The programme was introduced in October 1995, and the School of Psychology has a long tradition of research in the area of criminal justice and legal psychology. Currently, several members of the School are actively involved in research and consultancy, and several PhD students are currently conducting research under their supervision.
This MSc is the only programme that offers an entire module on offender cognition, which helps you to understand how offence-supportive thinking can increase the chances of sexual offenders, firesetters and other individuals committing offences. With the support of forensic psychology staff you will also gain real-world writing skills such as journal writing, risk assessment reports, court reports and government research reports.
We are particularly interested in receiving applications from suitably qualified graduates who have direct experience of the application of psychological principles in custodial or other forensic settings, although such experience is not essential. As a significant element of the programme involves training in advanced methodological and statistical techniques, we are unable to consider applications from candidates who do not qualify for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS - Graduate Membership of the BPS is insufficient.
Watch an additional video about Taught MSc Degrees in the School of Psychology and find out about the excellent support we give to our students.
As a student within the School of Psychology at Kent, you benefit from our supportive, dynamic and diverse environment for creative research and learning.
All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.
Conducting both basic and applied research in several areas, Psychology at Kent is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research. Our long-established international reputation in social psychology is complemented by our strengths in cognitive, developmental and forensic psychology. We attract excellent visiting scholars and postgraduate students from both within the UK and overseas.
Some of our PhD students are self-funded, and others are funded by grants or awards either from the School, UK or their countries of origin. Some are also paid to undertake part-time teaching within the School. We have a strong track record of attracting ESRC research studentship funding, which involves partnerships with external organisations such as Age UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and collaborative studentships with partners such as People United.
British Psychological Society
You must hold, or have applied for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC, formerly GBR) with the British Psychological Society (BPS). Please note that Graduate Membership of the BPS is not accepted.
You will normally have GBC status if you hold a Psychology honours degree accredited by the BPS. Otherwise, you can apply to have your existing degree assessed by the BPS, or take a conversion course. If you are not sure whether you hold GBC status, please contact the BPS directly.
You must also hold a Bachelor's or Master's degree with a classification (grade average) of a high 2.1 (i.e. average grade of 65 or over) or Merit in the UK system (the second highest classification after First/Distinction). Results from institutions in other countries will be assessed individually according to this standard.
An assessed piece of coursework must also be submitted as part of the application for review by the programme director.
This programme includes a one-year statistics sequence which you must normally pass in order to receive your award. The teaching assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
Therefore, your existing degree transcript should note that you have taken and passed a minimum of one term each in statistics and social science research methods courses (or two terms of a joint statistics and research methods course).
We encourage applicants to gain voluntary (or in some cases paid) work/research experience in a forensic setting, for example victim support, the police, the prison service, the NHS, or forensic-relevant charities. However, relevant work experience is not mandatory for entry to this programme.
The University of Kent's Code of Practice provides guidance on the practice and operation of APL (accreditation of prior learning).
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
Teaching on core forensic modules is enhanced by the contributions of several honorary teaching staff, all of whom are Chartered Forensic Psychologists working in applied settings (eg in Special Hospitals, RSUs and prisons).
Recent research projects undertaken have included:
View this year's timetable. Please note that timetabling and modules may change from year to year.
The modules below are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
The MSc in Forensic Psychology is composed of the following six compulsory modules:
This module provides a postgraduate-level orientation to both basic and advanced contemporary statistical and methodological issues in psychology. The methodological issues you consider include qualitative research methodologies; experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational research designs in the laboratory and field; and the fundamental issues in psychological measurement including reliability and validity. The statistical techniques you learn include univariate and multivariate descriptive and inferential statistics; basic and advanced topics in ANOVA and ANCOVA; linear and logistic multiple regression; some scaling methods; classical test theory, factor analysis; fundamentals of structural equation modelling (path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, multiple-group analysis), and some item response theory.
This module entails the student undertaking independent empirical research on a forensic topic. The area is guided by the students' supervisor, but also informed by the Division of Forensic Psychology curriculum. The research is to be at a publishable level and should make an original contribution to the field, however it is not required to provide as comprehensive coverage or investigation as that which would be required for a PhD.
This module examines the topic of criminality from a broad psychological perspective. The origins of the criminal tendency in childhood are detailed and its abundant expression in adolescence highlighted and examined. You consider the evidence that consistent criminal tendencies can be reliably assessed and evaluate the extent to which personality factors can explain that consistency. The concept of psychopathy is explored along with the relationship between crime, law and moral judgement. The role of victims in creating, defining and reporting crime is analysed, and the psychological consequences of crime for victims and potential victims are explored.
You examine the social psychological processes involved in defining an act as criminal and deserving of prosecution and conviction. You evaluate why we punish offenders; how they are caught, identified and prosecuted; the role of public opinion in justice and the court process. We also evaluate legal decisions by jurors and judges; the treatment of offenders with special needs and the effects of imprisonment for both prisoners and the prison system.
In this module you are introduced to the role of forensic psychology within secure establishments, exploring both general and specific issues related to working with dangerous mentally disordered and non-disordered offenders. You evaluate the importance of assessment in understanding the function of offending, identifying treatment targets and measuring change, and explore the difficulties associated with such assessments. Treatment models and their application to a variety of offences are discussed, including in special hospital and criminal justice settings. Gender differences are raised with particular attention to mental health problems in women who offend. Forensic cases are used to demonstrate the complexities associated with assessing and treating this population.
This module asks what sort of thinking occurs in individuals who sexually molest children, rape adults, or commit acts of violence. Do they think their actions are legitimate in some instances or do they know they are wrong but choose to offend nonetheless? Cognition, or thinking, is recognised as being a key component underlying the way people behave. Understanding how research on cognition and social cognition can be applied to crime allows researchers and practitioners to shed light on offenders' antisocial behaviours. In this strongly research-based course, you learn about some of the influential theories that have been developed to help explain offenders' antisocial actions, the latest research designed to help understand why men offend, and widely used treatment programmes designed to alter cognitive characteristics associated with offending in order to reduce recidivism. In addition you learn about fascinating social-cognitive phenomena associated with child and adult eyewitness testimony, and how memory can play havoc with the criminal justice system.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
The MSc in Forensic Psychology aims to satisfy the academic component of professional training in forensic psychology (that is, to become a Chartered Forensic Psychologist). Throughout the programme, you attend non-assessed seminars and go on site visits.
The programme includes lecture, workshop and seminar-based teaching, as well as an individually supervised empirical research project.
Advanced Statistics and Methodology is assessed by examination. All other taught modules are assessed by written work and presentations. Research is assessed by two articles: one empirical paper and one review article on your chosen topic.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Psychology was ranked 11th in the UK for research intensity.
An impressive 95% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The School of Psychology is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research, with an international reputation for excellence in social psychology (including group processes and intergroup relations); cognition and neuroscience; developmental psychology; and forensic psychology. We have staff who can supervise research degrees in all of these areas. The research environment is designed to sustain a strong, vibrant research culture, encourage collaboration, and unite staff and students with shared research interests. Our themes ensure critical mass and create a highly energetic and stimulating intellectual climate.
Research activity is supported by:
Forensic Psychology research at Kent and all forensic-related teaching operates through our newly constituted Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP). Current research is focused on bullying in prisons, prison gang behaviour, jury decision-making, child sexual offending, rape, rape proclivity, female sexual offending, theories of offender rehabilitation, firesetting, sexual harassment, violence, aggression and alcohol, and the infrahumanisation of offenders. Other areas of research include social cognition, social and moral emotion, and group process theory, all of which are applied to the study of offending behaviour or court process issues.
Forensic psychology research at Kent is funded by various national and international sources, which include: The British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, Home Office, Leverhulme, Ministry of Justice and the Nuffield Foundation.
Research may be carried out with staff or offenders/ex-offenders in a variety of settings, including prisons, youth offender institutions, secure mental health units and probation offices. Alternatively, research may take place with students or members of the community in our newly equipped laboratories.
Much of our social psychology research is co-ordinated through the Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP), the largest research group in this area in Europe. CSGP attracts a stream of major international social psychology researchers, who are officially affiliated to the Centre and visit regularly to work with our staff. The Social Psychology group also includes the co-editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (Abrams).
Social psychology research at Kent is funded by a variety of British and international sources, currently and recently including ESRC, British Academy, Leverhulme, Age Concern, European Commission, European Science Foundation, Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Nuffield, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as government departments such as the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Social Psychology group includes the following themes:
This research is carried out in our social psychology laboratories, at schools and in business organisations. For example, research within this topic focuses on questions such as: how contact between members of different social groups is represented psychologically, how intergroup contact affects prejudice, when outgroups are seen as less human, when and why children show prejudice, and why organisational mergers sometimes fail.
Research on this topic combines theory-driven research and engagement with policy. It is conducted in real-life settings such as the workplace, and involves national and international surveys. For example, the research focuses on the well-being of elderly people in Britain, work participation and motherhood, and discrimination against different groups in society.
Laboratory studies and community-based research are conducted on this topic. For example, research focuses on co-operation in small groups, group decision-making, perception and influence of leaders, social communication and language, subjective group dynamics in adults and children, the dynamics of prison gang activity, and the impact of alcohol on group processes.
Much of this research is carried out in laboratories, through surveys and in clinical or other applied settings. For example, research has examined aggression, the adaptive functions of perfectionism, and consequences of mortality salience.
Research under this theme has an international reputation in the topic areas of Visual Cognition, Attention and Memory, and Language and Communication.
Research on this topic focuses primarily on the role of vision and visual perception in human performance. The fundamental aim of this work is to identify the cognitive processes and neurological mechanisms underlying various visual tasks. Studies involving neurologically healthy volunteers examine issues such as face recognition and identification, eyewitness testimony, person detection, emotion processing, episodic memory and pattern and motion recognition.
Research in this group examines various aspects of semantic, pragmatic and syntactic understanding. Research questions on healthy populations include the role of executive functions in successful language use and communication, how language influences attentional processes and perspective taking, anomaly detection, and the effect of interruptions on reading. Work on developmental populations examines issues such as how children learn to understand and produce sentences in their own language, and how they learn conversational conventions and self-repair. Research also examines developmental disorders of communication, including autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia. This research group has links with researchers in the School of European Culture and Languages, as part of the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies.
Much of the research conducted by members of the Developmental Psychology group is conducted with neurotypical infants, children, and adolescents. However, we also take a lifespan approach to the study of development and conduct research with older adults. Moreover, a key focus of our research is on neuro-developmental disorders. Central research topics include:
Developmental group members are particularly interested in the expression and control of ethnic and gender prejudice, social ostracism and inclusion, conversational norms and group identity in children. We also conduct research on social aspects of older adulthood, in particular self-stereotyping and prejudice against elderly people.
Cognitive development is a major focus of many of our developmental psychologists. In particular, members of the Developmental Psychology group actively research topics such as the development of social cognition and theory of mind, language, information and sensory processing, and conversation and pragmatic skills.
Our developmental research also focuses on adolescence, as well as infancy, childhood and older adulthood. In particular, we are interested in the emergence of gang activity and antisocial behaviour during this period of development.
We also conduct cutting-edge research into neuro-developmental disorders, such as autism and language impairment, with a view to understanding the nature and basis of, and best ways to treat, these disorders.
The School of Psychology currently includes two formally constituted research centres, representing areas of concentration and excellence in research.
The Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP) was set up in 1990 to consolidate the School’s excellent international reputation for social psychological research into group processes and intergroup relations. CSGP is now a thriving international research community, including 15 full-time academic staff and a large number of research fellows and PhD students. The Centre also attracts a stream of major international group researchers, who are officially affiliated to it and regularly visit to work with our staff. The Centre also edits an international journal, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
The main aim of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology is to conduct high-impact psychological research to further understand key forensic issues of social significance, and to lead to cutting-edge teaching and research opportunities for postgraduate students. Forensic psychology is an extremely popular and rapidly developing branch of psychology that seeks to understand the psychological processes underlying offending behaviour (including group processes), the reduction and supervision of offending behaviour (ie rehabilitation, treatment and management of community risk), victim responses to offending, the mechanisms underlying the criminal justice system more generally (ie jury decision-making and the courts), and attitudes to offenders and offender reintegration in society.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Our postgraduate students commonly go into the fields of health, teaching or further education. For instance, many of our graduates take up roles as assistant psychologists in the NHS with a view to becoming a professional clinical or forensic psychologist. Upon completing our Master’s courses, graduates have also pursued doctoral study and academic careers at higher education institutions.
The programmes we offer help you to develop general critical, analytic and problem-solving skills that can be applied in a wide range of settings.
All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.
The MSc in Forensic Psychology at Kent is accredited by The British Psychological Society as providing the first (academic) year of professional training for those who wish to qualify as Chartered Forensic Psychologists. Graduates from the programme are then required to gain the equivalent of a further two years' relevant experience under the supervision of a Chartered Forensic Psychologist before qualifying for Chartered status themselves. You should contact the BPS directly if you have enquiries about the nature of the supervised practice element of qualification.
Please note that only students who gain a mark of 40% or above in every module, with an overall mark of at least 50%, are eligible for accreditation by the British Psychological Society.
The School has excellent facilities for both laboratory and field research, including advanced laboratory and teaching facilities. Resources include:
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Child Development; Clinical Psychology Review. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
The online application form will ask you to provide the name and email address of one academic referee from your degree-granting institution. On submission of your application, they will receive a reference request by email.
To save time, we recommend that you notify your referee in advance. Their reference should describe their impression of your academic achievements, preparedness and motivation for postgraduate study in your chosen field, and personal qualities relevant to postgraduate study.
If you meet the admissions criteria, you may be called for interview which is the next stage of the admissions process. It is our expectation that eligible applicants will make every effort to attend the interview in person so that you can meet us and see our facilities. An offer of an interview via Skype will only be extended to applicants who are studying or working outside of Europe at the time of the interview. Outside of these circumstances, applicants can only request a Skype interview if they provide a compelling case in a one-page statement for our assessment; approval will be given at the programme director’s discretion. **In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, remote interviews are being conducted as standard**
Owing to high demand, interviews take place at set points in the admissions cycle and these will be the only opportunities for consideration. The interview dates are 1 February, 1 March, 9 April, 10 May, 18 June and 19 July. We strongly advise that you apply early in the cycle because we stop accepting new applications once we have reached capacity. In order to give you the best opportunity, we are able to make conditional offers to students who have met most of our criteria but are currently awaiting components of their application (e.g., currently enrolled in an undergraduate programme and, therefore, awaiting final marks and degree classification). If a conditional offer is made, full acceptance on to the course is granted once evidence of the conditions being met is submitted and approved by the programme director.
We will advise eligible applicants on how to complete the booking process once their applications have passed the initial review. When applying, please aim for the February to April interview dates to avoid being disappointed if we close applications early.
During the interview we will be interested in your knowledge of forensic psychology, reasons for studying the subject, research experience, and forensic-relevant work experience.
We strongly advise that applicants requiring a visa to study in the UK submit their application by March in order to be interviewed in April. The process of applying for a visa can be lengthy and, if successful at interview, we want to give you the best chance of completing all of the required paperwork to ensure successful registration for the start of the academic year.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.
T: +44 (0)1227 768896