Forensic Psychology MSc
MSc Forensic Psychology
Applying for 2021/22 entry? See how you'll be taught in our Covid information for applicants.
If you want to apply your psychology studies to the exciting field of criminal investigation, then this MSc Forensic Psychology degree course will give you the tools, skills and knowledge to reach your ambition.
You'll learn to understand the different aspects of the legal system, and bring together the disciplines of clinical, social and cognitive psychology, as well as criminology and law. You'll address the major issues concerning the justice system, organisations, individuals and society.
If you're ready to take the next step towards chartered status as a forensic psychologist, this course will introduce you to research at the forefront of the field, and give you the opportunity to get involved with ongoing projects in the department.
MSc Forensic Psychology Master's degree entry requirements
Qualifications or experience
- A good honours degree in Psychology that is recognised by the British Psychology Society as conferring Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
Applicants are expected to have some relevant experience at the time of application. This can be one or more of 3 kinds:
- Paid employment directly within or related to the criminal justice system (e.g. Assistant Psychologist in the Prison Service/Forensic Mental Health Setting, a role in probation/the police, Youth Offending Team or similar)
- Paid work in a setting where you have used "transferable skills" (e.g. interpersonal skills/problem-solving) with relevant populations such as the homeless, individuals with learning disabilities, those with mental health/substance related problems
- Voluntary work with relevant agencies that again work with populations relevant to the criminal justice system (e.g. Victim Support, NACRO, Circles, SOVA, Motiv8, ‘Appropriate Adult’ services)
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
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.
What you'll experience
On this course, you'll:
- Learn from the largest group of actively researching forensic psychology academics in the UK
- Put your investigative techniques to the test in our Forensic Interviewing Suite
- Benefit from our connections with custodial establishments, including adult male and women's prisons, young offenders' institutions and secure hospitals
- Be taught in accordance with the academic requirements of the Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS)
- Use our laboratories to carry out investigations, with specialist facilities including eye-tracking equipment, observation suite, and digital analysis and video editing suite
- Study themes including professional competence, assessment and interventions with offenders, and investigative psychology and the legal process
- Complete a research project on a topic of your choice, applying your research and data analysis skills to produce a piece of work to a publishable standard
Careers and opportunities
When you graduate, you'll usually do a minimum of 2 years full-time supervised practice in an employment setting. The work of forensic psychologists is varied, ranging from criminal investigations to organisational change, and from matters of civil justice such as child access to operational emergencies such as hostage incidents.
What can you do with a Forensic Psychology degree?
Here are some routes our previous graduates have pursued:
- working in prisons
- probation work
- the police force
- social work
- health services
- the courts
- private practice
Work experience and career planning
We'll help you to identify voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.
When you complete this course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the heritage, teaching, or other related industries.
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
What you'll study on this MSc Forensic Psychology degree course
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
You need to study modules worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 30 credits and 1 module worth 60 credits.
Core modules include:
- Theory into Practice: Foundations of Professional Competence in Forensic Psychology
- Assessment and Interventions with Offenders
- Empirical Research Project for Forensic Psychology
- Investigative Psychology and the Legal Process
- Applied Psychological Research Methods
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.
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
academicwriting notetaking timemanagement criticalthinking presentationskills referencing workingin groups revision, memory and exam techniques
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Teaching on this course includes:
- practical sessions in labs and studios
The academic year runs from October to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – October to January
- Assessment period 1 – late January to early February
- Teaching block 2 – February to May
- Assessment period 2 – May to June
Full-time students will attend the University on Tuesday and Thursday, and part-time students will attend on either a Tuesday or a Thursday, which will then be fixed for the 2 years.
Taught elements of the course will finish at the end of teaching block 2, however, students in their final year of study will submit their final research project in September.
How you're assessed
You'll be assessed through:
- briefing reports and essays
- oral presentations
- expert testimony
- research dissertation
Tuition fees (2021 start)
- UK / Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £9,000
- EU students: £9,000 (including Transition Scholarship)
- International students: £16,400
- UK / Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £3,000 in year 1 and £6,000 in year 2
- EU students: £3,000 in year 1 and £6,000 in year 2 (including Transition Scholarship)
- International students: £5,470 in year 1 and £10,930 in year 2
(Fees may be subject to annual increase)
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.
The deadline for 2021 applications (including supporting documents such as proof of qualifications and references) is 28 February 2021.
Applications and supporting documentation received after the deadline may not be considered and will be subject to availability of places on the course.
Please read guidance for applicants (below) before you apply.
Guidance for applicants
Having GBC (Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership – formerly known as Graduate Basis for Registration or GBR) is the usual minimum requirement for entry to this MSc programme.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) is now less strict about GBC. But to benefit from and keep up with the course it's essential that you have a sufficient grounding in psychology. In addition, you can't become Chartered or Registered as a Forensic Psychologist without GBC.
GBC relies on having completed an honours or joint honours degree in psychology that's accredited by the BPS.
With your application, please do one of the following:
- send a copy of a letter from the BPS confirming your GBC
- ask an academic referee to confirm that your degree is accredited by the BPS as conferring GBC
Degrees from outside the UK
If you did your degree outside of the UK, you may still be granted GBC if your degree is judged by the BPS to have involved sufficient (and assessed) coverage of core areas such as cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, individual differences and research skills.
Contacting the BPS
If you've already completed your degree, we advise you to contact the BPS (email@example.com) without delay. You'll need to provide transcripts and getting a decision usually takes several weeks.
If successful, please send your letter of confirmation with your application. If you're still completing your degree, you can still complete your application now. But please contact the BPS as soon as you have your final degree classification and transcript. Then send us a copy of the letter informing you of their decision as soon as possible.
If you don't meet GBC requirements
We can exercise some discretion in accepting applicants who are only just short of meeting the requirements for GBC and who have strengths in other areas such as relevant experience.
If you're less close to eligibility for GBC, perhaps because your degree was in a subject other than psychology (such as criminology or law), you could consider doing a conversion course that leads to GBC. These are usually one year if full-time and two years if part-time. The BPS can give a full list of places and titles of courses.
There are always considerably more applicants than places on this course – we usually take 24–30 new students a year but up to 100 applicants. So it pays to strengthen your position as much as possible.
How well you do in your initial degree counts. So too does taking any opportunities to do modules or a research project relevant to forensic psychology. However we recognise that sometimes a degree result can be affected by extraneous factors and that not all courses provide the opportunity to study directly relevant aspects. In such circumstances it’s especially important you demonstrate your commitment and awareness of what the field involves and the best way is through relevant experience. This is important anyway, even if you are strong academically.
Types of relevant experience
Relevant experience can be of 3 kinds:
- Paid employment directly within or related to the criminal justice system – this includes, for example, having been a psychological assistant in the Prison Service, an assistant psychologist in a forensic mental health setting, or a probation support officer, or having worked as a police officer, or in a Youth Offending Team or similar.
- Paid work in a setting where you have to use "transferable skills" (such as interpersonal skills and problem- solving) with often challenging populations such as homeless people, individuals with learning disabilities, those with mental health or substance-related problems or ex- offenders. Such roles often have “care worker” or "support worker" in the job title. We have on occasion taken applicants with experience in dealing with aggressive, dishonest or inebriated clients in other contexts.
- Voluntary work with agencies such as Victim Support (they give training in counselling skills), NACRO (they have initiatives such as teaching prisoners to read), SOVA or Motiv8 (e.g. mentoring young offenders or those at risk) or 'appropriate adult' services (ensuring that the rights of young people brought into police stations are upheld). Such work also helps job prospects after the programme.
Being selected depends largely on the quality of your academic attainment, relevant experience and references but it is also worth taking care with the documentation.
Quality of writing does matter. So does the ability to reflect on your experience and knowledge and to reflect upon what a career in forensic psychology would involve – and where appropriate to connect the two in, for example, demonstrating your understanding of how skills that you’ve begun to develop might be relevant to working as a scientist- practitioner. Your reflections on what a career in this field involves will be enhanced by reading around this (a starting point could relevant websites such as those of the BPS and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service).
So, in your personal statement it’s helpful for you to make explicit aspects such as why you want to do the programme, your understanding of forensic psychology, previous academic and practical experience, particular interests, aspirations and any ideas for research, all written to an appropriate academic and professional standard.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us (above) or you can 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.