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Mode of Study

Part-time by distance learning


2 years part-time by distance learning

Start date

September 2023


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

What you'll study on this MSc Criminal Psychology and Victimology degree

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 take all core modules.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Identify the various theoretical dimensions of understanding the causes of offending behaviour through a psychological lens.
  • Think independently and analytically about the subject area.
  • Locate, access and engage with information pertinent to the subject area.
  • Critically consider how knowledge of offending behaviour informs working with offenders in the criminal justice system.
  • Critically develop and further intellectual curiosity for the subject area.

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What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate an understanding and ability to distinguish between methodologies in social science research.
  • Demonstrate critical understanding around the conduct of ethical social research.
  • Demonstrate in-depth and systematic understanding about locating and synthesising existing academic literature in the chosen field of research using electronic bibliographic databases.
  • Summarise and critically review conceptual features of an existing study including the effectiveness of a research question(s), aim(s), objectives and methodology.
  • Use existing studies to develop own area of research interest in the form of a dissertation project.

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What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically explore the academic discipline of victimology and the influence of competing theoretical perspectives upon our understanding of the processes of victimisation and how this informs both formal and informal responses to victims of crime.

  • Analyse contemporary and often controversial debates concerning the complex relationships between the state, the offender and the victim, particularly within the wider context of citizenship and the notion of victims' rights.

  • Critically appreciate the development of victim-centred policies and demonstrate an up to date knowledge of the relevant policies and legislation.

  • Critically examine the impact of victim-centred reforms upon criminal justice professional cultures and practices, and to identify the barriers which may impede the implementation of policies and legislation as intended.

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Core modules

You'll do all core modules.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Synthesise new and existing knowledge to generate ideas and develop creative solutions to the benefit of society, within a small-scale research project within a chosen field.

  • Design, apply and critically evaluate research methodologies within the chosen subject area, demonstrating a commitment to ethical practice.

  • Conduct a systematic, methodologically and ethically sound research process (literature based or empirical research).

  • Manage and reflect upon own learning and be able to communicate in a range of forms to audiences relevant to the academic and/or workplace community.

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Optional modules

You can do one optional module.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss and reflect on the potential contributions of psychological research and theory in the criminal justice arena.
  • Think independently, analytically and creatively on the application of psychology to the criminal justice system; from investigation to the courtroom.
  • Synthesize and engage new and existing knowledge of the role of psychology in criminal justice policy and procedure.

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What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • To critically compare jurisdictional and regional narratives and debates relating to missing persons.
  • To be able to identify and critically discuss a range of issues relevant to missing persons over time, both conceptual and practical.
  • To identify and critically analyse sources from official and academic outlets discussing missing persons issues globally.

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key concepts of vulnerability, risk and resilience.
  • Identify the factors associated with risk, to understand and be aware of the tools used to assess risk and the mechanisms and partnerships developed to manage risk.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding and awareness of the complex individual and social factors which influence vulnerability and risk.
  • Demonstrate an up to date knowledge and understanding of victim-centred policies and legislation and the impact upon professional cultures and practices.
  • Critically analyse contemporary developments in the provision of support services to assist victims to cope and recover, identifying best practices and collaborative partnerships.

Explore this module

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.

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


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 your learning

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 2023 start)

  • Part-time: £4,250 per year

Including the Transition Scholarship for EU students

Part-time: £4,250 per year

Part-time: £4,250 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.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

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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Explore funding

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

Discover how you can fund your Master's study at Portsmouth – including loans, scholarships and bursaries – and read our guidance on topics like how to budget, and how to get support if you're disabled or have dependents.

Explore funding

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 2023 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?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

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 2022, 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.