Child Forensic Studies (Psychology and Law)
Understanding and interpreting the workings of a child’s mind
Why take this course?
This is a unique degree designed especially for professionals working with children caught up in the legal system.
Supported by academics and clinicians 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 and continue in employment.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Be taught by the largest group of actively researching academics at the cutting edge of forensic psychology research in the UK
- 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.
Having the opportunity to develop my theoretical knowledge and applying it to my day-to-day work was invaluable. Evidence-based practice is key to modern NHS culture and the course helped me prepare for this.
Clare Mander, psychology student
- 1 year full time distance learning, 2 years part time distance learning
Students should usually have a first degree or equivalent. Applicants with professional qualifications in lieu of a first 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.
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man part-time students: £3,000 in year 1 - certificate/diploma, and £3,000 plus inflation in year 2 - diploma/MSc
Home/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man/International full-time distance learning students : £6,000
International part-time students: £3,000 in year 1 - certificate/diploma and £3,000 plus inflation in year 2 - diploma/MSc
+44 (0)23 9284 5550
- Department of Psychology
Structure & Teaching
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 Investigative Interviewing of Children: This unit discusses child development theories including cognitive, emotional, social, and sexual development. It appraises suggestibility in children and provides an overview of the different protocols that can be used to interview children as witnesses/victims.
- 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.
In your second year you will cover several other applied topics and carry out an independent research project relevant to people with intellectual disabilities.
Here are the units you will study:
- 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.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This unit outlines and discusses the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy. You are strongly encouraged to view this course as an introduction to the academic literature on this subject, rather than as training to be a therapist.
- Detecting Deception and Child Perpetrators: This unit discusses verbal and non-verbal methods of detecting deception including 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. 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.
- 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).
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 weekends and workshops covering topics of current interest and study material relating to specific unit topics. There will be opportunities for group work, as well as traditional lectures, presentations and conferences with speakers of national and international repute. Though these workshops are not compulsory, we strongly recommend that you try to attend as you are guaranteed to find them very useful and beneficial to your 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.
Careers & Opportunities
As this course stipulates that you must be employed or involved with children caught up in the legal system, on completing your studies you will have a greater understanding and relevant training for your current role due to the work-based nature of your learning and assessments.
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. You will also be well placed to go on to obtain advanced academic qualifications such as PhDs or professional doctorates.
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degrees students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service – Purple Door – 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.
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University's Admissions Team before being transferred to individual departments for consideration and processing.
Our Postgraduate Information Days for 2013 have now finished, however our academic tutors are still happy to meet potential postgraduate and part-time students. You can find department contact details in the key facts box on this page.
Department specific events aimed at postgraduate and part-time students are listed below:
- Portsmouth Business School postgraduate and part-time open evenings
Tuesday 9 July, Wednesday 4 September
Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions to find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.
Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.