Taught course

Fire Scene Investigation

University of Central Lancashire · School of Engineering

Entry requirements

Honours degree of the level 2.2 or above from a UK university or of the CNAA or its equivalent in an appropriate engineering or science discipline (forensic science, biology, chemistry, fire safety engineering etc); Degree or HNC or HND in an appropriate discipline, together with appropriate professional experience; Qualification or experience deemed to be equivalent to any of the above.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Fire scene investigation is a scientific approach to the examination, analysis and interpretation of evidence which can be found at a fire scene. Determining the origin and cause of a fire requires the application of practical skills and scientific knowledge from a variety of disciplines. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are also required to ensure investigative conclusions are effectively communicated. This is often carried out in a high pressure environment such a criminal or civil court.

The course covers fire scene investigation theory and practice, the principles of fuels, sources of ignition and fire behaviour in buildings, fire modelling and computational fire dynamics in relation to fire cause and development hypothesis testing, providing evidence as an expert witness in court, the anatomy of large scale accidents and catastrophes, and research skills. The theory and practical sessions will build confidence through the development of practical expertise and specialist knowledge in the field of fire scene investigation and reporting protocols.

MSc Fire Scene Investigation comprises the following modules:

Research Methods:
Develops a wide range of skills including technical documentation, project management, data analysis and retrieval, writing and research skills, and library use.

Fires in Buildings:
This module develops understanding with respect to the fundamental principles underlying fires in buildings, dominant mechanisms controlling spread of fires and fire development in enclosures and buildings, smoke movement, fire resistance and fire severity, to characterise the stages of fire development, human behaviour in fires and evacuation, the mechanism of fire suppression agents.

Computational Fluid Dynamics:
CFD modelling techniques can be used to model fire development and extract a comprehensive transient picture of a real fire scenario with the objective of quantitatively predicting the fire behaviour in relevant situations. Within the context of fire investigation this is growing methodology used by the fire investigator to test various hypotheses.

Practical Fire Investigation:
Provides students with the detailed knowledge and practical experience of fire investigation. Areas covered will include recognition of causes of fire, laboratory analysis of fire debris, fire fatalities, and management of fire investigation. Students will conduct a real fire scene investigation as part of the assessment for this module.

Expert Witness in the Legal Process:
Covers communication skills and provides background and training in expert witness delivery, the study of British and International Law.

Accidents and Catastrophes
This module aims to develop an awareness and understanding of accident and catastrophe phenomena, their impact on society, and disaster and emergency planning. This module will help the students to develop analytical and investigative skills applied to accident and catastrophes, and their prevention.

Research Project:
Every student will undertake a research project, which will use and enhance many of the skills learnt on the course. The project will be based within the University or on a placement with a suitable fire investigation agency or analytical unit. The result should be a publishable quality paper and students will also be required to give a presentation of their findings.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24-36 months

Course contact details

Course Enquiries
+44 (0) 1772 892 400