Forensic Psychology (Postgraduate Certificate / Postgraduate Diploma / MSc)

forensic psychology

Study mode

Full-Time or Part-Time


Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham

Accredited by the British Psychological Society, this course will develop the expertise required for a successful career in a forensic psychology setting

Forensic Psychology is a challenging profession which involves working with vulnerable people, both offenders and victims.  For this reason, the emphasis on this course is on building the skills and attributes which will prepare you for this challenge, underpinning your practice with a sound appreciation of academic research evidence and an understanding of the forensic psychologist’s role in the investigative and legal processes, and the assessment and treatment of offenders.

Core to this is the module The Practitioner Forensic Psychologist which gives you the opportunity to develop and critically reflect upon your emerging skills.  For instance, a role-played interview with a mock offender will be videoed, allowing you and your tutors to assess your communication technique and identify the critical incidents in the interview.  You will learn how to engage in reflective practice which is essential to maintaining professional competence and integrity, and through practical exercises you will begin to examine your own assumptions and biases that could affect your work.  You will also explore the ethical, legal, professional and personal dilemmas which can arise in the settings where forensic psychologists work.

This course has a focus on sex offending and you will examine the research evidence on the variety of sexual offenders and offences, and the causes and maintenance of sexual offending. Topics include the prevalence of rape myths, male victims, juvenile offenders, multiple perpetrator sexual offending including leadership, group dynamics and victim resistance, and sexually-motivated murder.  Understanding of these issues then shapes the forensic psychologist’s approach to assessing risk and formulating treatment plans.

The course benefits from contributions from visiting speakers who contribute specialist insights from their work in different forensic settings.  Regular guest lecturers include a senior investigator whose international work with child victims of sex offenders focuses on how to achieve best evidence in different cultural and legal contexts; and an international investigator with expertise of interviewing victims of torture.

Assignments are designed to replicate aspects of a professional forensic psychologist’s workload. For instance, you will use assessment evidence to undertake an offence analysis and, from that, identify treatment targets and develop a case formulation for proposed interventions.  Some modules are assessed by a portfolio of material you build up through practical exercises; these would include reflections on visits to a crown court and a magistrates court, prepared in the form of an audio powerpoint.  While some assignments will take a conventional academic format, we also emphasise the importance of acquiring skills of communicating in different registers -- for instance, to practice how to convey challenging material to a non-expert audience, you are tasked to prepare a textbook chapter on an emerging topic in sexual offending research.

At dissertation stage, students use a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques to explore their professional and academic interests via an independent piece of research.  EEG, virtual reality equipment, and biomarker measurement kit are available to those wishing to undertake experimental studies.  Past and current students have presented their Master’s research at international conferences, on topics including: typologies of solo female sex offenders and solo female murderers; strategies of online grooming; the use of EEG to investigate psychopathy; and football fans’ attitudes towards professional footballers convicted of sexual assault.

Study style

Typically, full-time students study two days a week and part-time students study one day a week. In 2016/17 contact days are Wednesday and Thursday; we do not envisage this changing for 2017/18 but timetabling is still subject to confirmation.

Entry requirements

  • You will need at least a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent in Psychology
  • You will be required to attend an interview
  • You should be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC) of the BPS
  • A strong academic reference
  • International students need IELTS 6.5 overall (no less than 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in any other band) or equivalent.
  • Applicants for this course will be invited to attend an interview.


Fees - 2017/18 Academic Year
Home and EU Students
Masters £6000
Postgraduate Diploma £4000
Postgraduate Certificate £2000
Non-EU Students
Masters £13500
Postgraduate Diploma £9000
Postgraduate Certificate £4500

The fee displayed is the total course fee for full or part-time study. Fees can be paid in instalments over the duration of study with further details available in our tuition fee policy.


The course equips students with skills and practical competencies for a career in forensic settings such as the police, prison and probation services, secure units, special hospitals, the Home Office, or to advance to further academic study and research.

Associated professional accreditations

British Psychological Society


Accredited by the British Psychological Society, you will cover the core areas demanded of Stage 1 registration


Opportunity to specialise in the psychology of sexual offending

Develop specialist knowledge around the commission, investigation and prosecution of sexual offences and the task of the forensic psychologist in assessing and treating offenders.

psychologist talking to client

Develop the skills and personal attributes essential to forensic practice

The programme emphasises the importance of gaining practitioner skills alongside theoretical understanding.  Assessments are designed to replicate tasks faced in professional settings, such as preparing case formulations, conducting interviews and writing journal articles.


Access to a forensic interviewing suite, kit for recording stress biomarkers, and cutting edge technology including EEG and virtual reality equipment

Define your dissertation topic to explore emerging and challenging research questions. For instance, with the expansion of the virtual world, what are the implications for the forensic psychologist—can an avatar be a victim of a sexual assault?


Focus on preparation for careers

Forensic psychologists work in settings such as the police, prison and probation services, secure units, special hospitals, and the Home Office.  We encourage you to gain experience through volunteering with a relevant organisation during your time studying on the course.

Contact us

Find out more about our courses.

+44 (0)3330 141414

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