A degree in forensic psychology covers topics that link the psychological research base with the criminal justice system and other aspects of criminal behaviour. Degrees in forensic psychology are usually taken at masters level, however they are sometimes available at bachelors level. Of course, there are significant differences between the two.
Forensic psychologists often work in or with the courts. That’s judicial, not tennis (Photo: srqpix)
Bachelors degrees in forensic psychology
A bachelors degree is very similar to an other accredited BSc psychology degree. You will still cover a lot of ground within the subject, from the biological basis of behaviour, abnormal psychology, cognitive approaches, research methods, to conceptual and historical issues associated with the scientific study of the brain and behaviour. In a normal psychology degree, you are usually given several optional modules to choose from, particularly in the second and third years, of which forensic psychology might be one possible option. In a bachelors degree in forensic psychology, several of these optional degrees will cover forensic psychology. This allows you to get the bird’s eye view of the field that all psychology students get, as well as a more focused look at forensic psychology. You can then get a better idea of whether forensic psychology is for you, and if you do decide to continue your studies at masters level you’ll have a better chance of getting on the course, all other things being equal.
Masters degrees in forensic psychology
To get on a masters degree in forensic psychology, you’ll usually need to have a bachelors in psychology or equivalent. The topics you’ll cover here include the psychology of criminal behaviour, research issues in forensic psychology (recording and defining crime, for example), psychology and the courts (for example, for juries reach decisions, why eye-witness testimony is unreliable), and offender profiling (which isn’t as glamorous as they make it look on TV).
You’ll learn and be graded in the usual ways – lectures, group work, essays, exams, and so on. You’ll also have a large dissertation project to do related to forensic psychology.
Forensic psychology degrees online
If your schedule makes it hard for your to show up for lectures several times a week, see if you can find a forensic psychology degree online. Distance learning would mean you get all your course material via email, and you’d hand in your work the same way. In some cases you might get video conferencing with your tutors. Although you have to motivate yourself more with an online degree than you would with an on-site degree, if you really can’t make it to campus this is an option. Always ensure you’re studying at a reputable college or university offering accredited qualifications.
Career opportunities with a masters degree in forensic psychology obviously revolve around working with the police, the courts, prisons, probation service, or research in these areas.
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