What can I do with a Criminal Psychology degree?

Discover what careers a degree in BSc Criminal Psychology and MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology can lead to. We’re going to explain the route into Forensic Psychology, and what other graduate opportunities there are.

What is Criminal and Forensic Psychology?

Criminal and Forensic Psychology can be explained as the intersection between psychology and the Criminal Justice System. Specifically, it studies the thought processes, intentions, motivations, and reactions of criminals in the context of their criminal behaviour. 

What do Forensic Psychologists do?

The daily key tasks for forensic psychologists may include implementing treatment programmes aimed at modifying offender behaviour, providing research evidence to support practice, or giving evidence in court plus advising parole boards and mental health tribunals.

Where do Forensic Psychologists work?

The largest single employer of UK-based forensic psychologists is the HM Prison and Probation Service. Forensic psychologists also work in rehabilitation units, secure hospitals, social services, and university departments. Some also go into private consultancy.

"The profession of forensic psychology continues to evolve but one of its continuing challenges is to explain what it really does, as opposed to its more ‘glamourised’ media and journalistic portrayals. Programmes such as Cracker focus on what the producers feel are the more intriguing and exhilarating elements of the role.

It is therefore both to clarify what forensic psychologists can and do contribute in their work, and the range of roles that a forensic psychologist undertakes. In particular, It is important to highlight the wide-ranging benefits it brings to society, not only when working with the perpetrators of offending, but when engaging with forensic organisations, victims, the public and government."

Dr Carol Ireland

Read more about The reality of work as a forensic psychologist

What are the stages of becoming a Forensic Psychologist?

The protected title of Forensic Psychologist is one of seven which includes Clinical Psychologist, Counselling Psychologist (but not counsellor), Educational Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Occupational Psychologist, and Sport and Exercise Psychologists.

To become a Forensic Psychologist you will need to complete the following steps: 

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of BPS (GBC)

Complete a BPS accredited undergraduate degree, or postgraduate conversion, in psychology or a related subject with a minimum of a 2:2 classification.

Stage One

Complete a BPS accredited masters degree which will count as stage one towards your forensic chartership (minimum classifications may apply to enroll onto a postgraduate degree). 

Stage Two

Secure a two-year psychologist in training post. For most protected psychologist titles this training lasts around two years but can be longer. At the end of training, a portfolio will be submitted to the BPS for approval.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

If you successfully complete stage two, an application must be made to the HCPC for registration to become a chartered forensic psychologist. Once this application has been approved, you can then practice. 

What qualities do you need to be a Forensic Psychologist? 

To be a successful Forensic Psychologist, the following personal qualities are advantageous: 

The above qualities are in addition to the professional qualifications required:

Adara smiling wearing hair in a ponytail

I have always had an interest in investigative crime and the motivations for why people commit crime. When I heard of the Criminology Psychology degree, it matched my interests perfectly.

Adara Lloyd
BSc (Hons) Criminal Psychology
Jessica smiling wearing a black top

I've always had an interest in Criminal Psychology as I studied my undergraduate degree in Criminology. I ultimately want to be a clinical psychologist and work with offenders, and studying this degree can help me to achieve my dream.

Jessica Mutti
MSc Forensic and Criminal Psychology

Our degree is informed by the latest theory and research; it's hard work but it will give you a realistic insight into the knowledge and skills needed to succeed within the Criminal Justice System.

A message from the programme leader
Dr Karin Spenser

Careers

It is important to understand that a career as a Forensic Psychologist may take years to reach the stage that you are able to practice. We encourage you to gain as much work experience throughout your degree as possible, so when it is time to apply for your stage two training, you have a variety of experiences in different workplaces and work situations which will help you succeed in gaining a training post.

Please do not be disappointed if your first few applications are not successful, being a Forensic Psychologist is a competitive but worthwhile career.

If you do not wish to become a Forensic Psychologist, you can go onto postgraduate study at Derby to study a masters which is related to your undergraduate degree. These include:

MA Social Work - ideal for those who want to gain the experience and professional capabilities in order to reach the Health and Care Profession Council’s Standards of Proficiency which will entitle you to apply to register as a Social Worker

MSc Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy - accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, this course will help you to further your career and become a BACP accredited and autonomous counselling practitioner. 

MSc Criminal Justice and Criminology- ideal for those who want to work within the Criminal Justice System in areas such as the probation service, the prison service or with youth offending teams

MSc Criminal Investigation - ideal for those who want to work in areas such as financial investigation or as a criminal investigation analyst

Studying the above degrees could then lead to careers such as: 

Working with offenders:

Government roles:

Crime agency:

Mental health roles:

For further information or advice on potential careers, please contact our careers advisor Natalie Hawker by email or telephone