Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £35.99 £24.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

A career in forensics and anatomy

Our storytellers take us through their career paths and give some insights into working with facial reconstruction.
As a crime scene investigator, we could get asked to a number of different scenes. You don’t really know what you’re going to get. The list is endless. Whatever crime you can think of, we will attend. The one thing that we do, because we are like a baseline and we deal with all this - yes, we will record the scene, and yes, we will gather evidence. But sometimes we do need to actually gather other information from other specialists. We might use a biologist to do blood patterning. We might use an anthropologist. We might use an expert in explosives, firearms experts. But we’ve always got somebody else that we can go to. One thing that we do come across is bones frequently.
So again, we have specialists that we can go to, to actually see whether they’re human, or whether they’re animal. So from our perspective, we are like the base people that find the stuff, and then we can gather other information from other experts in all different walks to actually help us interpret or even solve a case. You can’t even predict what you’re going to get next. So sometimes it’s a case that you just have to go to universities, or you have to go to hospitals, or other places.
So I started in anatomy and physiology, and then - so my first degree was in anatomy and physiology - I then studied art, and then, kind of combined those skills to take me into the craniofacial forensic art world. Nowadays, students tend to come either from an art background with a real interest in science and anatomy, or from an anatomy, dentistry, anthropology background with some art skills and art interests. So you wouldn’t necessarily need to have qualifications in both of those fields, but certainly both of those skill sets help within this particular application. Most people that work in this field, they’re academics. They’re academic anatomists. They’re academic archaeologists. They’re academic biological anthropologists, physical anthropologists.
Very, very few people work just in facial reconstruction, or just in forensic anthropology, and just do casework. Typically you need to establish yourself as an academic and have that as a disciplinary specialisation. I’m currently working as a senior forensic scientist for LGC, and my area of specialism is body fluids and DNA. And I’m one of the scene-attending scientists, so I’ll get called out to murders and serious assaults and occasionally rape scenes. So I have a mixture of both lab and scene work, and that will be following a case from when it’s submitted, or the scene, through the process and occasionally will attend court and give evidence.
The summer after I carried out the facial reconstruction work, I was waiting to go to start at King’s College in London to do their forensic science master’s degree. And a job ad came up for trainee forensic scientist with the former Home Office forensic science service. So I applied for that, purely in my view, as an experience. I didn’t expect to be offered a job. And part of the interview process was giving a presentation. So I used the facial reconstruction as the subject of my presentation. And I firmly believe that that experience in doing that reconstruction was what opened the door to me getting my career.
Because two weeks after starting the forensic science masters course, I had a phone call offering me the job. My view would be for students to pick a scientific degree that they find interesting and relevant. And I think that will give them a really good scientific grounding and basis to then potentially move into a career in forensic science.

How do you become an expert in Forensic Anatomy?

In this video, we’ll hear from our course experts as they tell us how they came to be involved in forensic work.

Continue learning

If you’re interested in a career involving forensic work, anatomy or biomedical science, why not take your interest further and study with us.

Our undergraduate and postgraduate Biomedical Science degrees are designed for those with a strong general interest in modern biology who want to study at the forefront of the discipline.

They provide a thorough background to the subject from the level of the gene up to the integration of whole body systems, and our anatomy module is one of the only courses in the UK to offer a full dissection of a human cadaver.

There’s also the opportunity to work with world-class scientists doing research into the development and function of various cells, systems and individuals, in both health and disease.

Human Anatomy and Education

The University of Sheffield has launched a new postgraduate degree which offers participants practical and theoretical training in both topographical Human Anatomy and the pedagogy associated with teaching the discipline.

On our MSc. Human Anatomy and Education participants will develop an in-depth knowledge of the human body through comprehensive cadaveric dissection whilst also training to become accredited Anatomy Teachers.

On completion of the course, students will acquire the status of Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the professional accreditation required of education practitioners in Higher Education in the UK. To find out more and learn how to apply for a place, click on the link above.

Undergraduate degrees

Our BSc in Biomedical Science can be taken as a three-year BSc course, or a four-year MBiomedSci course with either a year in industry or a year abroad.

Masters taught courses

There are also a range of taught Masters courses to choose from, which provide a broad learning experience concerned with the understanding of human disease mechanisms and their therapeutic potential.

Designed to respond to the growing demand for specialist research skills, our programmes train the next generation of scientists in this vital and multi-disciplinary nature of Biomedicine.

Research opportunities

The department of Biomedical Science has further options for research including PhD opportunities to choose from.

This article is from the free online

Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now