Applied Criminology & Forensic Psychology MSc

Develop a deep insight into crime and what causes criminal behaviour by studying this uniquely practical and applied course


Studying applied criminology and forensic psychology at postgraduate level will allow you to develop a range of enquiring, analytical and practical skills benefitting you as a practitioner or researcher.

You’ll have the opportunity of a work placement alongside specialised modules covering areas including the psychology of evidence, international criminology, assessment of offenders, responses to crime, and advanced quantitative and qualitative research methods. These modules will give you a valuable set of skills for both employment and further research.

Your tutors are all experts in this field. We also invite external practitioners who bring their practical skills and experience to the course throughout the year.

Typical entry point to this course is in September. Please enquire for more information.

Due to the competitive nature of this programme, we advise you submit your application as early as possible.

Students at work at Merchiston campus

Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time)


1 year

Start date:




Course details

You’ll develop a critical awareness of topics at the forefront of criminology and forensic psychology, as well as the contexts and theories that influence practice in these areas.

The applied focus of this course provides an excellent foundation in risk assessment of offenders, use of forensic interviewing strategies, mediation skills and facial composite construction.

Alongside these skills you’ll also learn directly from leading experts about current research and debates in criminology and forensic psychology which directly affect people at all points in the legal system.

Additionally, you'll acquire excellent transferable research skills in both quantitative and qualitative methods which will enable you to carry out high-quality research in a variety of contexts and with ethical integrity.

What you study

Compulsory modules include:

  • Practical Forensic Psychology
  • Current Topics in Crime
  • Criminal Justice in Practice
  • Advanced Research Skills
  • Dissertation

Optional modules include:

  • Evidence and Investigation
  • Understanding and Responding to Crime
  • Advanced Forensic Psychology
  • International and Comparative Criminology
  • Advice and Consultancy
  • Work Placement

Additional costs

Students enrolling in the optional Work Placement module are expected to pay for travel costs

Lead academics and short bio 

Faye Skelton:

  • Completed PhD at Lancaster University
  • Worked for over ten years at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) before moving to Edinburgh Napier University in December 2014. 
  • Research interests focused on face recognition. Collaborates with Dr Charlie Frowd (UCLan) on improving Police facial composites using both feature-based (PROfit) and evolutionary (EvoFIT) software systems. Faye has also worked with Dr John Marsh (UCLan) on the effects of auditory distraction on face processing. 
  • Faye is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has extensive teaching experience in applied cognition: eyewitness memory and identification procedures, facial composites, false and recovered memories, false confessions and police interviewing.
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    How you’ll be taught

    This is a one year full-time course delivered over three trimesters. You’ll learn by a variety of teaching methods including face-to-face lectures, guest lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and independent study. You will be required to attend classes on our Sighthill Campus which will all take place Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm. Some modules may also include some online teaching or support sessions.

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    You will be assessed by a range of applied coursework including policy briefings and reports, risk formulations, individual and group oral presentations, alongside more traditional assessments such as essays and the dissertation.

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    Work placement

    Through engaging in an optional work placement related to your course you will explore the concepts, debates, policies, initiatives, and funding related to the area in which you’re working.

    The Work Placement module is flexible. We have programme-sourced placements with a wide variety of organisations, however it is also possible to find your own placement or to use your existing work. 


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Advanced Forensic Psychology ( PSY11103 )

This module addresses three areas of advanced forensic psychology:1) The development of neuroethics as a body of work to understand and monitor the implications of neuroscience in terms of legal and social responsibility.2) A critical appreciation of some of the ethical dilemmas that are faced by forensic psychologists in their practice within criminal and civil contexts, and an understanding of how research has informed changes in specific aspects of forensic psychology practice over the last 50 years.3) Biological aspects of criminal behaviour including the role of epigenetics in the development of psychopathology and offending, and how catathymic processes and crises drive an individual towards criminal action.

Further information

Advanced Research Skills ( PSY11102 )

This module introduces you to advanced research skills in psychology and the social sciences. The content of this module covers three related areas:

1) Quantitative research, including applying multivariate statistical analysis techniques using appropriate software (e.g. principal components analysis, SEM, cluster analysis)

2) Qualitative research, including methods for collecting and analysing qualitative data (e.g. interviewing, focus groups, documentary analysis etc.).

3) Research ethics

You will have the opportunity to explore these topics across a variety of research examples from criminology and forensic psychology.

Further information

Criminal Justice in Practice ( SSC11110 )

This module will provide you with a critical introduction to the study of criminal justice institutions, practices and participants. It will examine some of the main elements of responses to crime and victimisation, focusing on theories of punishment, imprisonment, rehabilitation and youth justice in the UK. It will also focus on current developments and emphases in criminal justice practice with topics such as desistance, reintegration and resettlement, victim-centred justice, restorative justice, treatment and evaluation of interventions (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy). Critical analysis and evaluation of theory, policy and practice will be embedded throughout the module.

Further information

Current Topics in Crime ( SSC11111 )

Current issues, debates, challenges and subjects in applied criminology and forensic psychology could include for example: narcissism; managerialism and criminal justice; victims rights and protection; stop and search policies; offender profiling; privatisation of prisons; domestic violence; globalisation, terrorism and human rights; recent developments in youth justice; recent developments in restorative justice theories and practices; green criminology; suicide; power dynamics in criminal justice; crimmigration; identity fraud; lie detection; personality and crime; biological approaches in psychology. Where relevant, topics will be underpinned by explanations of offending behaviour and victimisation. The module content will flexibly adhere to the different policy/practical developments at a national and international level.

Further information

Dissertation [40 Credits - 3 Trimesters] ( SSC11125 )

The dissertation is the culmination of the Masters Programme and will draw on your learning over the course of the Programme. The dissertation is studied independently with the assistance of a supervisor and is a chance for you to academically pursue an area of Applied Criminology/Forensic Psychology of particular interest. Dissertations can take a range of formats such as empirical research or a systematic review. The dissertation requires you to put into practice a range of skills developed over the course of the Programme such as: searching and critically reviewing national and international literature, developing a research proposal, applying theoretical frameworks, research design and ethics, data collection (qualitative, quantitative and mixed), data analysis, research writing and dissemination.

Further information

Evidence and Investigation ( PSY11104 )

1. To develop knowledge of UK criminal justice systems and the differences between them.2. To consider the role of psychologists within UK criminal justice systems.3. To provide a comprehensive overview of the interaction between psychology and the criminal justice system. 4. To develop a critical understanding of the role of psychological research in informing and enhancing practice.5. To consider differences between adversarial and inquisitorial legal systems.Indicative content includes: Eyewitness memory and identification of suspects; false and recovered memories; interviewing witnesses and suspects including vulnerable individuals; false confessions; false allegations; detection of deception; investigative and jury decision making; expert witnesses.

Further information

International and Comparative Criminology ( SSC11113 )

The first part of the module aims to engage you in the critical analysis of local and global responses to crime concerns and will explore: cybercrime; organised/corporate crime; terrorism; drugs and crime; human trafficking; international/global policing.

The second part of the module aims to engage you in the critical analysis of specific responses to crime within different jurisdictions, including Anglo-America, Scandinavia and low crime countries such as Saudi Arabia and Japan. Topics will include: how to conduct comparative research on crime and control; comparing criminal justice systems; comparative criminal justice policy making; comparative penal politics; comparative youth justice; comparative responses to victimisation.

Further information

Practical Forensic Psychology ( PSY11100 )

This module comprises two work streams.
Work stream 1: Risk in Forensic Populations
Risk in Forensic Populations will explore the biological, social, and psychological risk factors that contribute, both individually and through interacting with one another, to risk of violence and other anti-social behaviours, which may manifest in criminal and/or family law cases. You will learn about the Structured Professional Judgement (SPJ) approach to risk assessment in both criminal and civil cases, including the application of at least one SPJ risk assessment tool to a sample forensic case. You will develop the skills to construct, orally present, and be questioned in a mock multi-disciplinary risk management setting about, a formulation of a sample forensic case. A guest lecturer, who is an expert practitioner in their field, will present a critical evaluation of how risk is assessed, treated and managed in serious offenders in the UK. You will learn how to think and speak reflectively about your practice, and you will write a reflective diary entry relating to risk assessment and to risk management strategies in the UK.

Work stream 2: Witnesses
Witnesses will explore three investigative applications that are employed to obtain information from eyewitnesses: investigative interviewing (including UK models such as PEACE and PRICE), facial composite production, and eyewitness identification from CCTV footage. In each practical session you will develop a critical understanding of the psychological theories that underpin prescribed interviewing and identification practice. You will expand on this knowledge to explore and evaluate current trends in forensic research. In addition to your practical classes, you will engage with forensic policy and practice via guest lectures delivered by professional forensic practitioners.

Further information

Understanding and Responding to Crime ( SSC11124 )

This is indicative content and may change from year to year based on staffing and student feedback:This module provides a critical examination of the interweaving of politics, criminological theory and responses to crime (including but not limited to those in the criminal justice system). We begin with an overview of key criminological understandings of the causes of crime, setting the scene for theory which will be integrated throughout the module, before discussing the political dimensions of crime and the changing politics of crime control. The module then discusses policing and crime prevention, before addressing radical and recent ‘zemiological’ (the study of social harm) and abolitionist perspectives on crime. The module then considers policing, community safety, and criminal justice in their social, historical and political contexts, as well as policy developments in these fields and more radical and abolitionist perspectives. It concludes with a critical evaluation of ‘evidence-based’ responses to crime, helping to set the scene for you to start thinking about dissertation projects in Tri 2 and 3.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology?

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 (or equivalent) in a related subject (e.g. social sciences, criminology, psychology, sociology, law, humanities, forensic nursing, policing). Where possible, you should also seek to gain some relevant experience before applying.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience within the industry.

Can I get admission into Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.


If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Students From 2024/25 2025/26
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £7,280 £tba
Overseas £16,965 £tba
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


What can you do with a degree in Applied Criminology & Forensic Psychology?

By studying Applied Criminology & Forensic Psychology at Edinburgh Napier University, you will open the door to numerous and various career paths within the fields of criminal justice and psychology. This programme provides an advanced understanding of both criminal behaviour and psychological principles, equipping individuals with a diverse skill set for success.

If you are interested in crime-related research and policy, working within the criminal justice system to effect positive change, or working with justice-involved persons, this course may be right for you. You will develop a range of highly desirable transferable skills that are valuable not only to careers within justice but applicable more broadly across industries requiring critical thinking, research, problem solving and analytical abilities.

Our Alumni have  gone on to work with a range of organisations including Police Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies, third (voluntary) sector organisations such as Includem and Sacro, His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, and others have pursued careers in Academia. Below are just some of the roles you could go into with an MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology.

What does a Case Officer do?

A Case Officer typically handles a variety of responsibilities related to the processing and management of legal cases within the court system. The specific duties may vary depending on the level of the court (e.g., Sheriff court, High court) and the nature of the cases being handled.

Alumni currently hold Case Officer positions within the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service where they play a vital role in ensuring the effective and efficient operation of the court system. Managing the administrative aspects of legal cases with their work contributes to the fair and timely resolution of legal matters, which in turn supports the wellbeing of those involved in court cases.

Daily tasks and responsibilities in this role may include: 

  • Supporting court proceedings
  • Documentation and system management
  • Case management
  • Conflict resolution

What does a Policy Officer do?

Policy Officers play a crucial role in shaping the direction and operations of an organisation by ensuring that policies align with its mission, goals, and legal obligations. They often work closely with leadership, researchers, legal teams, and other relevant stakeholders to create policies that are well-informed, practical, and effective, protecting the public whilst ensuring the justice system is proportionate and fair and human rights upheld. Many alumni currently hold Policy Officer positions within local or national government or third-sector organisations.

Daily tasks and responsibilities in this role may include: 

  • Presenting ideas and gathering feedback
  • Problem-solving
  • Policy research, development, and analysis
  • Stakeholder engagement and relationship development

What does a Researcher do?

Researchers or Research Officers are valuable to a wide range of agencies/organisations, designing and conducting research which underpins services and interventions as well as informing policy. For example, you might work in the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, Violence Reduction Unit, or third sector organisations.

Daily tasks and responsibilities in this role may include: 

  • Designing and conducting research, including analysis
  • Consultation and engagement with stakeholders
  • Policy Analysis
  • Report writing


Police Scotland student placements at Torphicen Street Station sitting at a table talking to an officer