Child Forensic Studies: Psychology and Law
Providing knowledge to help children caught up in the legal system
Why take this course?
This distance learning degree is designed especially for graduate students or professionals already working with children caught up in the legal system.
Supported by academics who have research interests and expertise in child witnessing and children as suspects/offenders, this course provides a chance for you to study relevant specialist topics.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Be taught by actively researching academics at the cutting edge of child forensic psychology research
- Participate in live web-based chat forums to discuss your work with lecturers and other students
- Tap in to our Library’s vast selection of electronic resources or access library facilities and borrow books locally via the SCONUL scheme
What opportunities might it lead to?
This course provides an opportunity for those supporting or working with child victims, witnesses or suspects to enhance their knowledge and skills, and gain an academic qualification.
The MSc course appealed to my inquisitive nature and certainly challenged it, I found CFS invaluable and I try to use my critical and analytical skills more thoughtfully every day in practical situations.
- 1 year full time (distance learning), 2 years part time (distance learning)
- 2018 entry requirements
- Students should usually have an honours degree or equivalent. Applicants with professional qualifications in lieu of an honours degree will be considered on an individual basis. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
Home/EU/Channel Islands/Isle of Man and International full-time students
2017/18 entry: distance learning: £6,400
UK/EU/Channel Islands/Isle of Man and International part-time students
2017/18 entry: distance learning: £3,200 in year 1 - certificate/diploma, and £3,200* in year 2 - diploma/MSc
Course is eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan
* Fees are subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- Department of Psychology
- Programme specification
Structure & Teaching
Full time students will study all units in one full year.
Part time students - Year One:
You will normally study three units each year, and will begin to explore potential research ideas and research methodologies in your first year.
Here are the units you will study:
- Child Development and Young Offenders: This unit discusses child development theories including cognitive, emotional, social, and sexual development and in the second half of the unit, it critically discusses the factors, prevention, and intervention strategies for children as perpetrators. A summary of research on adolescent violent offenders and adolescent sex offenders is followed by a section on child suspects, criminal responsibility, and false confessions and suggestibility.
- Law and Procedures Relating to Children: This unit provides an historical overview of what influenced the changes to the law that have provided the special measures to help children have greater access to the criminal justice process. It also outlines current laws and procedures in England and Wales.
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods: This unit introduces experimental and survey-based research methods, as well as quantitative data analysis techniques. It also covers qualitative methods for data collection and analysis, as well as to how to write research reports in both traditions.
Part time students - Year Two
In your second year you will cover several other applied topics and carry out an independent research project relevant to children caught up in the legal system.
Here are the units you will study:
- Interviewing Child Witnesses and the Detection of Deception: This unit introduces the issue of suggestibility and outlines the current advocated interview protocols for the investigative interviewing of child witnesses. It discusses Statement Validity Assessment, a technique for assessing the truthfulness of statements based solely on what is spoken by the child. The second part of this unit includes discussion of risk factors, prevention and intervention strategies for children as perpetrators.
- Research Project: The research project requires you to initiate, conduct and report upon an original piece of research. The work is conducted to deadlines agreed with a project supervisor and must include empirical quantitative or qualitative research – data collection and relevant analysis must be included. Any statistical analysis must be both descriptive (e.g. means, standard deviations and graphs and so on) and inferential (i.e. statistical tests).
- Communication and Investigative Interviewing of People with Intellectual Disabilities: This unit aims to promote communication skills and opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and outline the status of the law concerning vulnerable adults as witnesses/victims. It aims to provide you with the opportunity to examine issues that arise when people with intellectual disabilities are interviewed as witnesses/victims of crime.
Teaching and Assessment
Despite its distance learning mode, this course is still extremely student focused. You will be given resources, materials, help and guidance to complete your studies to your full ability. Using our virtual learning environment you can participate in group discussions with other students in a friendly yet challenging online class environment. Plus real-time text based 'chat sessions' with lecturers will ensure you receive all the support you need for the topics you study.
How are you assessed?
You are assessed in a variety of ways to reflect the individual topics, however there are no examinations and all assessment is coursework based. Here’s how we assess your work:
- critical reviews
- information leaflets
- presentation slides
- a research project
Facilities & Features
Although you may not be campus based, you will still benefit from web, email or phone access to many of our facilities and services. Our student website, LookUP, will be your one-stop shop for all news, information and links to other services, and 24/7 online access to the University Library’s vast electronic book, journal and database collections will help you find the right resources for your research.
Due to the distance-learning nature of this course and the potential pressure of juggling your course alongside work life, we aim to provide you with as much support as possible. There are tutors available to support your studies via online tutorials, email and telephone conferencing. You will also be assigned a personal tutor who will offer support and guidance throughout your studies.
Throughout the course we aim to organise optional study days and/or workshops covering topics of current interest and study material relating to specific unit topics. Though these workshops are not compulsory, we strongly recommend that you try to attend as students report finding them very useful and beneficial to their studies.
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help. The library also has an electronic bibliography for psychology called PsycInfo, which can be accessed via the internet from your home. It is an invaluable tool for searching for literature on any topic.
Budgeting for your studies
There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.
Careers & Opportunities
Many of our students are already employed or involved with children caught up in the legal system. Others, however, are new graduates and have yet to work in this environment. Whatever your experience, this course aims to enable you to have a greater understanding of many aspects concerning children as victims, witnesses or suspected offenders.
Previous graduates of the course frequently make significant progress in their careers. Some are just in the beginning stages while others move on to senior manager positions and upwards. Those yet to embark on a career have gone on to find work in related professions, such as the police. Others have chosen to complete more studies such as a social work qualification to be able to work directly with children. More recently, students have gone on to study for advanced academic qualifications.
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.
We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.
In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.
Benefits of Postgraduate Study
Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.
- Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
- Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
- Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
- Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
- If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Apply now or visit us
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.
Postgraduate Information Days
We will confirm the dates of events related to 2018 entry soon. Visit the link below to get a reminder when booking opens.
Other opportunities to visit
Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University. You can visit Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4pm.
We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.
Can't get to Portsmouth?
If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and speak with us about the courses we offer and life and study in Portsmouth at one of the events we attend around the UK.
Staff from our International Office also regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.
If you would like to speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email email@example.com and we will arrange this for you.
Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.