Staff profile

Dr Karin Spenser

Senior Lecturer in Forensic and Criminal Psychology

karin spenser


Social Sciences


College of Business, Law and Social Sciences


Criminology and Social Sciences

Research centre

Human Sciences Research Centre, Better Society


One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus



I am a Senior Lecturer in Forensic and Criminal Psychology. As well as having academic knowledge of this field, I also bring professional experience having worked in the rehabilitation of individuals previously convicted of a sexual offence at one of Europe's largest sex offender treatment facilities. This allows me to bring the 'real-world' into my teaching. In addition, I am aware that psychology has the second biggest gender divide in HE with women outnumbering men by 4:1. I am therefore working with our Widening Access team to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in Forensic and Criminal Psychology.

Teaching responsibilities

I am Programme Leader for the MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology and teach on two of the modules: Forensic Settings and Rehabilitative Interventions and The Legal and Criminal Justice Context of Forensic and Criminal Psychology. In addition, I am Module Leader for a number of BSc (Hons) Criminal Psychology modules including Biological and Social Criminal Psychology, Applied Biological and Social Criminal Psychology, Mentally Disordered Offenders, and Working with Offenders.

Professional interests

As well as being a Chartered Psychologist, I am an experienced Magistrate working in both the adult criminal and family courts. I am also a trustee of The Derby Womens Centre, a charity aiming to help disadvantaged women.

Research interests

I am currently working on two research projects. The first aims to look at women offenders who may have committed their crimes as a result of Intimate Partner Violence (including coercion, retaliation, or self-defence) and the second aims to identify the specific needs of women veterans who, following discharge from active service, suffer emotional adversity and trauma which can make daily life difficult to navigate. Both projects involve national and international collaborations.

Membership of professional bodies


PhD - Nottingham Trent University

My PhD, which was entitled "Socio-Cognitive Determinants of Offending Behaviours" focused on reduced abilities in Theory of Mind, Empathic Understanding, and Moral Reasoning as contributory factors in antisocial and offending behaviours across all ages of male and female offenders.

Recent conferences

Experience in industry

Before moving to the world of academia I worked for the Safer Living Foundation (SLF). The SLF, based in one of Europe's largest sex offender treatment facilities, works on projects that help individuals who have committed sexual offenses reintegrate back into society. Adopting a "Through the Gate" approach, I worked with vulnerable groups (individuals with an intellectual disability, the elderly, or those with very little or no social support and/or who are sexually attracted to children and/or adolescents) who may be a higher risk for up to 18 months following release.

In the media

I recently took part in several episodes of Sky's "How I Caught a Killer" series.

Recent publications