MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology



The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology and MSc in Forensic Psychology Studies (for students without Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership with the British Psychological Society) are renowned for producing high calibre graduates.  Feedback from employers indicates they are consistently impressed with the ability of York graduates to apply theory to practice and this is reflected in the destinations of many of our recent graduates.  

The courses provide an equal balance of practice-based, methodological and theoretically driven modules designed to foster autonomy within the bounds of professional practice, independent learning and self-directed reflection.  The highly specialist forensic modules, delivered by practising experts in the field, combined with generic practice-based modules, tutorials and the support of a highly experienced core course team, will provide you with the requisite practitioner-based skills, understanding, and knowledge to work effectively and increase your employability in a forensic setting. The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology will also facilitate chartership within the British Psychological Society Division of Forensic Psychology for students who go on to undertake a further two years of forensic practice as outlined in the conditions for membership.
The MSc Applied Forensic Psychology course is formally accredited by the British Psychological Society.  More information on the benefits of undertaking an accredited course can be found on the British Psychological Society website.



The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology and MSc in Forensic Psychology Studies are full-time (51-week), 180-credit programmes divided into seven modules (6 taught, 1 independent study):  

  • The practitioner skills modules will facilitate confidence in your ability to work as a practitioner in a forensic setting and will also provide you with leading edge information technology, presentation and communication skills required for a wide variety of roles.
  • The research evidence and theory modules will provide a grounding in theory, research methods and statistics that will provide the key skills for employment in a variety of settings (e.g., prisons, secure units, the police, prison and probation services) and the key skills for those who wish to pursue a research degree in a forensic or a related field. 
  • The empirical research project will provide the academic grounding for those wishing to pursue an academic career or gain more specialist knowledge in a particular topic area.

For more information on the aims and objectives of each module, please click on the links provided in the timetable below. 

Term 1Induction programme
Forensic Psychology in Practice Research Design and Statistics Legal and Contextual issues Forensic and Generic Skills
Term 2 Forensic Psychology in Practice Issues and Methods in Applied Research Forensic Mental Health  
Easter vacation
Term 3 / vacation Empirical research project/dissertation 

Teaching (Terms 1 and 2)

The modules incorporate a range of teaching, supervision and learning strategies including:

  • Activity-based workshops
  • Academic and practitioner lectures
  • Tutorials 
  • Practical sessions 

The majority of teaching is scheduled for Mondays and Tuesdays.  However, it may sometimes be necessary for students to also attend sessions on other days.   Please note that practical workshops for the Research Design and Statistics module are scheduled for Friday mornings during the Autumn Term.

All lectures are recorded and are available for students to access throughout the course.

Research (Term 3)

In addition to the 6 taught modules, students undertaking the MSc also design and implement an empirical research project, either in small groups or individually.  Depending on the research question, this can involve collecting data from a forensic setting.  Students are expected to provide an outline of their proposed project towards the end of Term 1. The subsequent dissertation is a maximum of 8,000 words and completed independently.  Each student is allocated an academic supervisor to oversee completion of their project.


Students on both courses are encouraged to write concisely to a high academic standard for a range of different audiences.  Hence, assessment methods are varied and include assessed coursework and closed exams: 

  • Short answer paper 
  • Briefing paper 
  • Case formulation 
  • Open essay 
  • Research protocol
  • Multiple choice paper 
  • Practical reports
  • Empirical research project

Students will be allocated a personal supervisor to monitor their progress throughout the academic year and provide support and guidance if necessary.


The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology course does not include a placement component.  However, some students may be able to obtain voluntary work experience in forensic settings to complement their studies.  In addition, the course team is sometimes able to help secure placements for students who have little or no forensic experience, although this cannot be guaranteed.  As well as receiving supervision from the provider, students will also be assigned to a member of the course team who will oversee their performance throughout the placement.  Since they are not a required or essential component of the MSc course, placements are not assessed.

You are advised to contact local organisations at the start of the Autumn Term if you are considering undertaking work experience during your studies.  Please also be aware that some placement providers (particularly charities) may require volunteers to commit for a full year and this should be borne in mind when arranging accommodation. 

Our students have succeeded in securing placements with the following establishments/organisations:

  • HMP Doncaster
  • HMP Full Sutton
  • Durham and Tees Valley Probation Trust
  • The Farndon Unit
  • Strength to Change, Hull
  • Stockton Hall Hospital, York
  • North Yorkshire Probation
  • Rampton Secure Hospital

In the 2015/16 academic year, students have undertaken work experience with:

  • Stockton Hall Hospital, York
  • Circles of Support and Accountability
  • The Petros Organisation, York
  • The University of York (supporting PhD students)
  • Springwood Lodge Hospital, Leeds

On some occasions, students have managed to secure full or part-time employment with the placement provider after graduating from the MSc programme.

Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability, featuring MSc AFP alumni Amii Hough who went on to become employed by YHCOSA.


Course team

The course team is comprised of academics and practitioners with a wide range of expertise over a diverse range of topics in forensic psychology:

  • Dr Jane Clarbour BSc(Hons) PhD (Course Director)
  • Professor Cynthia McDougall BSc(Hons) PhD OBE   
  • Paul Summers BA(Hons) MA GDip MSc
  • Elizabeth Barkham BSc(Hons) MSc MSc
  • Dr Claire Thompson BA(Hons) MSc DForenPsych PGDip
  • John Atkinson BSc(Hons) MSc
  • Melanie Hunter BA(Hons) MSc PgDip PgDip

Additional teaching is provided by staff from the Department of Psychology and from other departments at the University of York:

The course also benefits from the contributions of our honorary members:

  • Professor Adrian Raine DPhil, Department of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Professor Rainer Banse PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Bonn
  • Dr Mark Freestone BA (Cantab) MA PhD, Centre for Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London
  • Dr Jon Carey (TEWV NHS Trust) 
  • Dr Kelly Elsegood, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Psychology at Cygnet Bierley Secure Hospital

Additional tuition and support is provided by Chartered Forensic practitioners (or their equivalent), drawn from HM Prison Service and other organisations. These include:

  • John Fisher
  • Rebecca Milner
  • Sarah Barnes
  • Rachel Gibson (HMPYOI Wetherby)
  • Phil Coombes (The Farndon Unit)
  • Tracy Brookes (Stockton Hall Secure Hospital)
  • Mark Freestone (Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London)
  • Rob Tucker (RGT Training and Consultancy)




Since completing their studies, our students have managed to secure jobs as trainee and assistant psychologists, intervention facilitators and intelligence analysts.  Others have gone on to undertake doctoral study. 

'The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology at York is one of a kind. The stimulating lectures, made even better by a range of guest speakers, who are so passionate about their work, make learning enjoyable, and open your eyes to the potential careers this qualification can lead to. Due to the applied nature of the course, students are given the opportunity to apply theory to practice and undertake a range of assessments which not only prepare them for work within forensic psychology, but give them a chance to achieve high marks as the course is not solely exam or essay based. The course staff work hard to secure volunteer opportunities and organise trips to secure settings in order to give students a real feel for what it is like to work in this area. This course has undoubtedly opened up many doors for me.'

Fiona Sweeney, Course representative 2016/17

'I have often spoken to colleagues who studied for the MSc at different universities and the consensus was that York focused on work that was relevant to practice and helped prepare individuals for working on Stage 2.  I always recall feeling so much more confident when I was asked to complete a case formulation, something a colleague had never heard about beforehand!' 

Debbie Horwood, Forensic Psychologist in Training

 'I regard this MSc as pivotal in my personal and professional development and would highly recommend the course to anyone wishing to pursue a career in psychology.' 

Siobhan Dunleavy, full-time student, MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology

'The MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology has played an integral part of my progress in the prison service.  Being a mature student in my fifties, I had believed that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to reach the status of Forensic Psychologist in Training.  However, it soon became evident that the degree I held was very influential.  The fact that the course was delivered by tutors who had been practitioners was invaluable as many concepts I came across in my work were already familiar to me.  Without a doubt, my decision to apply to study Forensic Psychology at the University of York is one of the wisest I have ever taken.'

Michael Meek, full-time student, MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology

'I wanted to say thank you for a year stuffed full of learning.  The mix of academic and practical content was exactly what I needed.  Whilst I'm excited to move on to the next stage, I kind of wish I could do it all again.'

Lily Lewis, full-time student, MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology

'The PhD for which I am applying will employ a mixed methodology of quantitative and qualitative research and thus the extended knowledge gained thorough the MSc will be invaluable. Importantly, as the MSc was an 'applied' course, I was able to see how theory linked with practice, thus contextualising the significance of what was learnt and understood in respect of a specific subject and how this could be applied in the field.'

Wendy Jones, full-time student, MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology

'The speed of progression in this job is due to the excellent teaching at York into the practical applications of forensic psychology into forensic settings. There is a perfect balance between theory and application, especially through a core module taught in forensic psychology in practice. I thoroughly enjoyed and value my experience at York University on the MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology.'

Emily Needham, Forensic Psychologist in Training

'The course surpassed my expectations'

Stavros-Ioannis Tsompanidis, full-time student, MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology







Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements

We normally look for a UK bachelor degree in Psychology with first or upper second class honours (or the overseas equivalent). To be eligible for entry on the MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology programme of study, you should normally have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS), as this is a BPS accredited programme.
Applicants without GBC may also apply for the MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology, however, if you would like to work towards the BPS Qualification in Forensic Psychology (Stage 2) you would need to go on to complete a Psychology conversion course after gaining your MSc.
There is also an equivalent non-BPS accredited MSc in Forensic Psychology Studies (MSc FPS) for applicants that do not wish to pursue Chartership.
Please note that applicants without GBC should hold a first degree that demonstrates knowledge and understanding of psychological principles together with competency in research design and analysis.
When assessing your academic record, we take into account your grade average, position in class and references. It is therefore important to state what your GPA and/or grade was (i.e. above 65%) in addition to your degree class obtained. We particularly welcome applicants from institutions of high ranking and repute and give preference to students with relevant forensic experience, although this is not essential.

Students whose first language is not English will need to provide evidence of competence in the English Language. We normally look for a score in the British Council's IELTS test of 6.5 or above, with no individual element below 6.5 (or equivalent Pearson PTE 65-72/English CPE: B).  Please note that we may ask for higher scores than this in some cases.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.  Please note that we do not accept requests to defer studies to future years.  If you wish to defer your application, you should reapply for entry in the following academic year.

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In order to process your application, we require copies of the following: 

  • An up-to-date transcript
  • One academic reference (required at the time of application)
  • An up-to-date English language score outlining the individual element scores (if English is not your first language).
  • Personal Statement

Your personal statement should include:

  • Your current average or final mark for the subjects you have studied for your degree, and if possible your position in class. It is particularly helpful for us to know what your results have been for the research design and statistical analysis components of your degree.
  • Why you are interested in studying forensic psychology at the University of York and how the course will impact on your future.
  • Any relevant experience you have gained (full-time job, summer job, internships etc.).  
  • What makes you stand out as an applicant compared to others.

We recommend that prospective students submit their applications by the 31st of March for entry onto the course in October. Although applications may still be considered beyond this date, places on the course are limited and we would therefore advise you to apply at the earliest opportunity.

Where all documentation is provided, we endeavour to process your application within six weeks.  If you have any questions, please contact our Postgraduate Administrator.


Course fees for the MSc AFP and FPS are set at the higher rate for overseas students.

For full details and current fees see the non-standard fees section of the Student Recruitment and Admissions  pages.


MSc in Forensic Psychology Studies

The Masters in Forensic Psychology Studies will suit students who are keen to undertake a postgraduate qualification in forensic psychology but whose undergraduate psychology degree was not accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).  The Masters in Forensic Psychology Studies follows the same programme of study as the MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology and both are examined to the same high standard.

In order for a psychologist to become chartered by the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology, a student should complete BPS accredited undergraduate and Masters programmes in Forensic Psychology in addition to undertaking a period of practice supervised by a Chartered Forensic Psychologist.   Those whose undergraduate degree does not give Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS can complete a BPS accredited conversion course.  Please see the BPS webpages for further details.

Applicants who are looking to become chartered with the BPS and/or a Forensic Psychologist should apply for the Masters in Applied Forensic Psychology.

Students in Seminar


For fee information please refer to the University's fees for Laboratory-based fees for Taught Masters courses.  Please note that the AFP courses attract non-standard fees that are shown separately from fees for other courses. Information about these fees can be found via the following link

Who to contact

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