BSC Genetics in South Africa
We receive emails on a daily basis enquiring about a career in Forensic Analysis in South Africa. We have put together a list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS which will give you some insight into this field and what is required should you wish to pursue a career in forensics in South Africa:
1. What field of forensic science does the DNA Project focus on?
There are many fields in forensic science and we can only provide you with information on forensic genetics. The DNA Project focuses specifically on the use of DNA from biological material that can be used as evidence in criminal cases. This type of work is
generally done in a laboratory where the scientist will receive evidence from a crime scene, extract DNA from the evidence if possible and thereafter obtain a DNA profile of the individual in question. The DNA profile obtained from crime scene evidence will then
be compared with the DNA profile from a suspect. If they match then it means that the suspect must have been at the crime scene. In contrast if there is no match then the suspect is innocent.
The DNA Project does not have any laboratories of our own and we are not involved with any casework. We function merely as an NGO whose objectives include the implementation of a DNA awareness campaign where we educate people who are likely to be the first at a crime scene on the importance of DNA evidence as well as how to contain and not contaminate a crime scene. In addition, we are lobbying for changes to the existing legislation regarding the use of DNA evidence and a DNA Database to assist
in the detection and conviction of offenders.
2. What subjects do I need to take at school if I want to study to become a forensic DNA analyst?
You will need to take Physical Science, Life Science (Biology) and core Maths for matric in order to be accepted at a University offering a BSc degree in Molecular Biology.
3. How can I study to become a DNA analyst at a forensic science laboratory?
If you are considering a career in Forensic Genetics (DNA) then you would need to complete a B.Sc. and major in Genetics and Biochemistry or Molecular Biology. This can be done at a number of Universities such as Pretoria, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch, University of Free State and University of KZN. The B.Sc. degree takes 3 years to complete. Thereafter you would need to complete an honours degree (1 year) where you would specialise in forensic DNA analysis. Currently there are
two Universities offering such a degree. These are the University of Free State and the University of Cape Town. Such a degree would qualify you for employment at the State Forensic Science Laboratory (part of SAPS) or other private laboratories offering services such as paternity testing.