Forensic psychology student uses heat detection in interview
Mode of Study
Part-time, Full-time
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Start Date
September 2022


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.

Accredited by:

Accredited by the BPS, our Master’s degree is recognised as an important step towards gaining chartered status as a forensic psychologist. You'll develop a systematic knowledge and understanding of forensic psychology, in accordance with the academic requirements of the Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS), for your eventual progression to autonomous practice.

Entry requirements​

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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
  3. 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
  • academia
  • 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.


Year 1

Core modules in this year include:

  • Applied Psychological Research Methods – 30 credits
  • Assessment and Interventions With Offenders – 30 credits
  • Empirical Research Project for Forensic Psychology – 60 credits
  • Investigative Psychology and the Legal Process – 30 credits
  • Theory Into Practice: Foundations of Professional Competence in Forensic Psychology – 30 credits

There are no optional modules in this year.

Changes to course content

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.

Learning support

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:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in 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:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical sessions in labs and studios

Term dates

The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.

See term dates

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

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2022 start)

Full time

  • UK / Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £9,400
  • EU students: £9,400 (including Transition Scholarship)
  • International students: £18,300

Part time

  • UK / Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £3,130 in year 1 and £6,270 in year 2
  • EU students: £3,130 in year 1 and £6,270 in year 2 (including Transition Scholarship)
  • International students: £6,100 in year 1 and £12,200 in year 2

(Fees may be subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out more how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover. 

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

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. 

Additional costs

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.


Deadline for applications

The deadline for 2022 applications for this MSc Social Work course (including supporting documents such as proof of qualifications and references) is 28 February 2022.

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.

Start your application by following the link below:

September 2022 start

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 ( 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

If you are not eligible 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.

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.

International students

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.