Explore current issues of real-life practice
Why take this course?
Forensic psychology is an expanding field. It interfaces with other disciplines such as clinical, social and cognitive psychology, as well as criminology and law in order to address issues of major concern to the justice system, organisations, individuals and society.
This is a unique course informed by research at the forefront of the field, with many opportunities to get involved with ongoing projects within the Department.
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
- Put your investigative techniques to the test in our Forensic Interviewing Suite
- Benefit from our connections with a variety of custodial establishments including adult male and women's prisons, young offenders' institutions and secure hospitals
What opportunities might it lead to?
Accredited by the BPS, our Master’s degree is recognised as providing an important step towards eventual chartered status as a forensic psychologist. It aims to provide you with a systematic knowledge and understanding of forensic psychology, in accordance with the academic requirements of the Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP), the British Psychological Society (BPS) for accredited courses and eventual progression to autonomous practice.
Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:
- working in prisons
- probation work
- the police force
- social work
- health services
- the courts
- private practice
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, 2 years part time
- A good honours degree in Psychology that is recognised by The British Psychological Society as conferring Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC). All applicants subject to interview. All offers are subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance. 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 students
2016/17 entry: full time: £6,400, part time: £2,130 in year 1 and £4,270* in year 2
2017/18 entry: full time: £6,400, part time: £2,130 in year 1 and £4,270* in year 2
2016/17 entry: full time: £13,700, part time: £4,570 in year 1 and £9,130* in year 2
2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400, part time: £4,800 in year 1 and £9,600* in year 2
*Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- Department of Psychology
- Programme specification
- Accreditations & Endorsements
Structure & Teaching
The course content is structured to reflect developments and priorities in the field of forensic psychology and is kept under constant review to keep it up-to-date.
Here are the units you will study:
- Theory into Practice: Foundations of Professional Competence in Forensic Psychology: This unit provides a foundation for working as a scientist-practitioner. From an early introduction to concepts of reflective practice, personal development and core skills relevant to completing the course, it moves to encouraging an awareness of factors involved in criminal behaviour and their implications. The focus is on the application and development of skills in analysis and less on the learning of facts and theories. In the second part of the unit, the focus moves to tasks and challenges that forensic psychologists encounter in applied settings. Some, such as the design and evaluation of training for other personnel or consultancy skills, are of major relevance to Stage 2 of the system for progression to chartered status that usually follows the course. Others such as countering manipulation, stress and managing aggression can be crucial to survival as well as effectiveness as a practitioner.
- Assessment and Interventions with Offenders: This unit is concerned with providing an understanding of the theoretical and empirical underpinnings, contents and methods of current and widely-used approaches to assessment (including risk assessment) and interventions with offenders. These approaches are linked and provide a framework for the organisation and evaluation of information, particularly in relation to efficient, useful and accurate formulation and what works in the delivery of interventions. It will build upon knowledge of factors related to criminal behaviour with a focus on effective approaches and context-related factors in the understanding and management of offenders in a variety of settings.
- Empirical Research Project for Forensic Psychology: For this unit you will undertake a complete piece of empirical research in an area of forensic psychology that you find particularly interesting. It provides an opportunity to develop and integrate a range of skills and areas of knowledge including creative formulations, problem-solving, ethics, handling interpersonal demands, use of IT and analytical techniques, and writing to a publishable standard.
- Investigative Psychology and the Legal Process: This focuses on the contribution made by psychology in the context of forensic investigations and the role of psychologists in criminal and civil law proceedings. It is concerned with the application of psychological research and theory in an effort to critique (and improve) practice in criminal and civil justice systems as an applied context for testing the validity and efficacy of psychological theories and innovative practice derived from these theories. Topics cover relevant procedural information to ensure you appreciate investigative, judicial and custodial processes, and the role of psychologists within these frameworks. Theory and research relevant to applied cognitive and social psychology are presented to inform an understanding of eyewitness recall and recognition memory (and memory errors), effective protocols for testing/probing witness memory, detecting deception and juror decision making. Theory and research relevant to offender profiling is also addressed.
- Research Methods and Data Analysis: This unit is designed to provide a familiarity with psychological research methods and data analysis commensurate with understanding and conducting research at the postgraduate and professional level. Specific methodologies and issues of relevance to specific research areas are addressed within a perspective that emphasises creative problem-solving.
Teaching and Assessment
We give high priority to integrating our research activities with your teaching programme. This ensures that you learn about the most important and current issues in forensic psychology that effect real-life practice.
Teaching usually takes the form of lectures and small tutorial groups, together with practical sessions in our labs and studios.
How are you assessed?
We assess you in a variety of ways throughout the course. Here’s how:
- written examinations
- briefing reports and essays
- oral presentations
- the giving of expert testimony
- a research dissertation
Facilities & Features
You will benefit from our range of modern, high quality facilities. Carry out your own investigations – monitor behaviour using our eye-tracking equipment or test minority influencing scenarios in our Observation Suite. Other labs include:
- A Toddler and Infant Laboratory
- A Psychophysiology Laboratory
- Digital Analysis and Video Editing Suite
- A Psychology of Applied Cognition Laboratory
Forensic Interviewing Suite
Train in the art of forensic interviewing. Use the suite’s state-of-the-art audio and video-recording facilities to uncover your subjects bluff. Or detect deception using our thermal imaging cameras, specifically looking for the blush reflex around the eyes, cheeks and neck.
You will 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.
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
The work of forensic psychologists is varied. Depending on where practitioners work, it can range from criminal investigations to organisational change, from work with offenders to work with staff who work with offenders, and from matters of civil justice such as child access to operational emergencies such as hostage incidents.
Accredited by the BPS, our Master’s degree is recognised as providing the next important step towards eventual chartered status as a forensic psychologist. Following successful completion of this course, you will usually go on to do a minimum of two years full-time supervised practice in an employment setting.
Roles our graduates have taken on include:
- clinical psychologist
- forensic psychologist
- educational psychologist
- health planning analyst
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.
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.
Postgraduate Information Days
Our Postgraduate Information Days for 2016 entry have now finished.
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If you are unable to visit us, why not contact the admissions team for your course of interest via our course pages.
If you have any further enquiries about postgraduate study at Portsmouth, including advice on the Postgraduate Loan for 2016 entry plus scholarships and bursaries available visit our postgraduate pages.
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Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.