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

Train at the cutting-edge of the forensic art profession. Transition from undergraduate study to professional practice in contemporary forensics.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

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.

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.

YouTube Poster Image (Cached)

A video introduction to our MSc Medical Art and MSc Forensic Art & Facial Identification

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.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

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

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.

"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

First or upper second class honours degree in art/design or related medical/anatomical science.
You will be invited to upload evidence of artwork - in the form of a portfolio - after we receive your application. Relevant professional experience will be taken into account if you have no graduate qualifications.
Portfolios should be 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.

 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 2018-19
Scottish and EU students £17,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £17,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £17,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Places are limited for this programme and are awarded on a first come, first served basis. If you meet the entry requirements but all places are allocated we will notify you that you have been added to a waiting list.

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowForensic Art & Facial Identification MScP037296

Course Contact

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

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