If you are interested in studying forensic psychology, either as a graduate or post-graduate student, this resource will be perfect for you!
The United Kingdom is one of the best places to be if you want to study forensic psychology. Many influential researchers in the field are affiliated with a UK university, and numerous universities offer graduate programmes in forensic psychology. Add to that the inspiring historic cities, beautiful landscapes, and lovely weather (okay, the last one is a lie!) that the United Kingdom has to offer, and it is easy to see why so many students choose to study here.
Many people are confused about what exactly is the difference between “England”, “the United Kingdom”, “Great Britain”, etc. Just to clarify, the United Kingdom refers to the island which contains England, Scotland, and Wales (i.e., Great Britain) plus Northern Ireland. This article will review forensic psychology programs throughout the United Kingdom. There are 133 universities associated with the Universities UK organization. The British Psychological Society has an excellent website with a plethora of information on psychology programmes in the UK, including a section specifically on forensic psychology.
If you have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and would like to learn more about forensic psychology, you could consider doing a Masters degree. Many UK universities offer taught Masters (MSc) programmes in forensic psychology (in alphabetical order):
Because there is such a wide range of universities, it would be impossible to explain the application process for each. However, information on how to apply can be found on the universities’ websites.
If you want to do research and put the letters Dr. in front of your name, you should consider doing a PhD. In the United Kingdom, there are generally no designated PhD programmes with taught elements like in North America. Instead, you spend three years doing independent research. Although having a Masters degree in psychology would probably make you a stronger candidate, it is possible to get a PhD position with only a Bachelor’s degree.
To get a PhD position, the first step is to approach an academic at any university whose research interests match yours (see the list of People below to get some ideas). If they agree to take you on, you will be invited for a selection interview with a panel of several staff members from the department. If you successfully navigate this step, you will typically be offered a position as an MPhil student. Once you have satisfactorily completed the first year of your research, you will be upgraded to the status of PhD student (which normally requires completion of a literature review and an “upgrade meeting” with your research committee).
Doing a PhD in the United Kingdom is substantially different from doing a PhD in North America, and you should consider which type of programme fits best with your interests and learning style. Very generally speaking, if you prefer freedom and independence over guidance and support, and if you feel you have had enough taught classes and would like to focus on research, doing a PhD in the United Kingdom might be something for you.
Two universities in the United Kingdom offer a Professional Doctorate programme in forensic psychology (ForenPsyD or D.Foren.Psy): the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham. PsyD programmes differ from PhD programmes in that they place a strong emphasis on clinical training rather than research training. When deciding whether to do a PhD or PsyD in forensic psychology, you should consider what you would like to do after graduating. If you intend to work as a forensic psychologist (for instance with offenders or victims), a PsyD will prepare you well for professional practice, and usually includes a forensic placement. If you intend to work as an academic, on the other hand, either to do research or to teach at university (usually both), a PhD would be the better choice.
As mentioned before, there are many forensic psychology researchers in the United Kingdom, so we cannot provide a complete list. However, here are some suggestions of people you might want to work with, listed by research area.
Children and the Justice System
Offenders and Risk Assessment
Personally, I would highly recommend studying forensic psychology in the United Kingdom. The standard of academic programmes is very high, and the United Kingdom is one of the few countries that have undergone real changes in practice as a result of forensic psychology research (for instance, major developments in investigative interviewing). Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions about studying here, and I will try my best to answer them.
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- Annelies Vredeveldt
Below you will find links to the articles from our studying abroad series: