Forensic Psychology and Mental Health MSc

Study level: Postgraduate
A student sits on a bunk bed in a mock prison cell in the Alison Gingell Building.

This course – offered on-campus and 100% online - has been designed to cover the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology's (DFP) core curriculum. It also has a specific emphasis on mental health issues in forensic populations and the role of psychologists working in forensic mental health settings.

Year of entry



Coventry University (Coventry)
100% online study

Study mode



1 year full-time (on-campus)
2 years part-time (online)

Course code

HLST191 (on-campus)
HLST253 (online)

Start date

September 2024
January 2025

Course overview

The on-campus full-time course starts in September, the online part-time course starts in January.

The course is designed to meet the requirements for stage 1 towards becoming a Chartered Forensic Psychologist (for students who also have the required Graduate Basis for Chartership). It is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in the theory, themes, issues and practical skills we consider to be central to forensic psychology and forensic mental health settings. Please see the Accreditation section for further information.

  • It covers diverse topics such as the theoretical basis of forensic psychology across a range of settings, through all stages of the criminal justice process. However, there is a specific focus on mental health and offending.
  • The aim of the course is, upon successful completion, for you to have gained an understanding of the influence mental health can have on how people think, feel and act, as well as the opportunity to consider how our criminal justice system can respond to people committing crime, and those being victimised.
  • Our teaching and learning is designed to encourage your participation and deepen your understanding of specific subjects. For example, by debating and discussing topics such as the effectiveness of prison in reducing reoffending behaviour and the ethics associated with risk assessment.
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Why you should study this course

In 2017, the National Audit Office estimated that 10% of the prison population in England was receiving treatment for a mental health problem. Further, that 37% of people in prison had reported mental health problems to HM Inspector of Prisons. In this course, you will have the opportunity to study the types of mental health disorders commonly found in prisons and be taught how to assess and work with individuals in forensic settings, including understanding appropriate treatment programmes and the psychological challenges that can be faced by staff working in the Prison Service.

  • Our current staff have many years of combined, varied professional psychological experience, either as British Psychological Society Chartered/Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered Members themselves, and/or as active researchers (staff may be subject to change).
  • The campus-based course is delivered full-time over one year, starting in September. The online course is studied part-time over two years, starting in January. The 100% online part-time course, delivered over two years, is a flexible option for those with work and/or family commitments. As the course is delivered solely online, with assessment deadlines made available at the start of the course, you have more control around your weekly study timetable. Many of our online students work or have other commitments they need to juggle. For others, online delivery better suits their preferred ways of learning in terms of pace, ability to go back to learning resources, and flexibility.
  • There is also a sister course, Forensic Psychology MSc, which is also available campus-based or online. Five core mandatory modules will be delivered alongside students on this course. Additionally, three mandatory pathway modules are then delivered separately to students on the Forensic Psychology and Mental Health MSc to specialise the content and differentiate them from the Forensic Psychology MSc course. It is therefore important to read all course webpages related to the different pathways and compare the specific topic areas covered, to ensure you apply for the most appropriate course for you.
  • You will have the opportunity to gain a CMI Level 7 Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice, upon successful completion of the relevant module.

Accreditation and professional recognition

This course is accredited1 and recognised by the following professional bodies:

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society

This course is currently accredited by BPS (British Psychological Society). If any changes occur with respect to our accreditation, we will seek to notify applicants and students as soon as possible.

The course is designed to fulfil Stage 1 requirements towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist (for students who also have the required Graduate Basis for Chartership). This means students also need to have an accredited undergraduate psychology degree to go on to be eligible for Chartership, or have completed an accredited conversion course prior to commencement of the MSc. For full details please visit the BPS website.

To be awarded an accredited degree, graduates must achieve a minimum of 50% pass mark on first attempt for all modules contributing to the accredited MSc degree (British Psychological Society Standards for the Accreditation of the Masters Programme in Forensic Psychology). Any subsequent attempts are capped at 40%. Graduates who do not meet this requirement will exit with a non-accredited award. To achieve the necessary number of credits for all non-accredited awards, graduates must achieve a minimum of 40% pass mark for all modules contributing to the award.

Chartered Management Institute

Chartered Management Institute

As part of this course, you will undertake a professional development module which is currently accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. Upon successful completion of this module, you will gain the CMI Level 7 Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice at no additional cost.

The online version of the degree allowed me to continue working in full-time employment whilst continuing to study. The format is flexible and allowed me to plan around my other commitments. I would not hesitate to recommend this course to any student who wishes to advance their knowledge and skills in Forensic Psychology, especially given its quality and flexibility towards students that cannot commit to a full-time course of study. I believe that the course would provide good employability prospects either as a professional in psychology, or the transferable skills for other professions.

David Adlington-Rivers, Forensic Psychology and Mental Health (online) MSc student, quoted in 2023
A student talking to another student in a mock prison cell on-campus.

What you'll study

The content and assessment strategies are the same on the full-time campus-based and part-time online versions of the course. On the full-time version, all eight modules are studied in one year, whereas four per year are studied on the part-time online version.

Five core modules are shared with Forensic Psychology MSc. However, there are three specialised pathway modules which differentiate the courses. It is important to read both course webpages and compare the specific topic areas covered to pick the most appropriate course to apply for.


  • This module will cover the contribution psychology has made to our understanding of criminal behaviour, with psychological theories examined and evaluated in an attempt to understand how these are situated in the real-world context and applied and used in forensic case formulations.


  • You will have the opportunity to study the contribution psychology has made to our understanding of mental health disorders in forensic client groups (e.g. different types of offending, patients and at risk individuals, victims/survivors, individuals across the life span).


  • The aim of this module is to consider professional and practice issues in forensic mental health and how they impact on the work carried out by forensic psychologists across different client groups with mental health issues.


  • This module is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in the underpinning theory and methods of risk assessment and risk management utilised within forensic settings.


  • This module seeks to provide you with a general awareness and understanding of comparative law and the legal systems (e.g. inquisitorial vs. adversarial systems). This module is aimed at enabling you to appreciate the nature and functions of the criminal and civil justice systems, as well as the distinctions between them.


  • This module aims to provide direct practical experience of how to design, conduct and report quantitative and qualitative research in forensic psychology. The module is intended to provide an interconnected understanding of research methods and designing projects, with the aim of enabling you to progress the conceptual understanding necessary to develop research proposals. The course is also designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge required to summarise, analyse and present research findings relevant to the subject area.


  • The aim of the dissertation is to give you the opportunity to engage in supervised but independently undertaken empirical research (following successful ethical approval through the Coventry University ethics process) at an advanced level. You will be encouraged to integrate and practice the skills that you should have acquired during the course and to investigate, at master’s level, an area of specific interest to you.


  • You will have the opportunity to learn how to critically evaluate and develop solutions to complex, inter-related and multi-faceted issues that can be found in a variety of organisations and professional contexts.


We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

Our teaching and learning strategy is designed to encourage your participation and deepen your understanding of specific subjects, for example, by debating and discussing contemporary topics, such as the role of mental health in offending behaviour, and the ethics associated with incarceration. Alongside this curriculum, your course will also provide you with an opportunity to develop what we consider to be a range of globally relevant practice-based transferable skills, including effective communication and dissemination, criticality, reflection, synthesis, and evaluation of ethical issues. The module design covers these essential elements of skills development whichever mode of study suits you best.

Study on campus – September start

On the full-time, on-campus version of the course, teaching and learning follows the traditional campus-based model of delivery, including face to face lectures and the expectation of full attendance during term-time.

The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, online classes and tutorials and independent study and learning. If you are someone who wants to immerse yourself in the student experience on campus, on a full-time basis and take advantage of everything Coventry has to offer, then this is the mode of delivery for you.

On-campus learning consists of ‘face-to-face’ teaching time and other campus-based activity that will normally take place two days per week over one year. This is usually up to six hours of classroom time a week, depending on the semester you are in. In addition, you will have 10 hours of one-to-one supervision across the year, to support you with your empirical project and guide your studies. You will have access to recorded content, have directed reading and be required to engage in independent study. You will be studying for 60 credits per semester.

Please note that each module credit requires 10 hours of study, thus a 20-credit module requires 200 hours of study. This includes campus-based teaching and independent study. Self-directed study includes completing the recommended reading that accompanies your lectures and working on coursework assignments. This is a full-time course that requires full engagement for success. We recommend anyone with significant commitments outside the university to consider studying the part-time online course.

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Study 100% online – January start

All teaching and learning materials are provided online, in a semesterised and structured format, over a two-year period. Our current staff have experience in delivering high quality online provision and understand how online learning is substantially different when compared with face-to-face courses (staff may be subject to change).

Online content and library access is provided, and there is the opportunity to be part of a learning community in order to discuss topics online with course tutors, as well as access resources, including online journals and ebooks, through the library. Students are encouraged to engage with each other in online forums and share formative learning opportunities together to enhance the experience.

In addition, you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor, who will be your first point of contact in the course team. You will be allocated 10 hours of dissertation supervision over the two years, to help you navigate your independent research project.

Please note that each module credit requires 10 hours of study, thus a 20-credit module requires 200 hours of study including engaging with online materials and independent study. You will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of an average of approximately 17 hours each week. However, this will vary depending on the demands of individual modules with some requiring more self-directed study, some less. Self-directed study includes online engagement with the learning materials, recommended reading that accompanies your learning, and working on coursework assignments. There is no requirement for students studying this course to attend campus. This is a part-time course that runs over a period of two years. We recommend this option for anyone with significant commitments outside the university. Request further information about part-time study.

Part-time students study the following modules in year one: Ethics and Research Methods in Forensic Psychology; Risk Assessment and Management in Forensic Settings; Leading and Creating Organisational Health and Wellbeing; and Mental Health Disorders in Client Groups. In year two the following modules are studied: Forensic Clinical Assessment and Case Formulation; Professional Practice in Forensic Mental Health; The Legal Process; and Dissertation Module.

How online learning works

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


During the course you will study a range of mandatory modules that carry between 10 and 40 credits each, and then complete a 40-credit dissertation. You will be assessed using approaches such as case studies, risk assessment report, video log, reflective practice, literature review and empirical reports. Some of the assessments have elements linked to real world tasks. We aim to provide guidance on how to tackle each assessment during the course.

For an MSc award, you are required to complete 180 credits, including the 40-credit dissertation. i.e. you must pass all modules on the Forensic Psychology and Mental Health MSc to achieve this qualification. As the course is accredited (subject to approval – see Accreditation section for further information) graduates must achieve the necessary 50% pass mark for all modules contributing to achieve a BPS-accredited MSc degree (BPS Standards for the Accreditation of the Masters’ Programme in Forensic Psychology and Crime MSc, October 2017). Any subsequent attempts are capped at 40%. Graduates who do not meet this requirement will exit with a non-accredited award Forensic Psychology and Mental Health Studies MSc. To achieve the necessary number of credits for all non-accredited awards, graduates must achieve the necessary Coventry University 40% pass mark for all modules contributing to the award.

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.

Applicants should hold the equivalent of a minimum 2:2 undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Consideration will be given to applicants who hold the equivalent of a minimum of 2:2 undergraduate degrees in Science or Social Sciences where a minimum of 50% of undergraduate study is in Psychology with evidence of studying a curriculum including research methods. Such non-standard applications will be subject to approval by the Course Director.

We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

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Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:

You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.

Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.

Typical requirements

Applicants should hold the equivalent of a minimum 2:2 undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Consideration will be given to applicants who hold the equivalent of a minimum of 2:2 undergraduate degrees in Science or Social Sciences where a minimum of 50% of undergraduate study is in Psychology with evidence of studying a curriculum including research methods. Such non-standard applications will be subject to approval by the Course Director.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall, with no component lower than 5.5

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

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Fees and funding

2024/25 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,350   £9,350  
EU £9,350 per year with EU support bursary**
£18,600 per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £18,600   £18,600  

For advice and guidance on tuition fees3 and student loans visit our Postgraduate Finance page.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.


As part of the School of Psychological, Social and Behavioural Sciences, the on-campus course will take place at our Coventry University main campus4.

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The Library

You will benefit from our support designed to help you succeed and our industry-relevant teaching and resources. These include our modern library and computing facilities, dedicated careers advice and Your Students’ Union.

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Jaguar Centre

The Jaguar Centre has been specifically designed to provide facilities and services to support our postgraduate students including social spaces, computer suites and separate areas for small group study.

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The Hub

The Hub is the centre of student campus life. It's also home to the Health and Wellbeing Centre, the Spirituality and Faith Centre, the Tank Studio, Student Success Coaches and the Enterprise Hub.

Careers and opportunities

Developed with a focus on your future employability, the highly practical nature of the course is intended to help you develop many of the core skills we consider to be necessary for effective practice.

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of how psychology can be applied to a range of criminal justice, legal, and forensic settings and client groups (including forensic mental health settings)
  • Demonstrate competence in applying psychological knowledge and skills (e.g., critical evaluation) to practice-based scenarios in forensic psychology in mental health settings
  • Demonstrate reflective and critical understanding of themselves as future practitioners in forensic mental health settings
  • Demonstrate and consolidate a range of transferable and professional skills that are applicable to a range of forensic practice settings with a particular focus in forensic mental health
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of psychological research paradigms, research methods, ethical procedures, data analyses, psychological literature evidence and theory
  • Critically evaluate the principles for leading and developing people and a culture of organisational health and wellbeing.

According to the British Psychological Society, the largest single employer of forensic psychologists in the UK is the HM Prison Service. Psychologists can also be employed in rehabilitation units, secure hospitals, social services, university research and in private consultancy.

There are two stages to becoming a practising Forensic Psychologist and Chartered Member of the BPS, requiring a combination of professional education and practice. In the first instance, you need the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC), followed by an accredited master’s in forensic psychology, such as this course (subject to approval – see Accreditation section for further information).

The second stage requires a minimum of two years of supervised practice and successful completion of Stage 2 of the BPS Qualification in Forensic Psychology before you are eligible to register with the HCPC and use the title of ‘Forensic Psychologist’.

You may also be interested in other relevant roles across the criminal justice system such as crime scene analyst; trainee forensic psychologist; trainee clinical psychologist; behavioural investigative advisor; lecturer in forensic psychology; Home Office, local government or police researcher; police officer; youth offending team worker; or probation officer.

Where our graduates work

Some of our previous Forensic Psychology and Mental Health MSc graduates have gone on to further study, or into Stage 2 of the BPS Qualification in Forensic Psychology. Other graduates have gone on to work for HMPPS, including a range of prison settings such as those dedicated to rehabilitation of people convicted of various offences.

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2024/2025 contract is available on the website. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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