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Criminal Psychology and Victimology (Distance Learning) MSc

Gain an in-depth understanding of criminal psychology and victimology on this part-time Master's degree, studying at your own pace via distance learning.

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Explore what's behind the experiences of both offenders and victims of crime on this part-time Master's degree in Criminal Psychology and Victimology, studying at your own pace via distance learning.

You'll learn how taking a psychological approach, such as through offender profiling, can be the key to a criminal investigation. You'll look at different types of offending behaviour with a view to understanding those behind it and working with them to reduce rates of reoffending. 

You'll also gain an insight into the challenges faced by victims of crime, and study the theoretical perspectives that inform our understanding of victimisation. You'll explore the wider historical and political contexts that influence victim-centred policy and legislation, gaining the skills you need to advocate for victims of crime anywhere within the criminal justice system.

As you develop your skills in data analysis, research, and critical and evaluative thinking, you'll also tailor your degree with your choice of topic from the psychology of investigations, missing persons investigations, and vulnerability, risk and resilience of victims of crime.

When you complete the course, you'll be ready to work on behalf of offenders or victims of crime and to achieve the best outcomes for them, within criminal justice agencies, related support services and collaborative partnerships.


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

Course highlights

  • Delve into the psychology of offending behaviour from the perspectives of causation, intervention and rehabilitation, while also assessing current legislation and placing a particular emphasis on reducing reoffending
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the policies and legislation relating to victims of crime, including victimology theory, the processes of victimisation, the development of reforms, and the often controversial relationship between state, offender and victim
  • Learn from expert academics from our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, many with previous experience as police officers, crime scene officers, probation officers and intelligence analysts
  • Be part of our community of researchers by getting involved with our criminology research groups, such as the Collaboration of Forensic Interviewing, the Probation, Prison and Penology research group, the Victimology and Ecological Justice research group and the Missing Persons research group
  • Complete a major project based on your chosen area of research, with the support of qualified and enthusiastic experts in the field

Benefits of distance learning

  • Work from anywhere, at your own pace, in your own time – with interactive online learning materials hosted on our virtual learning environment, Moodle, and available 24/7 on any device – find out how distance learning works
  • Access to over 600,000 ebooks, 55,000 online journals, digital newspapers and a postal loan service from our University Library – see all library support for distance learners
  • Invitations to online forums where you can discuss your studies with other students and your lecturers
  • Access to all student support services via email, phone, online chat or video call

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions


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

You'll examine links with mental health to systematically analyse the psychological factors behind a range of crimes.

By evaluating interventions and legislative impacts, you'll develop your own understanding of effective approaches to reduce reoffending.

You’ll then design and write up a research proposal for a project of your choice.

You’ll start by thinking about any research skills you might need to improve on and develop ways to strengthen your skillset, through core training, chosen focus areas and applied learning.

Then, you’ll work on your own postgraduate research proposal planning out the specific research methods you’ll use and taking ethical issues into account. You’ll include clear objectives and document your literature and data sources.

By exploring theories in victimology that have shaped our understanding of victimisation processes and responses over time, you'll also delve into the complex state-offender-victim relationships through contexts of citizenship and victims' rights.

Core modules

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own literature or empirical topic within a field of criminology that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award.

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your dissertation or report.

Optional modules

Exploring influential techniques like offender profiling and investigative interviewing, you'll see how psychological research informs evidence gathering and analysis.

Through case studies, you'll critically appraise the use of experts and theory-based practices across the investigative process.

This module will deepen your understanding of the complex interplay between psychology and justice systems, making you ready to evaluate and strengthen procedures, policy and outcomes.

You'll consider the concept of ‘missingness’ in an increasingly globalised landscape, and analyse comparative perspectives between jurisdictions and cultures.

You'll gain a holistic appreciation of issues relating to various modes of missingness, including not just the mechanisms of being missing but the reaction to it around the world.

You'll analyse the micro and macro factors that influence the likelihood of victimisation across different groups, from social and political issues relating to diversity, social inequality and power differentials, and the role and responsibility of the state.

You'll also explore the factors that affect the resilience of people who have experienced crime, while evaluating victim-centered policies, cultures and support services.

By the end of the module, you'll demonstrate nuanced understanding of individual and social influences behind victimology, as well as of the partnerships striving to positively shape victims' experiences.

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, course content is revised and regularly reviewed.  This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

Criminal Justice Master's courses

Discover the Master's courses offered by the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Dr Helen Earwaker: Here within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Portsmouth, we run a diverse range of Master's level provision with content aligned to a host of different areas that link to the pursuit of justice. Students can choose to study on campus or through distance learning. Our distance learning courses enable students to learn as part of a diverse online community, balancing their other commitments with their learning.

Dr Helen Earwaker: On campus, we bring learning to life through interactive workshops, immersive learning and through using simulated environments.

Gary [Podcast]: "Hello, everyone, and welcome back. Today we are looking at the case of Simon Flint, who is reported missing by his wife. A missing persons case has been opened and there is an active investigation into his disappearance. There is some intelligence to suggest that Mr. Flint has been involved in fraudulent activity. Four days later, a body believed to be that of Mr. Flint is discovered in an abandoned warehouse.

So now that we've discussed the case, we're going to look at the different theoretical and practical aspects that spanned the disciplines connected with this case. For example, we're going to consider the economic crime and fraud investigation, forensic science and crime science, the application of victimology and psychology, the potential connectivity with cybercrime, and then we're going to see how all of these fit together within the criminal justice system. This is important because these are all the areas that are considered within our MSc provision."

Dr Helen Earwaker: Our MSc provision connects to the research centres that we have within our school and our students benefit from the world-leading research that goes on within these. Research is at the very heart of our MSc teaching with evidence-based practice a core theme throughout our courses. Our students learn in a multidisciplinary and cross-border environment, benefiting from a wide range of perspectives across criminal justice and beyond.

Dr Helen Earwaker: We work closely with partner organisations across the justice sector, enabling our students to combine theory and practice throughout their studies. An MSc within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice will equip you to be evidence informed, forward thinking and to go on to challenge the status quo in the pursuit of justice.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master's prepares you for

Criminal psychology draws on elements of psychology, criminology and criminal justice to study offending behaviour. Its aim is to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations and the way offenders are penalised and rehabilitated, as well as to reduce reoffending.

Victimology is about understanding and helping people when they have become the victim of a crime, exploring the ways society identifies and treats victims, and how to identify individuals who are most vulnerable or at a greater risk of being victimised. 

Studying these two subjects in combination will give you an in-depth understanding of what drives those on both sides of the criminal justice system. Your skills will be invaluable for a career working with offenders or victims of crime, and in understanding the importance of human behaviour and decisions.

You'll graduate with insight into the difference criminal psychology can make solving and preventing crime, and the responsibilities involved in working with victims. Your knowledge will enable you to challenge existing criminal justice processes, policies and legislation, and to make improvements. 

If you already work in the field of criminal justice, you'll be ready to pursue higher-level roles, or to break into a different area of the discipline. If you're preparing to start your career in criminal justice, you'll gain the knowledge and advanced research problem-solving skills you need to stand out to employers and contribute positively to justice system reform.

You could also go on to further study, or progress on to a graduate scheme such as PoliceNow or the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme.

Graduates of this course can go on to roles such as:

  • police or law enforcement officer
  • probation or prison officer
  • data analyst
  • intelligence analyst
  • cybersecurity

Graduates of this course can go on to work for organisations such as:

  • the Civil Service
  • national and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
  • Government agencies and departments internationally
  • probation and prison service
  • the Courts
  • local administration / authorities
  • private security companies
  • charities

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and from our Careers and Employability Centre, which you can access for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support


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Collaboration of Forensic Interviewing Group

Our Collaboration of Forensic Interviewing Group (CoFI) is dedicated to research into interviewing techniques and the issues that affect how information is gathered in a forensic context, including how interviewing systems can be adapted to those deemed most vulnerable.

Depending on the modules you study and your dissertation themes, you'll have access to CoFI's interviewing simulation activities.

Learn more about CoFI

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to spend in online lectures and seminars and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take 2 years (part-time study).

You can expect:

  • 6 hours of live online lectures and/or seminars for each module you study, recorded for those who cannot attend. All core material is available online at all times so you can create your own study schedule around work or other commitments.
  • 9 hours of independent study each week.


Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree.

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • online lectures 
  • online seminars
  • online tutorials
  • online group discussions

This Master's in Criminal Psychology and Victimology is delivered by supported distance learning. You will receive high-quality course materials via Moodle, our online learning environment.

You'll learn through interactive workbooks, discussion boards and live online seminars and lectures. All live sessions are recorded so you can access them whenever suits you. 

You'll get to chat with fellow students, discuss and present your work and keep in touch with tutors. You'll get plenty of support throughout your studies, including help on writing and structuring essays, and how to undertake research.

You'll need access to a computer and a web connection. You may be able to access some of the resources through a tablet or smartphone, with limited functionality. You don't need to be especially computer literate, although typing skills are useful.


You'll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • reports
  • oral presentations
  • projects and portfolios
  • seminar participation and engagement
  • dissertation

You'll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Laura Rose Haggar Portrait

Mrs Laura Haggar

Senior Lecturer

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Read more

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video and phone from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning development tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • Understanding and using assignment feedback
  • Managing your time and workload
  • Revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty 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

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

The Maths Café offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your maths skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

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.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2024 start)

  • Part-time: £4,450 per year

Including the Transition Scholarship for EU students

Part-time: £4,450 per year

Part-time: £4,450 per year

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

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

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

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Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

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Discover your options

Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

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Additional 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 could include:

  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which relate to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

September 2024 start

Qualifications or experience

  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject (Social Science, Humanities, Law, Psychology, or Management subject). Information Technology or science related subjects will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Applicants with equivalent professional experience in a relevant organisation will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English-speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English-speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English-speaking countries will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not 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.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us. 

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. Current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth and international students also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also 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.

Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Part-time, 2 years)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

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.