Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years

UK/EU fee

£875 per 20 credits* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,700 for the full programme (2020/21)

Course level




Start date



One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus

Course description

This postgraduate degree will equip psychology graduates with the academic knowledge and skills they need to conduct practical work and research within a forensic context.

During the course, you will be encouraged to undertake a minimum of 30 hours volunteering to gain real life experience in a related field, as well as to obtain practical insights into forensic and criminal psychology. 

The culmination of the MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology is the research project which will enable you to tailor your learning to reflect your own specific area of professional interest and your career aspirations. To support your work on your research project, you will develop skills in collecting and analysing data relevant to forensic and criminal psychology. You will also use a range of techniques and research methods applicable to advanced scholarship in the discipline.

On successful completion of the course, you may continue your training to become a Forensic Psychologist, or pursue a career in sectors such as the prison and probation services, crime analysis or education.


The MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), thereby accounting for Stage 1 of the qualification for those who already hold Graduate Basis of Chartership (GBC) with the BPS.

Qualifying as a Forensic Psychologist 

Gaining a BPS accredited MSc is the first step (stage 1) towards becoming a Forensic Psychologist. The next step (stage 2) is to complete approved applied training; one route is the Qualification in Forensic Psychology provided by the BPS. The Qualification in Forensic Psychology is the independent route to training as a forensic psychologist. To find out more about the stage 2 qualification, please visit the British Psychological Society website.

Members of our Division of Forensic Psychology look at the career path of a forensic psychologist and the achievements of forensic psychology

What you will study

The MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology consists of 180 credits which will be completed in a single year. Each module is compulsory, although the research project allows you to tailor your learning to your own area of interest.

Advanced Quantitative Research Methods (20 credits)

The focus of this module is quantitative research of relevance to forensic and criminal psychology. To help you design, conduct and evaluate research within science, you must draw upon a variety of quantitative research methods, assess the appropriateness of different research designs and employ a range of analytical approaches including advanced statistical techniques. You should also be able to interpret the findings in order to draw appropriate conclusions in relation to specific hypotheses and research questions. On this module, you will gain a critical understanding of quantitative research methods and advanced statistical techniques used for different types of research design. You will also consider how statistical tests are performed and analysed using software packages and how the resulting data are interpreted and reported. 

The Psychology of Crime, Criminal Behaviour, and Victimology (20 credits)

By the end of this module, you should have gained the knowledge and skills to progress to working with a range of client groups including different types of offenders, patients and at-risk individuals; victims / survivors; individuals across the lifespan (including children and young people in conflict with the law); males and females; professionals, groups and organisations

Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (20 credits)

This module introduces a range of qualitative methods used within contemporary scientific inquiry. In order to design, conduct and evaluate research within science, you must be able to draw on a variety of qualitative research methods and assess their appropriateness, employ a range of analytical techniques and be able to interpret findings to draw appropriate conclusions. The module will provide you with a critical understanding of various qualitative research methods and their related epistemological backgrounds. You will also gain insights into a range of data generation techniques and will consider how the resulting data are interpreted and reported.

The legal and criminal justice context of forensic psychology (20 credits)

This module enables you to demonstrate a critical understanding of psychological theories and evidence relevant to processes in the justice system, including the legal framework of the civil and criminal justice systems; processes of investigation; the legal process; the process of detention; working with litigants, appellants, and individuals seeking arbitration and mediation; and interdisciplinary and multi-agency working. In addition, the tutorials that accompany this part of the course facilitate your emotional and cognitive development as you progress towards your professional career.

Forensic Settings and Rehabilitative Interventions (20 credits)

At the end of this module, you should be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the range of interventions available for offenders, patients and at-risk individuals, victims/survivors, professionals, groups and organisations. You should understand different approaches and be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches to inform the selection of appropriate interventions. You should also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions.

Forensic Assessment (20 credits)

The first outcome of this module is that you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to progress to working within a range of settings and contexts relevant to forensic and criminal psychology, including prisons; secure units; hospitals; mental health; police; courts (including criminal, family and civil); community settings; charities and social enterprises. You should have an understanding of organisational culture and systems, and the ways in which these impact on the practice of forensic and criminal psychologists and other professionals. The second outcome of the module is that you should be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of different approaches to assessment and formulation in relation to individuals, groups and/or organisations. You should also demonstrate a familiarity with the processes and tools of assessment in line with the particular focus offered by your programme. 

Independent Study (60 credits)

The purpose of the independent studies module is to build upon your existing knowledge and understanding of forensic and criminal psychology. Informed by current scholarship and research, it will develop your critical awareness of the latest issues and developments within the discipline. By focusing on a supervised empirical research project (including an extended literature review) and a self-reflective portfolio, you will:

  • Propose a suitable area for research; demonstrating its potential scope and appropriateness through an extended literature review 
  • Consider a range of techniques and research methods, applicable to psychological enquiry, and select the most suitable
  • Apply relevant ethical, legal, and professional practice frameworks and boundaries, as set by the university and the BPS
  • Gather and critically evaluate relevant evidence and / or data, drawing feasible conclusions and recommendations
  • Disseminate your work appropriately in the form of a professional report. 

You will also produce a portfolio which critically reflects on and synthesises one of the following:

  • your research journey as noted above
  • your volunteering experiences (if opted for in semester two)
  • one or more of your forensic setting visits taken during semester one and two.

All of which will be used to inform your developing professional identity as a forensic and criminal psychologist.

Please note that we are continually developing the content of this course to ensure that it is relevant, up to date and matches our students’ future ambitions.

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

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Postgraduate Live Online Events

While we’re not able to welcome you in person to our campuses at the moment, we’re not going to let that stop us showing you all the great things about studying at Derby.

We’re currently planning our autumn Open Events to bring you the best possible online and on-campus experience.

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How you will learn

The MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology is delivered primarily through lectures, interactive workshops and discussions, small group teaching, and one-on-one supervision.

You will also benefit from a number of outings and visits, as well as guest lectures by prominent figures in the world of forensic and criminal psychology.

How you will be assessed

Assessments will be diverse in format and may include: 

Who you'll meet

The expertise of our course team reflects the way the MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology blends research and practical experience. You will be taught and supported by forensic practitioners and academics with considerable experience of working with offenders and victims in a range of forensic contexts in the UK.

From a variety of backgrounds and offering a strong emphasis on practice and applied research, the team includes:

Course Director: Professor Ray Bull

Programme Leader: Dr Karin Spenser

Module Leaders: 

Who will teach you

karin spenser

Dr Karin Spenser
Programme leader

Karin Spenser is a Lecturer in Criminal Psychology and has both academic and professional experience in forensic psychology. From an academic perspective, her focus is on quantitative research methods, the paradigms of psychology, working with offenders, and mentally disordered offenders.

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Entry requirements

You will need a British Psychological Society (BPS) recognised undergraduate degree (minimum 2.1) in Psychology (or equivalent) that confers Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the Society. 

Those whose qualification does not confer GBC may also apply and an undergraduate degree (minimum 2.1) is similarly required. However, to be eligible for Chartered Membership (CPsychol) of the Society and full membership of the Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP), the GBC is a requirement. 

Applicants whose undergraduate degree is a 2.2 should contact the Programme Leader. 

You are required to provide one academic and one vocational reference. 

Final selection may be subject to an interview with members of the course team.

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees (August 2020 - July 2021)


£875 per 20 credits*

£875 per 20 credits*


£14,700 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

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International student scholarship

We're offering a £2,000 scholarship for all eligible international students studying a full-time postgraduate taught programme (PGT). Terms and conditions apply.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply


Students generally choose the MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology because they wish to pursue a career in Forensic Psychology. 

Forensic Psychologists work across many agencies within the criminal justice system, primarily in prison and probation services, secure hospitals, the police, and the courts in roles such as:

Please note that it is possible to obtain GBC status after you have completed the MSc by undertaking a BPS-accredited conversion course such as our online Postgraduate Diploma Psychology.

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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