second module focuses on Forensic Art: the scientific estimation underpinning the artistic creation of facial images from a variety of sources.  In an attempt to identify the living, this includes faces created from eyewitness evidence; or from family photos, as in artificial age progression.  In an attempt to identify the dead, this includes faces created based upon mortuary photos of unidentified bodies, the scientific analysis and interpretation of the skull to produce a forensic facial reconstruction, and the anatomical comparison of the unidentified skull and missing-person photographs in craniofacial superimposition.

Students will also undertake a module in Medico-Legal Ethics in order to gain an awareness of the legal and ethical issues surrounding professional practice in medical art.

Forensic Facial Imaging, Analysis and Comparison (25 credits)

Forensic Art (25 credits)

Medical-Legal Ethics (10 credits)

On successful completion of Semesters 1 and 2 there is an exit award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Art and Facial Identification.

Semester 3 (60 credits) - dissertation and exhibition resulting from a self-directed project undertaken either at the university or as a placement.


A variety of assessment methods are employed, including anatomy spot-tests; oral and visual presentations; portfolio assessment of 2D/3D image acquisition and of artwork; written coursework and examination, such as forensic case reports. 


This programme aims to provide professional training to underpin your first degree, so that you can enter employment at the leading edge of your discipline. Career opportunities in forensic art and facial identification are varied and will depend on individual background and interests.

In forensic art and facial identification, potential careers exist within the police force and overseas law enforcement, as well as with private companies and in research. Also, many of the techniques learned are increasingly transferrable.  Potential career paths include:

  • Police or associated art and design departments producing forensic documents, image enhancement, CCTV surveillance, image collection, staff posters and presentations.
  • SOCO/CSIs in UK or overseas law enforcement agencies
  • Facial composite art practitioner and witness interviewer
  • Facial identification services
  • Missing-persons organisations
  • Facial prosthetics
  • Movie special-effects
  • Archaeological artist working with museums, institutes and exhibitions
  • Academia: teaching or research
  • PhD research
  • Medicolegal artwork
  • Freelance art applications 

Heather Goodrum, graduated in 2014
Maxillofacial Biomedical 3D Prothesis Technician, NHS Wales

"During the course I gained a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of head and neck anatomy and forensic techniques. Alongside anatomical learning, I was encouraged to explore a variety of art and design skills, which have been vital to my new career. The course allowed me to produce work within a cornucopia of media that has created a healthy portfolio of work, illustrating to potential employers a diversity of artistic skill. Working with innovative 3D software, and being taught the necessary techniques to produce visually pleasing and anatomically correct models has been one of the major aspects of the course that has allowed me to work within a career where I can apply and develop my knowledge. Practice within the field of journal/ paper writing, and reviewing techniques are essential skills that I am now applying to my current work position.Working within the NHS, I am fully aware of the increasing pressure on the use of 3D printing within medical implants and prosthetics. As a member of a research group, alongside my job role, my understanding of journal reviewing has aided me to approach research projects with confidence and competence, to use my knowledge to bring new ideas and observations to a research group."


Short term internships in forensic institutes throughout the world  are offered to selected students following graduation. Internship institutes offer these internships based on the reputation of the course and its tutors and include the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the USA and the Turkish Police Forensic Laboratory in Ankara.

Year of Entry: 2016

First or upper second class honours degree in Art/Design or related forensic/anatomical science. All applicants must provide evidence of artwork, in the form of a portfolio on CD, which you should submit with your application. Relevant professional experience will be taken into account if you have no graduate qualifications.

EU and International students

For entry requirements tailored to your home country visit the Your Country pages.

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

Please check our English language requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English language courses.


English Language Pre-Sessional Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional programmes throughout the year and Foundation Programme(s) for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which start at the beginning of the academic year.  These programmes are all designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.  Successful completion of these programmes guarantees progression to various degrees at the University of Dundee as long as you hold a relevant offer.

The 30 week (one Academic Year) Foundation Programme(s) allow applicants who have not met our typical academic entry requirements, and require additional English Language support by up to 1.0 IELTS, to gain the necessary qualifications to enter the University of Dundee degree programmes in the following year.

The 24 week Pre-Sessional programme (March – August) provides additional English Language tuition for students who do not meet our minimum English Language requirements by up to 1.0 IELTS and the 10 week Pre-Sessional programme  (June – August) (October – December) provides specialist English Language tuition for students who are 0.5 IELTS below the requirement for their degree programme.

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee statusFees for students starting 2016/17
Scottish, Rest of UK and EU students £8,200 per year of study
Scottish and EU applicants for this course may be eligible for a PSAS tuition fee loan
Overseas students (non-EU) £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Although there is no official deadline for applications, places are awarded on a first come, first served basis. For this reason we recommend applying before the end of May to ensure a place.

Around 10 – 15 pieces of art in any media and either two and/or three dimensions.  It is recommended that you include at least some artwork created from direct observation, such as life drawing or portrait sculpture.  They should be presented digitally on a CD or DVD.  If you live locally you may bring a portfolio of original artwork to the department.

If you have professional experience in a related or relevant field then this will be taken into consideration.

Unfortunately the minimum entry requirement is a 2:1 grade.  However, exceptions to this may include illness or a personal crisis that prevented you from reaching your potential.  This must be confirmed by a supporting letter from your tutor/s

Please read the Postgraduate "How to Apply" section for information on how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Apply online via UKPASS

Course Contact

Dr Christopher Rynn
Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification
+44 (0)1382 386433