Forensic Psychology MSc

Giving you a greater understanding of the contribution that forensic psychology can make to the workings of the criminal justice system and the lives of offenders and victims.

Why Surrey?

Forensic psychology examines psychological theories, methods and processes within the context of the legal, criminal and civil justice systems. In particular it looks at the treatment and assessment of offenders, including those who are mentally disordered, and contributes to the investigation of crime by examining issues such as identification of suspects, investigative interviewing, psychological profiling and detecting deception. Forensic psychologists work in collaboration with criminal justice practitioners such as the police and the probation service, as well as other psychologists within secure hospitals and the prison service.

This programme gives you a greater understanding of the contribution that forensic psychology can make. The British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP) expects prospective members to fulfil core academic components and possess recognised qualifications in forensic psychology. The MSc Forensic Psychology programme, accredited by the DFP, provides the academic component (Stage 1) on the route to achieving the Qualification in Forensic Psychology and becoming a Chartered Psychologist with the DFP and Practitioner Forensic Psychologist with the Health Professions Council.

Graduates of the programme go on to work in all areas of the criminal justice system, with recent students taking posts in the NHS, prison and probation service, as well as within the police force and ministry of defence. A number of students each year choose to continue to study for a PhD, and a proportion of our graduates eventually return to university to complete training in clinical psychology.

Programme overview

The development of the MSc Forensic Psychology programme relates to current developments within the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP), which highlights the need for recognised knowledge as a basis for achieving the Qualification in Forensic Psychology. The programme therefore covers the whole curriculum required for a BPS-accredited MSc Forensic Psychology programme.

The programme will provide you with advanced knowledge and understanding of the principles of forensic psychology in research and practice, and train you in the informed and systematic application of the research-practitioner model involving problem analysis and formulation, intervention, assessment and evaluation.

You will be exposed to the major theoretical formulations and models in the area of forensic psychology in order to provide a conceptual underpinning to inform your approach to research and practice. The programme aims to develop the interpersonal, technical and creative skills required for your effective transition to the workplace and, in addition, will prepare you to conduct research by giving you the appropriate technical skills in design and analytical procedures.

The assignments that we use are not only exams and traditional academic essays but also include more professional formats, such as consultancy reports, that enable you to build important skills for your future career as a forensic psychologist.

We deliberately limit student numbers to ensure high standards and to enable us to develop a good relationship with each of our students.

The strong links with Broadmoor Hospital give the University of Surrey programme a distinctive emphasis on the assessment and treatment of the mentally disordered offender. Our links to the University’s School of Law provide a specialist module on the legal process.

Module overview

You will take eight compulsory modules, comprising five core forensic modules and three core research methods modules. One module (22 contact hours) provides 15 credits. Each module is assessed via two forms of assessment. For example, essays, short answer examinations, practical work, presentations, case reports, and so on.

If you are continuing to master’s level, you will also be required to present a dissertation comprising an original piece of empirical research within an area of forensic psychology. The dissertation will be supervised by a member of academic staff and must be completed by the end of the master’s programme.

Compulsory modules

Research and Practice in Forensic Psychology

This module introduces you to the range of contexts in which forensic psychologists practise, develops communication and team-working skills, and models a professional and ethical approach to colleagues and potential clients.

Psychology and Criminal Behaviour

This module introduces you to theories of criminal behaviour, the contexts within which criminal behaviour occurs and the means for managing and evaluating interventions designed to reduce crime and re-offending.

Aspects of the Investigative Process

This module introduces you to a range of areas of forensic research applied to the understanding, investigation , trial, and punishment of crime.

The Legal Process

This module provides you with an understanding of the processes associated with criminal as well as civil courts and tribunals. A range of issues are addressed, including fitness to stand trial, the role of expert witnesses and the safeguards that exist for the interviewing of children and mentally disabled persons.

Violent and Sexual Offending

This module provides you with advanced knowledge and skills in the treatment and management of violent and sexual offending, risk assessment methods, and dealing with violent and sexual offenders. It also provides an appreciation of the theoretical underpinnings of violent and aggressive behaviour and a range of sexual offending patterns, risk factors and their interaction with various forms of mental disorder.

Preparation for Academic Research in Psychology

This module aims to prepare you for academic research in psychology. It addresses the basic research skills needed to progress onto more advanced modules (Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods) and enables you to conduct a dissertation project of publishable standard. As such, the module addresses topics related to the whole research process, from research design through to analysis and reporting.

Quantitative Research Methods

In this module, you will develop the skills to conduct and assess quantitative research effectively.

Qualitative Research Methods

On this module, you will develop the skills to conduct and assess qualitative research.


The dissertation enables you to conduct a significant piece of applied research. It will develop your skills in research and allow you to explore a specific topic in depth.

Applicant profile

This programme may suit you if:

  • You are currently working within the criminal justice or related forensic fields and wish to engage in continuing professional development at an advanced level
  • You are about to graduate and have a special interest in the forensic field
  • You are contemplating gaining a professional qualification (for example, the BPS/DFP Qualification in Forensic Psychology)
  • You are considering a change of career direction

You will need some relevant, practical experience in a forensic environment. Previous applicants and students on the programme have gained experience in the following areas: probation service, prison service, police, social services, psychiatric units, regional secure units, young offenders’ institutes, victim support, legal work and working for relevant charitable organisations. In some cases a relevant research post would also be looked on favourably.

You will also need to support your application with two good references from relevant academics or employers, highlighting your suitability for the programme.

Becoming a Forensic Psychologist

We are committed to providing the training that will be your first step in gaining the Qualification in Forensic Psychology, but we cannot be responsible for continued supervision once the course is completed. Much of our course is delivered by external speakers who are all working professionally in various areas of forensic psychology. It is likely that you will make contacts that will assist you in your future career plans.


Funding is now linked to continuation funding for a PhD – that is, successful applicants to the Economic and Social Research Council will be given a grant for the MSc year and then further support (subject to satisfactory progress) to enable them to undertake a PhD.

Forensic Psychology at Surrey

We have a long tradition of forensic psychology at Surrey. Professor Lionel Haward, recognised as a founding father of the discipline, was based at the University of Surrey for many years, as was Professor David Canter, who pioneered investigative psychology.

The present programme staff work closely with forensic practitioners from all areas of the criminal justice system, and the MSc programme has numerous visiting lecturers who are recognised specialists in their field.

Psychology at Surrey

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey is one of the most active and highly regarded psychology departments in the country. We specialise in applied and policy-oriented teaching and research within a strong theoretical context. The international, interdisciplinary, policy and applied strengths of the School mean that students’ theoretical and methodological research puts them at the cutting edge of the discipline.

We are one of the highest ranked Schools in the country for graduates entering employment and also one of the largest providers of postgraduate training in the UK.

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey has been the centre for many cross-national studies and has attracted funding from research councils and local and national government departments, such as ESF, Defra, the MoD, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, Surrey County Council and the EU.

If you choose to study psychology at the University of Surrey, you will be provided with a combination of opportunities that would be hard to match elsewhere. We offer you a degree that provides a thorough grounding in the theories, methods and practice of contemporary psychology. Our programmes lay particular emphasis on the application of psychology to real-world problems, and also consider issues related to professional practice in preparation for your career as a professional psychologist.

The basis of good postgraduate courses is the research activity of staff, the incorporation of current research programmes in teaching material and a reciprocal relationship between theory development and applied research in everyday contemporary issues. We believe in involving all postgraduate students in the research life of the School through active participation in one of the research groups, attendance at research seminars and, where possible, an attachment to ongoing research projects. As a student of the School of Psychology, you will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year.

Career prospects

The MSc Forensic Psychology programme at the University of Surrey has an excellent record of graduate employment. Our graduates go on to work in all areas of the criminal justice system, including the prison and probation service; some continue in research posts; we have ex-students working in high and medium secure hospitals and other psychiatric units and also various departments within the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, including SOCA. The MSc programme is looked upon favourably when assessing applications for clinical psychology courses, and a number of our recent students are currently in the process of completing the PsychD Clinical Psychology.

Professional recognition

The development of the MSc Forensic Psychology programme relates to current developments within the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP), which highlights the need for recognised knowledge as a basis for achieving the Qualification in Forensic Psychology. The programme therefore covers the whole curriculum required for a BPS-accredited MSc Forensic Psychology programme.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme director

Dr Emily Glorney

Emily Glorney

Find out more

General Enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions Enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2014

Entry Requirements

A first or 2.1 honours degree (or recognised equivalent qualification) in psychology and eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS). Applicants will also be required to participate in an interview as part of the selection process.

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall: 6.5

IELTS minimum by component: 6.0

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2014 £6,590 £16,345
Part-time Sep 2014 £3,295 £8,170

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2014/15 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Surrey and Santander Scholarships

The University of Surrey are pleased to offer four scholarship schemes aimed at further enhancing our cultural diversity:

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Tullow Oil Scholarship Scheme

The University of Surrey is delighted to announce it has recently been selected to participate in the Tullow Oil Scholarship Scheme.

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Indonesia-UK DIKTI Scholarship Scheme

Open to lecturers and administrative staff at Indonesian universities.

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Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumni of Surrey you could be eligible for a 10% discount on our Taught Masters programme fees.

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International students

Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.

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