Forensic Psychology BSc (Hons)
BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology
Explore how psychological knowledge informs criminal investigations and forensic practice, and help to understand offending behaviour on this BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degree, accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
While a psychology degree covers the mind and behaviour in a wider sense, studying forensic psychology means focusing on the way people think, act and feel in relation to crime and legal issues.
- Put your investigative techniques to the test in our Forensic Interviewing Suite, which features thermal imaging cameras, eye tracking and virtual reality (VR) technology and advanced digital and video analysis
- Use our motion capture studios, which feature the latest Vicon optical system, to explore the mechanics and perception of human movement
- Have the chance to study abroad or take part in a year-long work placement, boosting your employability prospects after the course
- Learn from forensic psychology practitioners involved in the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology, the largest academic research centre for forensic psychology in the UK
- Become eligible to apply for graduate membership of the British Psychological Society (with a 2:2 or higher) – an essential first step to becoming a professional forensic psychologist
90% of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)
This degree offers eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS), if you graduate with a 2:2 or higher.
Phoebe, one of our Forensic Psychology BSc students, talks about her experiences on the course and her plans after graduation at the University of Portsmouth.
Phoebe: I wanted to study psychology because I did forensic science at college and I absolutely loved it. I read up on the course here for Forensic Psychology and thought that sounds amazing, just what I want to do. So I applied, got in and here I am.
It's just all the skills you build up through uni. You engage with so many different people, you really learn group work and think these are all going to help me for my future career.
So after my third year, I'd like to go on to do a master's degree. I hopefully would like to do it at Portsmouth because I love it here. I would definitely like to work in prisons. I think it would be interesting to assess offenders. I'm hoping that going into my master's will open up more avenues and it might completely change my mind.
I have really enjoyed my offending behaviour model. It's been all to do with different offenders, why they offend and it's been so interesting. I have also really enjoyed doing my dissertation. I've had to interview different people. It quite rewarding doing your own research as well because you have put in all that work yourself.
I would recommend University of Portsmouth. It's such a great location. It's got a great atmosphere. The courses are brilliant and the support is fantastic. I've just completely enjoyed it. It's just been such a great experience.
BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degree entry requirements
- A levels – AAB–ABB
- UCAS points – 128–136 points from 3 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDD–DDM
English language requirements
- English Language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Facilities and specialist equipment
Eye tracking and VR technology
Discover how eye-tracking and virtual reality (VR) equipment can be used to improve our understanding of interviewing techniques and detecting deception, and used to study areas such as offender behaviours, emotions and cognitions.
Motion capture studio
Explore how body language influences our view of others, including how we react to perceived threat, using our advanced optical motion camera systems that capture accurate three-dimensional movement.
Record and analyse physical responses, such as electrical activity in the brain, neural processes, blood pressure and heart rate, to explore how the body reacts to different psychological states.
Learn how thermal camera technology can be used to read physiological activity in the face and reveal signs of deception.
Take a tour of King Henry Building at the University of Portsmouth and the specialist psychology equipment and facilities we use in our Forensic Psychology BSc and Psychology BSc courses.
"The thing that really hooked me? The facilities. There’s a fully functioning forensic lab that I can use here!
Now I’m studying forensic psychology, with elements of criminology, that is focused on understanding the abnormalities in people’s thinking and learning how to fix them."
Careers and opportunities
Forensic psychology is the study of the mind as it relates to legal issues, investigations and criminal behaviour. It includes everything from the moment a crime is committed (before an arrest) through to a criminal investigation and the following legal proceedings, to the monitoring, rehabilitation and release of an offender back into the community.
On this BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology, you'll gain hands-on experience conducting research on forensic topics with developments at the forefront of psychological science. You’ll explore the patterns and behaviours of offenders and victims, build skills in gathering and analysing forensic data, and learn how to present your findings.
When you complete the course with a 2:2 or higher, you'll be eligible for graduate membership of the British Psychological Society (BPS), which is an essential first step to becoming a Chartered Forensic Psychologist. To become Chartered, you'll also need to do further academic training for up to 5 years, including an MSc Forensic Psychology.
As a Chartered Forensic Psychologist, you'll be ready for a career in HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), within the NHS (such as in rehabilitation units and secure hospitals), or within social services, including the police service, young offenders units and the probation service.
What areas can you work in with a forensic psychology degree?
Many graduates go on to do an MSc in Forensic Psychology after the course. You could also start a career in areas such as:
- health associated professions
- social welfare
- police work
- probation service
Graduate roles and destinations
Roles our previous graduates have gone on to include:
- clinical psychologist
- forensic psychologist
- educational psychologist
- health planning analyst
They've taken roles in the following organisations:
- National Probation Service
- Ministry of Defence
- North East London NHS Foundation Trust
As a trainee forensic psychologist within HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), you could expect a starting salary of between £27,021 and £34,461.
Once you qualify as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist, you could earn from £37,218 and £46,846 and up to £53,952 as a senior Chartered Forensic Psychologist.
Working for the NHS in 2021, you would start as a trainee forensic psychologist on £32,306 to £39,027 (Band 6). With a role as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist, your salary could reach up to £45,839 (Band 7) or more with further experience.
Ongoing careers support
After you graduate, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability Service as you advance in your career.
In my first year we visited the courts of law and sat in the public gallery to watch a court case. In our course you have the chance to participate in studies and I think this is valuable experience to get an idea of what it would be like to conduct and administer your own research study.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the field. A placement year gives you the opportunity to apply your knowledge in a real workplace, boosting your employability and making you stand out to employers after the course.
You can work for a company or organisation here in the UK or overseas, or you could go independent by setting up and running your own business with other students.
Whichever route you choose, you'll receive support and guidance. Our specialist team of Science and Health Careers advisors can help you with finding a work placement and improving your employability skills. They'll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including help with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement year.
Potential prison placements
Previous students have completed work placements in medium secure units, youth offending teams and prisons, including:
- HMP Bronzefield
- HMP Ford
- HMP Winchester
Potential placement destinations
Other students have taken placement roles in organisations including:
- Broadmoor High Security Hospital
- Hampshire Constabulary Student Watch
- Catch 22 - a not-for-profit business involved in offender management, rehabilitation and victim services
- Motiv8 - a charity working for safer communities for young people and their families
You’ll also have the chance to study abroad at one of our partner universities in Europe or Asia, which is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new destination and experience the world as an international student.
Many of our students describe their time spent studying overseas as truly life-changing, as well as an excellent way to stand out to future employers.
Dr Lucy Akehurst, Head of Department of Psychology, talks about the exciting facilities available to current and future students.
Dr Lucy Akehurst: When our first year undergraduate students arrive at the Department of Psychology, I think they feel part of the community straight away.
We pride ourselves on our tutorial system at the University of Portsmouth. Staff are working with students from the word go.
We have a number of laboratory facilities and each of them house specialist equipment. We've got a baby and infant lab. We have a suite of labs, there's observation facilities, one way mirrors and recording equipment. We also have a Psychophysiology lab which has an EEG machine and eye tracking. We also have a motion capture laboratory. We have special cameras that pick up the sensors that the students have placed on their participants just to see how the human body moves when we perform particular actions.
The nice thing about coming to Portsmouth is that undergraduate students from the word go have access to those facilities.
What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, in the first 2 years, you'll study 6 modules, each worth 20 credits. In the final year of your degree, you'll study 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
- Applying Psychological Research Skills (40 credits)
- Exploring Psychology (40 credits)
- Forensic Psychology in Context (20 credits)
- Perspectives in Psychology (20 credits)
There are no optional modules in this year.
All modules listed below are worth 20 credits each.
- Biological & Cognitive Psychology
- Individual Differences & Psychometrics
- Professional Development and Employability
- Psychological Research Methods
- Quantitative Data Analysis
- Social & Developmental Psychology
There are no optional modules in this year.
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
- Psychology Research Project (Extended) (40 credits)
- Psychology Research Project (20 credits)
All modules listed below are worth 20 credits each.
- Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology
- Educational Psychology
- Exploring Data for Forensic Psychology
- Introduction to Teaching
- Issues in Clinical and Health Psychology
- Psychology of Investigations
- Psychology of Offending Behaviour
- Psychology of Security
- Social Construction of Disability
- Trauma, Memory & Law
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed:
You’ll be assessed through:
- written examinations
- practical reports and essays
- poster presentations
- oral presentations
- self-led research project
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed will depend on the modules you select throughout your course. Here's an example from a previous year of how students on this course were typically assessed:
- Year 1 students: 25% by written exams, 22% by practical exams and 53% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 38% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 54% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 33% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 54% by coursework
Teaching methods on this course include:
- tutorial groups
- practical lab and studio sessions
There’s a priority on integrating research into all of our teaching. This ensures you'll learn about the most important and current issues in forensic psychology that effect real-life practice.
Dr Zarah Vernham, Undergraduate Psychology Programmes Lead
I'm the Undergraduate Programmes Lead for the BSc (Hons) Psychology and BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degrees. I lead a Level 6 (year 3) module called Psychology of Security and teach on other modules such as the Psychology of Offending Behaviour and Research Methods and Data Analysis modules.
I'm the Deputy Director of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology (ICRFP). My main research interests are in the areas of investigative interviewing, deception detection, offender behaviours and cognitions, and mental health.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your Forensic Psychology degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as tutorials, lectures, seminars and practical classes and workshops for about 10 hours a week. You'll have personal tutorials built into your modules, with weekly meetings in your first year and fortnightly meetings in the second year.
The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK) for one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to:
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from the faculty librarian for science.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,300 per year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
If you do an optional placement unit during your study, you’ll need to pay additional costs.
These costs will vary depending on the location and length of the placement. You’ll normally pay £50–£2000 to cover travel, accommodation and living costs.
How to apply
To start this course in 2022, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – C810
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.