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Forensic Psychology (MSc/PgD/PgC)

Course Description

Course Overview

The MSc Forensic Psychology is the only BPS accredited programme in Wales, offering a unique opportunity for students to study Forensic Psychology in Wales. Working collaboratively with NOMS Cymru (National Offender Management Services, Wales), helps keep the programme up to date with strategy development and policy decisions. Regular contributions from practitioners within the Principality enable students to understand more about services within Wales and their impact on our society locally. We also have many national contributors who share their extensive knowledge and experience.​

Due to the popularity of this programme you should submit your application at the earliest opportunity, and at the very latest by 29th July. ​

See the website https://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/health/courses/Pages/Forensic-Psychology---MSc-.aspx

​Course Content​​

Forensic Psychology is the practice and application of psychological research relevant to crime, policing, the courts, the criminal and civil justice system, offenders, prison, secure settings, offender management, health and academic settings as well as private practice.

It looks at the role of environmental, psychosocial, and socio-cultural factors that may contribute to crime or its prevention. The primary aim of Forensic Psychology as an academic discipline is to develop understanding of the processes underlying criminal behaviour and for this improved understanding to impact on the effective management and rehabilitation of different groups of offenders in all settings within the criminal justice system.

The first aim of the programme is to provide students with a thorough and critical academic grounding in the evidence relating to environmental, cultural, cognitive and biological factors that may contribute to a wide variety of forms of offending. The programme will encourage students to consider the role and limitations of causal explanations for offending in the development of offender treatments, services and policy.

The second aim of the programme is to introduce students to the basic professional competencies for working in the many settings where forensic psychology is practiced, including skills related to inter-disciplinary working, risk assessment, ethics, continuing professional development, report writing and differences in practice when working with offenders, victims, the courts and the police.

The programme aims to produce Masters degree graduates with the ability to understand the limitations of the conceptual underpinnings of interventions and assessments used in forensic psychology and who are able therefore to engage in critical evaluation of the evidence base upon which their own practice will eventually be based. The programme will specifically avoid providing any formal supervised practice. Its aim is to produce reflective scientist-practitioners who will be ready to engage with the next stage of training (i.e. BPS Stage 2 or HCPC route) towards registration as a Forensic Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Students will complete the following taught modules and will also be required to conduct a novel, supervised research dissertation with participants preferably drawn from a forensic setting:

Research Methods and Design (30 credits)
The aim of this module is to extend students knowledge and experience of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Topics covered include: randomised control trials, ANOVA, ANCOVA, MANOVA, Power analysis, Regression, Non parametric methods, interviews, discourse analysis, grounded theory, reflective analysis and psychometric evaluation.

Forensic Mental Health (20 credits)
This module aims to provide students with a critical examination of the relationship between mental illness, personality disorder, learning disability and criminal behaviour. The module will encourage students to view the mental health needs of offenders in the broadest possible context and to appreciate the inter-disciplinary nature of services available to mentally disordered offenders, difficulties in accessing those services and problems for custodial adjustment presented by specific psychiatric diagnoses

Professional Practice and Offender Management (20 credits)
The focus of this module is the professional practice of forensic psychology. The module builds on the groundwork laid by earlier modules and covers professional skills and the types of interventions that a practicing forensic psychologist may engage in. The topics covered by this module include ethics, report writing, working with other agencies, and working with offenders and victims.

Psychological Assessments and Interventions (20 credits)
This module covers psychology as it may be applied to the reduction of re-offending by convicted criminals. The central focus of the module is the 'what works' literature. A range of topics will be covered demonstrating the broad application of psychology to offender rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System, and within Wales particularly. These topics include: (1) Offender assessment: risk, need and protective factors (2) factors affecting response to treatment; (3) ethical issues of compulsory treatment; and (4) interventions for a range of offending behaviours.

Theories of Criminal Behaviour (10 credits)
The module aims to examine the contribution made by biological, psychodynamic, evolutionary, cognitive and socio-cultural perspectives to our understanding of the aetiology of criminal behaviour. It will explore psychological theories of a variety of offending behaviours such as: violence, aggression, domestic abuse, sex offending, vehicle crime, fire setting as well as gangs and gangs membership.

Legal Psychology (10 credits)
This module covers psychology as it may be applied to the law, and the central focus of the module is evidence. A range of topics will be covered, demonstrating the broad application of psychology within the legal system. These topics include the interviewing of suspects and witnesses, vulnerable victims, offender profiling and the detection of deception.

Addiction and Psychological Vulnerabilities (10 credits)
This module informs students about different factors that may contribute to psychological vulnerability in offenders and victims. A variety of topics will be covered, including issues around the concept of addictive behaviours, vulnerability and the protection of vulnerable adults, including factors which may increase vulnerability to offending and victimisation.

Learning & Teaching​

​Teaching on the MSc Forensic Psychology Programme is predominantly conducted in small groups and adopts an interactive approach. The Research Methods and Design module and the Dissertation workshops are the only part of the programme which is taught in a larger group of around 40 to 50 students as opposed to between 10 and 20 students on the core modules. As a result teaching involves a range of discussions, activities, evaluations of papers, case studies and role play exercises. The focus within the programme is on both content and key skills to develop specialists in the field of forensic psychology with flexible generic skills. These experiences also help to foster student development and confidence as independent life-long learners.

Student learning is promoted through a variety of learning and teaching methods. These include: lectures, workshops, online learning through the virtual learning environment, Moodle, as well as self directed learning. Each student will have an allocated personal tutor to support them through their period of study.

As this programme is accredited by the BPS, there is a requirement for students to attend at least 80% of the taught sessions for the programme.


The MSc is assessed by a range of different coursework assignments – e.g. presentations, reports, essays, reflective reports, academic posters, research proposal. There are no examinations.

Employability & Careers​

An MSc in Forensic Psychology is the first step (stage one) in gaining Chartered Psychologist status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Registered Practitioner status with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). The MSc in Forensic Psychology will provide the knowledge base and applied research skills that will provide the foundation for stage two of the chartered process that requires a minimum of two years of full-time supervised practice with an appropriate client group.

Find information on Scholarships here https://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/scholarships

Find out how to apply here https://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/howtoapply

Visit the Forensic Psychology (MSc/PgD/PgC) page on the Cardiff Metropolitan University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Cheryl McQuire

The course had really interesting content, fantastic expert speakers and great links with the forensic psychology community.


Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme - 20+ Awards

The postgraduate scholarship is an award for those studying a full time taught masters programme at Cardiff Met in 2014. The award will pay for your fees in full, valued at £4000 depending on the course.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Up to £4000


See http://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/pgscholarships for full criteria.

Application Procedure

Please fill in the online application form at: http://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/pgscholarshipsOr visit the website to download the application form and return by:Post: Admissions, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Western Avenue, Cardiff, CF5 2YB
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 029 20 416286You will receive notification that we have received your application and successful applicants will be notified in September following enrolment.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good honours degree (normally 2.1 or above) in Psychology, from a BPS (British Psychological Society) accredited undergraduate course. In addition, applicants will be expected to demonstrate experience in a relevant area, for example, experience with victims, offenders or service providers in a forensic domain. In exceptional cases, applicants who have achieved a lower second class award in an accredited Psychology undergraduate degree but have extensive relevant work experience may be considered for admission to the Programme.

Course Fees

UK/EU students: £6,000; International Students: £12,000

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