Forensic psychology student uses heat detection in interview

Mode of Study

Full-time, Part-time

Duration

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date

September 2023

Accredited

Yes

Overview

If you want to apply what you learned through your undergraduate psychology studies to the field of offender behaviour, then this Master's in Forensic Psychology will give you the knowledge and skills to work in the criminal justice system, or train to become a qualified forensic psychologist.

The course brings together the disciplines of clinical, social and cognitive psychology, with criminology and law. You'll address the major issues concerning the justice system in relation to individuals, organisations and society, and when you successfully complete your studies, you'll be able to apply your knowledge in a range of contexts from criminal investigations, to welfare, wellbeing and rehabilitation.

Accredited by the British Psychological Society, the course represents the first of 2 stages of training required to become a Chartered and Registered Forensic Psychologist. 

Psychology at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 5th of all post-1992 universities for research quality

Research Excellence Framework (REF), 2021
Read more about our amazing psychology research

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Application deadline

The deadline for applications for this course is 28 February 2023.

Course highlights:

  • Learn from the largest group of actively researching forensic psychology academics in the UK
  • Use our specialist facilities for interview observation including eye-tracking and digital analysis
  • 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
  • Fulfill stage 1 of 2 stages of training required to become a Chartered and Registered Forensic Psychologist

Accredited by:

 

Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), this 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), necessary for your eventual progression to autonomous practice.

What you'll study on this MSc Forensic Psychology degree course

Full time

All modules on this MSc Forensic Psychology Master's are core.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically assess issues surrounding design and methodology for research in health and/or forensic psychology
    Analyse psychological data using appropriate advanced quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis techniques
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of different research methods and analysis techniques commonly used in health and/or forensic psychology to interpret behavioural data
  • Critically assess published academic literature and synthesise the quality of the evidence base in a chosen area of health and/or forensic research using Systematic Review techniques
  • Identify and find solutions for ethical requirements and problems in health and/or forensic and other research

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate research, theory and applied methodology relevant to authentic case material
  • Make recommendations that reflect best practice in the delivery of individualised interventions and group-based programmes
  • Evaluate and integrate contextual issues in adapting assessment and intervention strategies for specific offender groups and settings
  • Critically appraise the validity and utility of methods and their conceptual underpinnings in the assessment of major antisocial propensities

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate the formulation of research questions and investigative strategy based upon the critical and creative assessment and synthesis of published and unpublished sources of research
  • Show professional practical competence and an understanding of issues and processes in planning and obtaining necessary consents for the research (eg, ethics, resources, access to participants)
  • Systematically implement a research plan to a professional standard of procedure, ethics, and personal conduct
  • Analyse and interpret data in a structured, informed and critical manner, reviewing results against the original research questions, identifying alternative interpretations and limits on the generalisability of conclusions and formulating and justifying recommendations for further research and development
  • Produce a comprehensive and accurate written research report in a clear style, acceptable format and to a professional standard

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Use relevant research, theory and methodological concepts from different areas of psychology in a measured and appropriate manner to support peer feedback on issues in applied forensic contexts
  • Provide appropriate commentaries on the criminal justice process and psychological explanations of behaviour when making recommendations to peers about their interpretation of legal cases
  • Critically evaluate, synthesise and apply psychological research, theory and methods from different branches of psychology (eg, cognitive, social, developmental) to creatively address issues relevant to an applied, forensic context
  • Provide accurate evaluations of the criminal justice process and make informed professional recommendations concerning the role of cognitive, developmental and social psychological factors, where appropriate, that may influence the outcome of legal proceedings

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate and synthesise theories and research, from a range of perspectives, relevant to understanding behavioural and related problems encountered by forensic psychologists
  • Analyse, formulate and derive implications for generating appropriate and creative solutions to the above
  • Communicate a coherent and informed strategy in a structured manner that takes into account the needs of non-psychologists
  • Explore perceptions, decision-making and alternatives through a reflective process based on systematic self-questioning

Explore this module

Part-time

All modules on this MSc Forensic Psychology Master's are core.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate research, theory and applied methodology relevant to authentic case material
  • Make recommendations that reflect best practice in the delivery of individualised interventions and group-based programmes
  • Evaluate and integrate contextual issues in adapting assessment and intervention strategies for specific offender groups and settings
  • Critically appraise the validity and utility of methods and their conceptual underpinnings in the assessment of major antisocial propensities

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Use relevant research, theory and methodological concepts from different areas of psychology in a measured and appropriate manner to support peer feedback on issues in applied forensic contexts
  • Provide appropriate commentaries on the criminal justice process and psychological explanations of behaviour when making recommendations to peers about their interpretation of legal cases
  • Critically evaluate, synthesise and apply psychological research, theory and methods from different branches of psychology (eg, cognitive, social, developmental) to creatively address issues relevant to an applied, forensic context
  • Provide accurate evaluations of the criminal justice process and make informed professional recommendations concerning the role of cognitive, developmental and social psychological factors, where appropriate, that may influence the outcome of legal proceedings

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate and synthesise theories and research, from a range of perspectives, relevant to understanding behavioural and related problems encountered by forensic psychologists
  • Analyse, formulate and derive implications for generating appropriate and creative solutions to the above
  • Communicate a coherent and informed strategy in a structured manner that takes into account the needs of non-psychologists
  • Explore perceptions, decision-making and alternatives through a reflective process based on systematic self-questioning

Explore this module

All modules on this MSc Forensic Psychology Master's are core.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically assess issues surrounding design and methodology for research in health and/or forensic psychology
    Analyse psychological data using appropriate advanced quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis techniques
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of different research methods and analysis techniques commonly used in health and/or forensic psychology to interpret behavioural data
  • Critically assess published academic literature and synthesise the quality of the evidence base in a chosen area of health and/or forensic research using Systematic Review techniques
  • Identify and find solutions for ethical requirements and problems in health and/or forensic and other research

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate the formulation of research questions and investigative strategy based upon the critical and creative assessment and synthesis of published and unpublished sources of research
  • Show professional practical competence and an understanding of issues and processes in planning and obtaining necessary consents for the research (eg, ethics, resources, access to participants)
  • Systematically implement a research plan to a professional standard of procedure, ethics, and personal conduct
  • Analyse and interpret data in a structured, informed and critical manner, reviewing results against the original research questions, identifying alternative interpretations and limits on the generalisability of conclusions and formulating and justifying recommendations for further research and development
  • Produce a comprehensive and accurate written research report in a clear style, acceptable format and to a professional standard

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, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

Forensic psychologists usually start by doing 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. 

Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:

  • Trainee Forensic Psychologist
  • Research Officer
  • Assistant Psychologist
  • Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
  • Probation Practitioner
  • Wellbeing and Recovery Practioner
  • Interventions Facilitator 
  • Resettlement Facilitator
  • Police Staff
  • Mental Health Consultant
  • Support Worker

Graduates of this course have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Ministry of Justice
  • NHS
  • Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service
  • Seetec
  • STR Group
  • Youth Justice Services
  • Motive 8

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.

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Applied projects with companies such as IBM, Boeing and Hampshire County Council
  • 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

Placements and industry connections

There's no formal work placement component of this course, but we encourage and support our students to undertake a research placement with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, to support completion of an empirical research project in forensic psychology.

Visiting speakers and guest experts include representatives from the NHS, the Prison Service, Police, Youth Justice, and the Office for Police and Crime Commissioner.

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 be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

Face-to-face teaching takes place from September to May. Full-time students – and part-time students in your final year of study – will submit your research project in September.

Full-time

  • Full-time students will attend the University on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • We recommend that you allocate 37 hours per week to your postgraduate degree (including independent study), equivalent to a full-time job 

Part-time

  • Part-time students will attend on either a Tuesday or a Thursday, which will then be fixed for the 2 years
  • We recommend that you allocate 18 hours per week to your postgraduate degree (including independent study), equivalent to a part-time job

Teaching

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, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical sessions in labs and studios

Assessment

Assessments have a practical focus and will require you to position yourself as a professional to produce outcomes, including:

  • a court report from the perspective of an expert witness
  • an organisational briefing report from the perspective of an external consultant
  • a case study from the perspective of a practitioner psychologist

You'll also be assessed through:

  • essays
  • oral presentations
  • research dissertation

Teaching staff

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

Dominic Andrew Stuart Pearson Portrait

Dr Dominic Pearson

Reader in Professional Research and Practice in Forensic Psychology

Dominic.Pearson@port.ac.uk

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Alethea Adair-Stantiall Portrait

Dr Alethea Adair-Stantiall

Senior Lecturer

Alethea.Adair-Stantiall@port.ac.uk

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

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

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Facilities and specialist equipment

These are just a few of the facilities you'll use during your forensic psychology degree, plus you'll get priority booking during term time.

Psychology researcher examining eye movement on screen

Eye tracking and VR technology

Discover how eye-tracking and virtual reality (VR) equipment can be used to improve our understanding of interviewing techniques and detecting deception, and used to study areas such as offender behaviours, emotions and cognitions.

Psychophysiology laboratory

Record and analyse physical responses, such as electrical activity in the brain, neural processes, blood pressure and heart rate, to explore how the body reacts to different psychological states.

Thermal cameras

Learn how thermal camera technology can be used to read physiological activity in the face and reveal signs of deception.

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face 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 support 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)
  • 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

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)

  • Full time: £9,900
  • Part time: £3,300 in year 1 and £6,600 in year 2

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £9,900
  • Part-time: £3,300 in year 1 and £6,600 in year 2
  • Full time: £19,200
  • Part time: £6,400 in year 1 and £12,800 in year 2

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.

Explore funding

Funding for international students

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

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for postgraduate taught courses

Discover how you can fund your postgraduate studies 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:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • 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 as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2023 start

  • A good honours degree in Psychology that is recognised by the British Psychology Society as conferring Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).

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, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) 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.

There are always considerably more applicants than places on this course – we usually take 24–30 new students a year but up to 100 applicants. So it pays to strengthen your position as much as possible. 

How well you do in your initial degree counts. So too does taking any opportunities to do modules or a research project relevant to forensic psychology. However, we recognise that sometimes a degree result can be affected by extraneous factors and that not all courses provide the opportunity to study directly relevant aspects. In such circumstances, it’s especially important you demonstrate your commitment and awareness of what the field involves and the best way is through relevant experience. This is important anyway, even if you are strong academically.

Types of experience

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)

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.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

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

Application deadline

The deadline for applications for this course is 28 February 2023.

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.

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

Apply now (full-time)

Apply now (part-time)

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 2021, 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

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 (mail@bps.org.uk) 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

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.

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.