Forensic Art & Facial Identification MSc

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Science & Engineering
  • Study Mode: Full 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.

The course was established in 2007 by the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD). You will be taught by specialists from scientific backgrounds and experienced forensic art supervisors.

What is Forensic Art?

Forensic Art is the presentation of visual information in relation to legal procedures. Forensic artists aid in the identification or location of victims of crime, missing persons or human remains. They help with the identification, apprehension or conviction of criminals.

Forensic artists need 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.

Our facilities include a well-established art college, newly-refurbished laboratories, a dedicated library and access to human material in a modern medical science environment.

You can also study individual modules from a selection of CAHID programmes via our CPD programme.

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 artists seeking validation or further specialisation of existing skills to conform with medico-legal procedures, and for registration with relevant professional bodies. This includes police artists and medical artists working in the NHS.

How you will be assessed

  • 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

How you will be taught

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.

What you will study

MEng Honours Degree

An MEng honours degree normally takes five years, full time, you study levels 1-5, as described below.

BEng Honours Degree

A BEng honours degree normally takes four years, full time, you study levels 1-4, as described below.

Advanced Entry Honours Degree

It is possible to study for most of our honours degrees in one year less if you have the required grades and subjects as listed in the Entry Requirements section. You study levels 2-4 for the BEng or 2-5 for the MEng. There are definite advantages to considering this route as the time needed to study is reduced by one year which enables you to start working and earning earlier.

Direct entry to Level 3 of the BEng is also possible if you have previously studied Civil Engineering or a related subject in further or higher educational establishments.

Typical Degree Programme

Level 1

Level 1 brings students from different backgrounds to a common knowledge of the main subjects required to study in a range of engineering disciplines. Through project work, we will introduce you to construction professionals and the jobs they do, and to structural analysis and behaviour enabling you to analyse basic trusses and beam arrangements.

  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics
  • Professional Engineering Practice
  • Engineering Project
  • Statics and Beams

Level 2

Level 2 develops your core knowledge and understanding of engineering. On completion of Level 2 you will be able to use both mathematical and engineering methods to solve engineering problems, and will have developed your communication skills. You will have become aware of issues such as health and safety, the environment and the role of the professional engineer in society.

  • Engineering Software and Design
  • Geomechanics
  • Mathematics for Engineers
  • Structural Analysis
  • Surveying and Project
  • Materials and Fluid Mechanics

Level 3

On completion of Level 3 you will have studied in greater depth all the core civil engineering topics including structural design in steel and concrete, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, management and geotechnical engineering.

  • Civil Engineering Materials and the Environment
  • Conceptual Design Project
  • Design Project
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Mathematics for Engineers
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Steel and Concrete Structures
  • Structural Analysis
  • The Business Framework

If your progress permits, you may be able to transfer from the BEng to the MEng at the end of Semester 1 in Level 3.

Level 4

On completion of Level 4 you will be ready to take your place as an effective member of a civil engineering team, whether it is in the field of design or construction. You will have completed a major research project and taken a range of advanced modules that will assist you in meeting the basic requirements needed to become a Chartered Engineer.

All students undertake a Research Project, plus:

  • Advanced Soil and Rock Mechanics
  • Construction Management
  • Structural Design
  • Structural Systems
  • Water Resources and Treatment

plus two modules from a choice of:

  • Concrete Durability and Repair Technology
  • Environmental Hydraulics
  • Geo-environmental Engineering

As with all BEng degree programmes accredited at Chartered Engineer level, there is the need for a period of further learning at the equivalent of Level 5.

Level 5

Level 5 is the final year of the MEng programme and concentrates on modules concerned with the latest developments in engineering design and construction and a multidisciplinary project that will develop your skills in team-working and managing projects. It exempts you from the further learning requirements to become a Chartered Engineer.

All students undertake a Multi-disciplinary Project, plus the following taught modules:

  • Advanced Structural Analysis
  • Project Management
  • Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering
  • Sustainable Construction

"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."

Heather Goodrum
Maxillofacial Biomedical 3D Prothesis Technician
NHS Wales

This course will provide professional training to underpin your first degree. You will enter employment at the leading edge of your discipline. There are various career opportunities in forensic art and facial identification. They will depend on individual background and interests.

Potential careers in forensic art and facial identification exist within the police force and overseas law enforcement, as well as with private companies and in research. Many of the techniques you will learn 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 


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

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.

Heather Goodrum
Maxillofacial Biomedical 3D Prothesis Technician, NHS Wales

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 qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are 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.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

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