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Forensic Psychology MSc


This course starts in September 2017.

The Forensic Psychology MSc will provide you with a thorough grounding in the theory, themes, issues and practical skills central to psychological research into behaviour relevant to crime and forensic settings.

The programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society as fulfilling the Stage 1 requirements towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist and obtaining Full Membership of the Division of Forensic Psychology with the British Psychological Society. Graduates of the programme who go on to successfully complete Stage 2 of the qualification in Forensic Psychology will be eligible to apply for registration with the UK Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).


forensic_psychology_mscThe course was designed to cover the BPS Division of Forensic Psychology's (DFP) core curriculum. Many experienced forensic psychology practitioners visit the course to contribute their knowledge. It will give you an opportunity to gain an understanding of how psychology works in a forensic setting.

The course has been accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as fulfilling the Stage 1 requirements towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist and obtaining Full Membership of the Division of Forensic Psychology with the British Psychological Society. and a Forensic Psychologist registered with the UK Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). Graduates of the programme who go on to successfully complete Stage 2 of the qualification in Forensic Psychology will be eligible to apply for registration with the UK Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). The requirements for Stage 2 involve a period of supervised practice in a forensic setting. Please see the BPS and HCPC websites for more information.


You will complete the twelve modules listed below. The first five 10-credit modules cover the theoretical basis of forensic psychology across a range of settings, through all stages of the criminal justice process, i.e. from investigation to punishment and through care, and as applied to a broad range of crimes. A double (20-credit) module provides an overview of a key aspect of forensic practice, risk assessment and the associated risk management of offenders. Two further 10-credit modules are particular features of this course and explore the legal process (taught by the Coventry Law School), and practice and application in forensic psychology (involving a number of guest speakers who are practitioners in forensic settings). The latter module is delivered in a four day intensive teaching block in June that provides students with a variety of teaching delivery styles. Two modules (30 credits) cover advanced research methods including both quantitative and qualitative methods, and a further 10 credit module focusing on study skills and project planning prepares students for the final module (50 credits), which is an independent research dissertation/project.

Psychology and Criminal Behaviour (M81PY)

  • What is criminal behaviour?
  • measurement of crime,
  • who commits crime?
  • theories of crime,
  • alternative theories of crime.

Psychology in the Criminal Justice System (M82PY)

  • Eyewitness testimony,
  • children and vulnerable witnesses/suspects,
  • legal decision making,
  • confessions and identification,
  • recovered memory.

Treatment of Offenders and Victims (M144PY)

  • Theory of criminal and civil justice responses to crime,
  • what works when rehabilitating offenders?
  • prison, secure units and therapeutic communities,
  • restorative justice,
  • responses to juvenile and female offenders,
  • victim issues.

Applied Police Psychology (M141PY)

  • Psychology and policing
  • crime analysis,
  • offender profiling,
  • geographic profiling
  • psychological autopsy
  • hostage and crisis negotiation.

Violent and Sexual Crime (M87PY)

  • Theories of violent and sexual crime,
  • child sexual abuse and rape,
  • domestic violence,
  • homicide,
  • stalking,
  • terrorism.

Risk Assessment and Management of Offenders (M143PY)

  • Assessment of risk and protective factors,
  • forensic risk assessment approaches
  • risk assessment methods and tools
  • risk management strategies
  • linking of risk assessment and risk management.

The English Legal Process (M48CLS)

  • Introduction to the criminal justice system,
  • introduction to civil justice systems,
  • expert testimony and legal issues.

Practice and Application in Forensic Psychology (M86PY)

  • Report writing and presentation skills,
  • other practitioner skills,
  • consultancy and project management,
  • ethical codes of conduct,
  • legal and social considerations,
  • other practice based issues.

Advanced Quantitative Research Methods (M140PY)

  • Review of basic research methods and SPSS,
  • experimental (and quasi) designs,
  • psychometric techniques, questionnaire designs and scaling,
  • ANOVA, MANOVA, multiple regression, SEM and path analysis.

Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (M139PY)

  • The quantitative-qualitative debate,
  • thematic analysis,
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis,
  • discourse analysis.

Study Skills, Project Planning and Ethics (M142PY)

  • Academic essay writing,
  • Academic dishonesty and plagiarism,
  • Referencing,
  • Research design and ethics,
  • Reflective practice.

Dissertation (M70PY)

  • Empirical work on a forensic psychology topic,
  • production of literature review and empirical research papers in format suitable for journal article publication.



The course is offered on a full-time basis and students attend university two days per week for one academic year. The course begins at the end of September each year and is completed in mid-September, one year later. Students who do not choose to complete the full MSc may obtain a postgraduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology if they successfully pass the equivalent of 6 single modules (60 credits), or a Diploma in Forensic Psychology if they successfully complete the equivalent of 11 single modules (130 credits) of the course (e.g. if they do not complete the dissertation).


Teaching and Assessment

The course employs an interactive and participative teaching approach, which incorporates the use of Coventry University’s extensive on-line learning resources. A range of assessment methods are used, including essays, practical reports, literature reviews, practice-based reports, oral presentations and examinations. Many of these assessments develop important transferable skills for forensic practice, for example in considering ethical dilemmas, a risk assessment case study and writing papers in formats suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Research Dissertation (MSc level)

The dissertation module is the test of the Master’s degree standard. The purpose of the dissertation module is to contribute substantially to the research training aim that is appropriate to a taught Master’s programme. To achieve this aim the student is required to demonstrate an understanding of the philosophy and principles of research and show competence in the design, execution and reporting of an independent empirical research project in forensic psychology.  Rather than the more traditional dissertation thesis, the project will be written up as two articles, a literature review and an empirical research report, produced in a standard academic journal format.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have a UK degree with a minimum 2:2 degree, or an equivalent, in Psychology. Applicants with lower qualifications but substantial relevant work experience will be considered on an individual basis. Consideration will be given to degrees in relevant subjects such as science or social sciences where relevant psychology modules have been studied.

Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS 6.5 overall, with no component lower than 5.5. Pre-sessional English is available if required.


To find out more about how to apply, click on the Apply For This Course button above. Many of our courses offer a part-time study option. Note that the part-time mode of study is not applicable to international students, unless you hold a relevant visa – please check with the international office.

Please note: we have a range of taught postgraduate awards to suit your needs, from Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma to a full Master's Degree (MA, MBA, MSc, LLM). In most cases you can decide to exit at Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma level, without carrying onto the full Master's qualification.

How will this course enhance my career prospects?

The MSc Forensic Psychology provides career opportunities in a variety of forensic settings, such as the prison, probation and police services, local government and other agencies.  Expected jobs are varied but may include Assistant Forensic Psychologist, Crime Scene Analyst, Prison Psychologist, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, Researcher, Police Analyst, Police Officer and Probation Officer. 

Course alumni have gone on to work in a wide range of settings and roles such as psychological assistants and trainees in a range of settings (including in prisons and mental health settings), probation officers and psychologists within probation, drug support workers, youth offending team staff, police analysts, university lecturers, PhD students, academic researchers and at least one alumnus has set up a new forensic related company.


Centre for Global Engagement logoTo prepare students for the challenges of the global employment market and to strengthen and develop their broader personal and professional skills Coventry University has developed a unique Global Leaders Programme.

The objectives of the programme, in which postgraduate and eligible undergraduate students can participate, is to provide practical career workshops and enable participants to experience different business cultures.

Click here for further details on the Global Leaders Programme.


Further information

If you click on the Order a Prospectus button above, we will send you a printed Postgraduate Prospectus; alternatively you can download a pdf prospectus.

To find out more information about Postgraduate Study at Coventry University, including finance and funding and the benefits of further study, see our Postgraduate Study pages.

Student profile: Madeleine van der Bruggen

I completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology at Coventry University in 2011 and then went on to complete the MSc Forensic Psychology course. The course was appealing due to the lack of Forensic Psychology courses in Holland at the time and I looked forward to the challenge of completing a further postgraduate course in a language different to my native own.


Having completed the course in September 2012, I feel that it was definitely worth the effort, and the course lived up to all of my expectations.  The course consists of academically challenging modules and modules aimed at developing your practical skills that are applicable within a variety of forensic psychology settings.  Learning how to write risk assessments was a particularly interesting and beneficial skill to accrue in relation to working within such settings. The research methods modules were also invaluable, as for the first time, I actually understand how to do quantitative research! In addition to this, the staff are very driven, enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable and possess a personal approach towards students, which I found very helpful when trying to learn a complex subject.


Whilst I was in the process of writing my dissertation, I found a job as a researcher for the Terrence Higgins Trust working on a research project looking at sex work in Warwickshire.  I also gained some experience of rehabilitation work with ex-offenders, and together with my dissertation supervisor I am in the process of working towards the publication of my dissertation.  I have recently obtained a new job working as a research analyst/expert for the Dutch national police, whereby I will be working with the child pornography and exploitation team, and where I will be focusing on offender profiles, interrogation techniques and sexual crime in an international setting.


I feel that the course has given me transferable skills that I can use in my new role and would therefore strongly recommend the course for future students who wish to pursue a career in the field of Forensic Psychology.

Student profile: Laura Williamson

I decided to do my Masters in Forensic Psychology at Coventry University whilst in full time employment as a Psychological Assistant at HMP Lowdham Grange. Although I was aware that this would be hard work, I knew it would help me to develop my ability to work with offenders with complex personalities and diverse offending behaviours. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the course, particularly the law module which I found really interesting. My final empirical paper explored offender readiness and the effectiveness of engagement and motivation strategies within the ‘Thinking Skills Programme’; a prison offending behaviour programme. I was able to take the findings from my paper back into the prison and use these to improve design and implementation of the programme and develop innovative methods to motivate and engage offenders.  I chose to consider a speciality area for my final literature review surrounding a particular interest of mine; deaf offenders. My literature review examined the disproportionate prevalence of sexual offences amongst deaf offenders and this paper has recently been accepted for publication in the Journal of Sexual Aggression. I was able to use aspects of all modules studied in my day-to-day work at the prison and through the research methods and final dissertation modules I was able to develop my ability to design, evaluate and write reports to a high standard.  The course also enabled me to develop my presentation skills which has had a huge impact on my career progression. My career has taken various unexpected, yet positive turns since completing my masters and I went on from HMP Lowdham Grange to work as a substance misuse therapist in a therapeutic community at HMP Wymott. I worked there for a year and then applied for a Researcher position for the fourth largest drug and alcohol provider in the UK. Now, as the lead researcher for Phoenix Futures, I combine my academic and practical knowledge of forensic psychology and research methods to develop treatment within prisons and communities to help people who are dependent on drugs and alcohol to transform their lives.  I believe that my experience on the MSc Forensic Psychology course has helped me to excel in a variety of different occupational environments and has provided me with a number of transferable skills which will benefit me throughout my career.
Course code:
  • 1 year full-time

  • Postgraduate Degree (MBA / MSc / MA / MPA)

Course type:
  • Full time


Contact Details:

International Office

+44 (0) 24 7765 2152