Investigative and Forensic Psychology MSc/PGDip/PGCert

  • Programme duration: Full-time: 12 months  
  • Programme start: September 2022
  • Entry requirements: A high 2:1 Bachelors degree (with Honours) in Psychology. The majority of your module marks must be in this range, especially for research methods and statistics. International students must have an IELTS score of 7.5 (no band lower than 7.0)
Investigative and Forensic Psychology msc

Module details

The programme aims to enable students to acquire conceptual knowledge, skills and critical awareness through the following:

  • Key readings – Provision of key readings in advance of lectures in order to give students an overview of the relevant conceptual models and an understanding of the key debates.
  • Lectures – A series of lectures from core teaching staff.
  • Visiting speakers – Lectures from practitioners, often using lively case examples.
  • Tutorials – A number of tutorials accompanying some of the modules to allow for clarification, reflection and debate.
  • Student seminars – Involvement in small seminar groups where each group delivers a series of short presentations to their fellow students.
  • Practitioner seminars – Opportunity to engage in practitioner seminars, as well as other larger scale events. For example, in previous years, students have attended the National Policing Improvements Agency event, and an event on Investigative Interviewing held at, and in partnership with, Merseyside Police’s Brunswick Dock training College. These were large scale events for the practitioner community
  • Personal and professional development reflection – Students will be expected to complete an e-portfolio of reflective learning and reflective writing, to demonstrate personal and professional development
  • Traditional assessment methods – Essays, statistics exams and research project
  • Innovative assessment methods – Practitioner reports, offender profiling report, court report, poster presentation and research proposal.

The MSc Investigative and Forensic Psychology is a one year full time 180 credit programme divided into four 30 credit taught modules and one 60 credit dissertation, all modules are compulsory. The sequence of modules is as follows: Criminal Behaviour – Research Methods and statistics-Policing & Emergency Response – Assessment and Legal processes. The objective of this chronology broadly reflects the process of Investigative / Forensic Psychology from assessment of the criminal act (profiling and behavioural advice), to the investigation (decision making, leadership and information capture) and to the assessment, court process and potential custodial and through care processes (more conventional forensic psychology).

Compulsory modules

Criminal Behaviour (PSYC702)
Credit level30
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

To provide students with an overview of the range of theoretical and conceptual models of criminal behaviour.
To give a detailed focus on violence, sexual aggression, co-offending and corporate crime, as well as the range of individual and contextual factors that shape such behaviour.
To highlight the ways in which theory and research can inform investigative practise.
To demonstrate awareness of the processes and methodological approaches used in applied forensic practise and how these tools are applied in investigations.
To increase awareness of the issues and ethics involved in the production of professional reports and the interpersonal skills in communicating and disseminating knowledge to the practitioner community.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically evaluate the various explanations and theories for criminal behaviour.

(LO2) Apply psychological theories of behaviour to the criminal context.

(LO3) Critically evaluate the contributions experts can make in criminal investigations, in terms of increasing understanding of offender behaviour.

(LO4) Critically appraise how practitioner reports should be prepared and disseminated.

(S1) Communication. Oral, written and visual. Academic writing inc. referencing skills.

(S2) Communication. Oral, written and visual. Report writing

(S3) Critical thinking and problem solving. Critical analysis

(S4) Working in groups and teams. Group action planning.

Policing and Emergency Response (PSYC703)
Credit level30
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

To provide students with a range of theoretical paradigms, ethical and professional issues of relevance to investigative and emergency response processes, including decision making, leadership and communication.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically evaluate similarities and differences between traditional and naturalistic theories of decision making, and judge their applicability to emergency service contexts.

(LO2) Describe and explain how individual differences, group cohesion, leadership and effective communication may affect emergency service decision making.

(LO3) Identify how environmental and organisational factors impact upon effective investigation.

(LO4) Critically evaluate the relevance of conceptual knowledge of crowds, leadership and memory to public order policing, critical incident management, and witness and suspect interviewing.

(LO5) Critically assess the impact that current PEACE and PACE approaches have had on police interviewing, as well as the underlying social and cognitive processes on which they were built.

(S1) Communication, oral, written and visual. Academic writing including referencing skills.

(S2) Communication, oral, written and visual. Report writing.

(S3) Critical thinking and problem solving. Critical analysis.

(S4) Working in groups and teams. Group action planning.

Assessment and Legal Processes (PSYC706)
Credit level30
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

To provide students with a review of relevant conceptual theories and approaches to assessment and legal processes with children and adults in forensic contexts.
To introduce legal frameworks for the use of psychology in the courts including ethical and professional standards with specific reference to communication.
To illustrate the special needs of offenders, risk assessment and multi agency approaches.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Apply systematic critical awareness of the ethical and professional standards of expert forensic practise for the Courts and some associated forensic services.

(LO2) Demonstrate and apply originality and criticality in the application and communication of knowledge of the causes and consequences of family violence and the impact on victims.

(LO3) Demonstrate comprehensive understanding and application of the techniques of assessment and intervention with victims and offenders, including litigants, appellants, arbitration and mediation.

(LO4) Show awareness of the special needs of offenders with personality and or other disorder and difficulties.

(LO5) Demonstrate knowledge of risk assessment as relevant to some forensic procedures and populations.

(LO6) Apply and demonstrate awareness of issues that pertain to child protection, court processes and proceedings.

(LO7) Demonstrate standards for the construction of professional court reports.

(S1) Critical thinking and problem solving. Critical analysis.

(S2) Communication, oral, written and visual. Academic writing, including referencing skills.

(S3) Communication, oral, written and visual. Report writing.

(S4) Working in groups and teams. Group action planning.

(S5) Personal attributes and qualities. Integrity.

Research Methods and Statistics (PSYC640)
Credit level30
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting50:50

To highlight the importance of research and professional ethics in psychology. 
To broaden students understanding of the range of quantitative and qualitative psychological research methods available to them.
To familiarise students with the concepts, underlying principles and general purposes of basic and advanced data analysis techniques in psychology.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically evaluate the principles underlying qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

(LO2) Select an appropriate research design and method of analysis to answer a research question.

(LO3) Apply appropriate techniques for conducting descriptive and inferential statistics.

(S1) Communication, oral, written and visual. Academic writing including referencing skills.

(S2) Critical thinking and problem solving. Critical analysis.

(S3) Research skills. Ethical awareness.

(S4) Skills in using technology. Using common applications, work processing, databases, spreadsheets etc.

(S5) Numeracy and computational skills. Reason with numbers and mathematical concepts.

(S6) Numeracy and computational skills. Confidence and competence in measuring and using numbers.

(S7) Numeracy and computational skills. Numerical methods.

Dissertation (PSYC705)
Credit level60
SemesterWhole Session
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

To develop in students the ability to design, run, analyse, and write up an original psychological research study.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically evaluate literature and research methodologies in order to generate and test hypotheses.

(LO2) Design and complete a significant piece of independent, innovative, empirical work, which answers specified research questions.

(LO3) Present research results concisely and to be able to evaluate critically their own research findings.

(LO4) Communicate the purpose, design, and results of their research effectively.

(LO5) Contribute to new or substantive knowledge in a specialised area of psychology.

(S1) Research skills. All Information skills.

(S2) Research skills. Awareness of and commitment to academic integrity.

(S3) Research skills. Ethical awareness.

Criminal Behaviour

Examples of previous visiting speakers:

  • Lee Rainbow, Head of the Behavioural Investigative Advice Unit
  • Albert Kirby, Senior Investigating Officer who led the Jamie Bulger murder case
  • Nicki Grieve-Top, Fraud investigator
  • Dr Susan Giles, Expert in suicide and equivocal death analysis
  • Emily Alison, Protagoras consultants, expert in domestic violence
  • Jim McVey, Substance misuse mental health nurse
  • Allan Deaves, Mobile phone cellsite analyst

Policing and Emergency Response

Example of previous visiting speakers:

  • DC Geoff Brown, Merseyside police, Covert human intelligence sources
  • Former Chief Supt Simon Merry, Dorset Police, public confidence in police
  • Prof Jonathan Crego, Leadership Academy, Metropolitan Police Service.
  • Supt. Alan King, New Scotland Yard, crowd control
  • Gavin Oxburgh and Gavin Pue, Police Service of Northern Ireland, police interviewing
  • Andy Cobby. Expert in Disaster Victim RecoveryIndependent Police Complaints Commission
  • Majeed Khader, Deputy Director of Behavioural Science Unit, Home Team Academy, Singapore

Assessment and legal processes

Examples of previous visiting speakers:

  • Dr Caroline Logan, Expert in personality disorder and crime
  • Professor James McGuire, Expert in offender treatment and rehabilitation
  • Andrew Roberts, Lecturer in Law at Warwick University
  • Dr. Robyn Holliday, Expert in Child memories and violence
  • Dr Tony Beech, Expert in sex offender risk assessments.
  • Dr Darren Chadwick, Expert in adult with learning disabilities
  • Dr Allis Murphy is the Clinical Director of Northwest Psychology Consultants
  • Professor Kevin Howells, expert in therapeutic approaches to offending behaviour


Examples of previous dissertations:

  • The construction and communication of Criminal Profiles: A New Zealand study.
  • Do treatment completers differ from Treatment Drop-outs in a British Voluntary Domestic Violence Intervention Programme? A Preliminary Investigation of Predictors of Attrition.
  • Adolescents who sexually harm: Can an identified subtype predict the risk of recidivism.
  • Help or hindrance? The use of text messages within crisis negotiation environment    
  • Crime scene actions and characteristics of sexual offenders in Korea
  • An investigation into confidence in UK policing: bridging the gap between neo-Durkheimian theory and enhancing confidence in typically critical groups of society
  • Grooming for sexual exploration: An exploratory study of victims and perpetrator characteristics
  • Major Incident Leadership: A Perspective from the Emergency Services
  • Male on Male rape: A multivariate model of offence behaviour