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An innovative vocational Forensic Sciences course has been launched by West Cheshire College in an attempt to inspire and inform those with an interest in the subject.

The new BTEC National Award in Forensic Sciences is an intensive part time course that encompasses both the conventional scientific and social science principles of the subject, including practical issues such as fingerprinting, DNA, and toxicology in addition to the more theoretical aspects such as crime causation, crime prevention and psychological profiling.

Forensic Science is a subject that has recently become more appealing to students as it possesses a certain mystique and glamour as a result of its association with TV programmes such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) in any one of its guises, greatly contributing to the subject's soaring popularity.

A Taster of Industry

However, one of the course tutors, Sally Wheeler, explained: "This exciting new qualification gives people who are thinking of a career in criminology or forensic sciences a taste of what the industry is all about". It therefore shows the students the "real side" of Forensic Science.

Students who have completed the course will be better prepared to make an informed decision about whether or not they would really like to pursue a career in this field than if they based their choice purely on the glowing box, as they will have learned more about the standards of knowledge and commitments involved. Experienced professionals in the field will be invited to speak at West Cheshire. The college is also investigating ways of strengthening its ties with University College Chester's Forensic Biology course in order to enable students to gain access to the forensic lab facilities available there.

Two Become One

Another of the tutors at the college emphasized that what distinguishes this course from previous ones is its combination of two separate courses into one single comprehensive course that covers both aspects of criminology and forensic science within the single programme. Course assessment will be carried out through practical assignments and essays set throughout the course.

The BTEC also offers students wider opportunities for continuing and completing further courses in order to achieve a certificate, diploma, or even - as the course carries UCAS points - to enrol on to a university degree course.

The course is taught either on Wednesday and Friday mornings at the Chester Campus or on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Ellesmere Port campus. There are no specific entry requirements for the course, however good English, Maths and a basic knowledge of science is a bonus. For more information about this course please contact Anne Lynch on 01244 670675.

Sara Hashash

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