UFS offer first undergraduate degree in Forensic Science

When The DNA Project was established in 2005, there was no specific training course for forensic DNA analysts being offered at any tertiary institution in South Africa. This became one of the key objectives of the DNA Project: namely to develop a group of competent, professional forensic scientists to perform forensic science examinations to assist the courts of law secure convictions through the use of DNA evidence. To meet this objective, the DNA Project worked together with the Criminal Justice System Review Task Team and leading academics from around the country to develop a postgraduate qualification at Honours level, aimed at training people with specific skills in forensic DNA analysis.

The first University to take on board this Honours course in 2010 was the University of the Free State, which is now in its third year of offering this course to students. Today, the UFS is taking our initial intiative one step further by now being able to offer an undergraduate BSc degree in forensic science – the first of its kind in South Africa. According to the department of genetics, the degree will target, among others, people working on crime scenes and criminal cases in forensic laboratories and the South African Police Services.

Entrance requirements for the undergraduate degree will be calculated on an admissions point score basis of at least 34, which will be based on an the results obtained in the applicant’s national school-leaving examinations –  as well as a combined minimum point of 17 for maths, life sciences and physical science. Applications for this new degree close on 30 September 2013 and a minimum of 80 students will be selected for admission to the course next year. On completion of the undergraduate programme, postgraduate-level students can continue with forensic science, forensic chemistry, forensic genetics or forensic entomology.

Professor Johan Spies, chair of the department of genetics in the faculty of natural and agricultural sciences, said the university had already received more than 60 applications without any advertising which shows how many students are interested in this career path.  Over-subscription to the new degree was a distinct possibility, and in the very long term, the UFS has plans to expand. However, at the moment the university is limited by laboratory and facility space. Spies said there was no doubt that television programmes like “CSI” had stimulated interest in the subject. “And not only in forensics, but others too. When those TV series are being aired, the genetics department always receives a spate of enquiries.”



The new degree

Being the first higher education institution in South Africa to offer the degree was a coup, and Spies said that other universities had shied away from offering something similar mainly because the degree was so complex.

“If you want to do all aspects of it properly, you need to include medical, physics, genetics, IT, even accounting…there are many facets to the subject. We started with the postgrad course, and it went quite well, so began looking at it on an undergraduate level.

“I visited a number of different universities in the United Kingdom to see how they did it, and then used that as a model on which to base our own course.”

New staff have already been appointed, including a lecturer who studied at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and another who is completing a doctorate in chemistry.

Forensic Hons Student at the UFS

Forensic Hons Student at the UFS

At the moment, the department of genetics has nine lecturers, but Spies said it would also be involving staff from other departments to help with specific areas of certain modules.

This blog entry is an excerpt adapted from an article written by Peta Lee from The University World Press . To read the full article click here.

35 Responses to “UFS offer first undergraduate degree in Forensic Science”

  1. Phophi Madzivhandila says:

    I hold a bsc in Medical bio-science and I am really interested in Forensic sciences. Does my degree hold the requirements to study honours in forensic science?


  2. Gift Booysen says:

    I was currently doing grade 12 this year, I applied to study Biochemistry and Genetics at UFS for next year. So I was wondering if its possible to apply for Forensic Genetics as postgraduate after i am with done with Biochemistry and Genetics?

  3. harry Moloto says:


    I have M-tech IN CHEMISTRY and been working in research and development laboratory at Sasol for 12 years and my passion have been in forensic science.

    I am seriously considering applying for undergraduate degree in Forensic Science at your institution.Where can I find more information on how to apply for the course? is it only offer full time since I am working.

    yours sincerely
    Harry Moloto
    Email: harry.moloto@sasol.com

  4. Angelique says:

    I am a grade 11 student and I am seriously considering applying for this course next year. Would it be better to study genetics before starting this degree? That is the other degree that I am considering. Where can I find more information on how to apply for the course? I would appreciate it if you could get back to me. Thank you.

  5. Caylyn says:

    I’m a 3rd year student at UCT, Bsc Biochemistry. I’m considering an Honours in Forensic science.What should I Do? Is there any bursaries available?

  6. Grace Nghipukuula says:

    Hi. My name is Grace
    I am a Namibian student currently studying Biomedical Science at the Polytechnic of Namibia. I want to study forensic science after i finish with my current degree. Can i apply also apply nd if so, will i be required to start with first year subjects all over again seeing that i might have covered them already.