University of Chester

Programme Specification
Forensic Psychology BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Parkgate Road Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Psychology

QAA Subject Benchmarking Statement: Psychology (2010, 3rd ed.)

This programme is fully accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as conferring the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC).


Tuesday 4th October 2016

The programme aims to enable students to study a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited curriculum within a framework which is focused on both the core area of forensic psychology as well as on providing skills relevant to later employability. It will provide specialist modules in forensic psychology and, within these, equip students with a thorough knowledge of the professional responsibilities, ethical considerations and reflective practice that are so central to this profession.

As such it aims:

  • To introduce students to core psychological content which meets national subject benchmarking and the UK Quality Code for HE requirements and which enables them to satisfy requirements for eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS).
  • To provide for students with a particular interest in the area of forensic psychology through a coherent and distinctive teaching approach. This provision will be delivered via both the core BPS modules and in the specialist forensic modules.
  • To provide students with opportunities to engage with ‘cutting-edge’ theory and research in forensic psychology and allied areas, with a view to equipping them for employment and/or further study in this field.
  • To promote an applied focus to teaching in which students are able to benefit from the many existing links staff have with local and international organisations. The aim will be to foster their understanding of the applications of forensic psychology, as well as the theoretical, methodological and professional issues that underpin it.
  • To foster employability and aid students to gain and document ‘soft’, generic and employability skills to enable them to function effectively as postgraduate students in forensic psychology or graduate student in broader psychological and/or other fields.
  • To foster students’ understanding of ethical and professional approaches in study and work in forensic psychology, according to departmental, BPS  and other relevant professional body guidelines.
  • To promote students’ active learning through a variety of pedagogical approaches that include discursive and small group practice and that promote intellectual curiosity and problem-solving.

Key knowledge areas are a firm grasp of psychology as a science, and a systematic knowledge of the core areas of the discipline, as identified in section 27. In addition, on this forensic psychology programme, students should have an understanding of core concepts that underpin forensic psychology, its' theory and its' practice.

FHEQ Level 4; historical antecedents, basic theories and research in British Psychological Society curriculum will be covered in modules:

  • PS4005 Research Methods and Skills
  • PS4010 Core Topics in Psychology

Specialist forensic psychology knowledge will be covered in the introductory module:

  • PS4019 Forensic and Criminal Psychology

Students will also be able to choose TWO option modules (all 20cc) from those currently offered on our accredited undergraduate programme. These are:

  • PS4013 Psychological Well-Being
  • PS4016 Applications of Psychology in Education
  • PS4017 Psychology and Lifestyle
  • PS4018 The Secrets of the Brain
  • PS4020 The Psychology of the Arts, Culture and the Media

FHEQ Level 5;  an in-depth knowledge of four of the core BPS domains, taught in:

  • PS5015 Becoming a Psychological Researcher
  • PS5017 Understanding the Mind
  • PS5018 Social and Individual Psychology

Specialist knowledge at this level will focus on developing students' understanding of the applications of forensic psychology in the fields of criminal investigation and the legal system following detection. They will also be given the opportunity of working on a supervised small-group project with an applied forensic context. In addition students will take part in the Work-Based Learning module that occurs at level 5. Therefore, this knowledge will be imparted through the following modules:

  • PS5002 Forensic Psychology: Detection, Detention, Treatment and Trial
  • PS5001 Real World Applications in Forensic Psychology: Project Work
  • WB5101 Enhancing your Employability Through Work Based Learning

FHEQ Level 6; an in-depth knowledge of two further core BPS domains, taught in: 

  • PS6002 Development Psychology
  • PS6034 Biological Psychology

Specialist knowledge at this level will be provided in a module examining advanced applications of forensic psychology:

  • PS6009 Applications in Forensic Psychology - Specialist approaches

Students will, additionally, be able to choose ONE option from the current choices on our accredited undergraduate programme. These are:

  • PS6005 Recent Developments and Trends in Psychology
  • PS6007 Psychopathology
  • PS6011 Understanding Developmental Disorders
  • PS6015 Health Psychology
  • PS6022 Animal Psychology

In the core PS6008 Research Dissertation for Forensic Psychology module students will be capable of applying the research methods and analytical knowledge learned in previous years (using either quantitative or qualitative methodology) to complete a large-scale piece of independent research.

These skills are expected to develop across the degree course, progressing from an emphasis on clear description and understanding, to demonstration of analytical and critical skills by the end of the studies. The ability to reason scientifically, to synthesise information and data from various sources, to analyse, evaluate and interpret theories, and to formulate and test hypotheses will be demonstrated at all levels of the course.

FHEQ Level 4

  • Find, read and understand psychology-specific texts, including primary sources, and reference them using an appropriate referencing format (all modules, with an emphasis on developing these skills in PS4005)
  • Understand the scientific method including the formulation of hypotheses (PS4005)
  • Interpret basic data sets (PS4005)
  • Be able to write reports in a standard scientific format (PS4005)
  • Analyse data using appropriate level tests of relationship, association, and difference (PS4005)

FHEQ Level 5

  • The ability to synthesise material across a range of sources, looking for general principles to increase the power of analysis (all modules)
  • The ability to analyse data using complex tests of relationship and difference, and text-based analysis (PS5015)
  • Adapt writing styles for specific audiences (PS5002; PS5018)
  • Problem-solving (in many modules but especially PS5001)
  • The ability to critique a source (PS5002; PS5017; PS5018)

FHEQ Level 6

  • The ability to apply a critical and analytical stance to the reading and reporting of research and other texts (all modules)
  • To problem-solve and reason scientifically (all modules)
  • To comprehend and analyse complex data sets (PS6008)

Students will demonstrate the ability to manage their time, and to plan, conduct and report research in a variety of formats, with both quantitative and qualitative approaches to data. Students will gain experience in project management consistent with forensic contexts, as well as knowledge of the professional and ethical standards in that relate to research in this field. They will demonstrate numerical skills appropriate to the interpretation of large data sets; use of information technology (including use of specialist software for experimental work and for statistical analysis); the ability to work effectively in a team; the ability to plan and carry out work individually, keeping to deadlines; the ability to reflect upon their own learning and performance and enhance their abilities in the light of that reflection. Reflective practice in relation to its' use in forensic psychology will be especially focused upon

FHEQ Level 4

  • Time management (PS4005)
  • Reflection skills (PS4005)
  • An awareness of ethical issues raised when working with humans or animals (PS4005)
  • Problem-solving (PS4005; PS4010)
  • IT skills (all modules)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Project management (PS5001; PS5015)
  • The ability to work as a key member of a team (PS5001, PS5002; PS5018)
  • Enhanced reflection skills (PS5001; PS5002; PS5015)
  • Sensitivity to inter-personal factors and cooperation (PS5001, PS5002; PS5018)

FHEQ Level 6

  • The ability to plan, manage, conduct and report a complex individual project (PS6008)
  • Apply psychological knowledge to a range of real-world problems and issues (PS6008, PS6009)
  • The ability to reflect on and document own skills-base with a view to strengthening an employability portfolio (PS6008)

Communication skills will be developed throughout the three years of the degree programme with students being given the opportunity to develop both written and oral presentation skills throughout their assessments.


FHEQ Level 4

  • Describe and discuss psychological issues clearly and accurately both orally (PS4005) and in written work (all modules)
  • Adapt writing styles for specific audiences (PS4005 and PS4019)
  • Be able to write for an academic audience (all modules)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Develop a coherent and evidence-based argument (all modules)
  • Adapt writing styles for specific audiences (PS5001; PS5002; PS5015)
  • Communicate fluently with members of a team (PS5001; PS5018)
  • Report findings orally for a lay audience (PS5001; PS5018)

FHEQ Level 6

  • Fluent and accurate written communication, based on clear and critical argument and evidence-based reasoning (all modules)
  • Fluent oral communication suitable for an academic audience (PS6008)

Psychology, centered as it is on the study of brain and behaviour, covers a wide remit that involves the explanation of human behaviour from the  micro- to more macro-levels.  This breadth is reflected in the BPS curriculum which forms the core of this degree, and which is discussed in section 23.

However, the emphasis in this programme will be on the area of Forensic Psychology. This is an applied, professional route within the discipline and this degree therefore requires students to develop a thorough understanding of the applications of theory and practice that are central to this area as well as relevant to the discipline as a whole. The understanding of the theoretical approaches underpinning forensic psychology will be developed as the programme progresses. Students will also develop their understanding of key ethical, professional and reflective standards (as discussed in section 23).  The programme will provide students with opportunities to work with, and learn from, practitioners in forensic psychology and allied professions in both lecture and project-based modules.

Students will also be able to enhance their forensic specialism by opting for related areas in option modules if they wish to do so (e.g. PS4013 Psychological Wellbeing; PS6007 Psychopathology). In addition they will be conducting their dissertation work in an area of particular interest relating to forensic psychology which they feel will help them develop aspects of their employability.

The structure of the programme is represented in diagrammatical form in the programme handbook.  Part time students will follow the same structure but their programme of study will be spread over a six year period. This route has some flexibility but is also represented in the programme handbook.

Note: For students who wish to complete the GBC BPS route and spend a year abroad there is also the option of taking module PS5000 or WB5008. This allows them to spend a year abroad at a University linked to the Socrates / Erasmus programme (Europe, PS5000) or via the International Exchange Programme Scheme or Direct partners (other regions, including USA / Australia, WB5008) studying from the courses available at that institution. They would then return to Chester to undertake the rest of their degree programme. 


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PS4005 4 Research Methods and Skills 40 Comp
PS4010 4 Core Topics in Psychology 20 Comp
PS4013 4 Psychological Well-Being 20 Optional
PS4016 4 Applications of Psychology in Education 20 Optional
PS4017 4 Psychology and Lifestyle 20 Optional
PS4018 4 The Secrets of the Brain 20 Optional
PS4019 4 Forensic and Criminal Psychology 20 Comp
PS4020 4 The psychology of the arts, culture and media 20 Optional
PS5000 5 Year Abroad Placement (Psychology) 120 Optional
PS5001 5 Real World Applications in Forensic Psychology: Project Work 20 Comp
PS5002 5 Forensic Psychology: Detection, Detention, Treatment and Trial 20 Comp
PS5015 5 Becoming a Psychological Researcher 20 Comp
PS5017 5 Understanding The Mind 20 Comp
PS5018 5 Social & Individual Psychology 20 Comp
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Comp
PS6002 6 Developmental Psychology 20 Comp
PS6005 6 Recent Developments and Trends in Psychology 20 Optional
PS6007 6 Psychopathology 20 Optional
PS6008 6 Research Dissertation for Forensic Psychology 40 Comp
PS6009 6 Applications in Forensic Psychology: Specialist Approaches 20 Comp
PS6011 6 Understanding developmental disorders 20 Optional
PS6015 6 Health Psychology 20 Optional
PS6022 6 Animal Psychology 20 Optional
PS6034 6 Biological Psychology 20 Comp

Exit Awards:

Certificate of Higher Education

Level 4 - 120 credits

Diploma of Higher Education

Level 4 - 120 credits plus

Level 5 - 120 credits

Honours Degree

Level 4 - 120 credits plus

Level 5 - 120 credits plus

Level 6 - 120 credits

Not applicable

The core curriculum on programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).  To this end, students must take all compulsory modules. They must pass the dissertation module (PS6008) - it cannot be compensated. In order to achieve the Graduate Basis for Chartership with the BPS they must also achieve a minimum lower second class honours classification in their degree studies.

A minimum of 120 UCAS points, at A Level, together with GCSE mathematics and English at grade C or above.

Other equivalent UK qualifications will also be considered, for example BTEC National Diploma/Certificate: merit or distinction profile, BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM, BTEC Diploma: D*D*, Irish/Scottish Highers BBBB, International Baccalaureate 28 points, Access to HE Diploma, to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit, OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 1, OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDM, OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*.

Students from countries outside the UK are expected to have entry qualifications roughly equivalent to UK A Level for undergraduate study. Full details on equivalency are provided, by country, at the following link: 

In terms of English language requirements, entry to undergraduate degrees requires IELTS Academic for UKVI 6.0 overall with no element below 5.5 and good high school grades. Further details may be found here:



The core content meets the QAA subject benchmark statement that states that core knowledge domains are biological psychology, cognitive psychology, individual differences, developmental psychology, social psychology and research methods, as well as conceptual and historical issues (in this programme, and as permitted by the BPS, the latter are embedded within each core module). The QAA gives examples of topic areas to be covered:

  • Ethical, theoretical and practical research issues arising in each of the knowledge areas within psychology: 
  • Biological psychology, e.g., biological bases of behaviour, hormones and behaviour, behavioural genetics, neuropsychology, sociobiology and evolutionary psychology; 
  • Cognitive psychology, e.g., perception, learning, memory, thinking, language, consciousness and cognitive neuropsychology; 
  • Developmental psychology, e.g., childhood, adolescence and life-span development, development of attachment, social relations, cognitive and language development, social and cultural contexts of development; 
  • Personality and individual differences, e.g., abnormal and normal personality, psychological testing, intelligence, cognitive style, emotion, motivation and mood; 
  • Social psychology, e.g., social cognition, attribution, attitudes, group processes and intergroup relations, close relationships and social constructionism. 
  • Research methods in psychology, i.e., research design, the nature and appropriate statistical analysis of data, psychometrics and measurement techniques, and quantitative and qualitative methods.

In addition:

  • Knowledge both of the areas and of the links between them is expected, as is an understanding of appropriate applications. 

These subject areas are all introduced at Level 4 and further developed at either Level 5 or Level 6. It is expected by the QAA that more specialised areas will be offered, especially at higher levels of study, and there is provision for this in the non-core modules offered at levels 4 and 6. All elements of research methodology specified by the QAA are covered at levels 4 and 5 and applied as appropriate in the Level 6 dissertation and in project work at various levels.

Subject skills revolve around psychology, in particular forensic psychology, as science, and the ability to formulate appropriate research questions and testable hypotheses, conduct research appropriately, and report it effectively. Research methods are taught at Levels 4 and 5, and there are many opportunities to apply these in a range of modules, sometimes in group work, and culminating in the independent research project at Level 6. In addition, students are expected to:

  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues, recognising that psychology involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications; and
  • Integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology and recognise distinctive psychological approaches to relevant issues.

Within many modules, and particularly within the specialist forensic psychology ones, students will be encouraged to apply these multiple perspectives to problem-solving psychological issues. An example here would be the level 5 project module PS5001 Real World Applications in Forensic Psychology: Project work. The QAA document also notes that a knowledge of psychology in and of itself underpins skills such as, for example, clear communication and group dynamics, and students will be encouraged to reflect on these issues, sometimes in summative assessments (for example in PS4005).

Generic skills identified by the benchmarking statement include effective communication, use of data, IT literacy, information organisation and retrieval, critical handling of source material, teamwork, problem-solving and scientific reasoning, critical judgement, interpersonal sensitivity, and personal planning skills. These will be explicitly taught in many modules, and students encouraged to document their development in summative assessments in some modules (especially in the research methods modules PS4005 and PS5015).

It is intended that the Single Honours BSc Forensic Psychology programme at Chester University should be accredited by the British Psychology Society (BPS) as providing the basis for the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) and we will be seeking accreditation immediately after validation.  The students will therefore take existing validated modules that form the core curriculum and therefore conform to BPS requirements, which in turn reflect the subject benchmarks listed above. 

Learning and teaching:

A wide range of learning and teaching methods are used, including lectures, practical classes, seminars, individual tutorials, use of intranet-based materials, group work, guided reading, and self-directed learning. Group work is also utilized throughout, and students will be encouraged to reflect on their team-working skills. Opportunities will be provided for experiential learning, and group discussions.

A feature of the programme is its emphasis on forensic psychology. To this end, students are encouraged from the outset to develop their abilities in relation to self-reflection, and important element of forensic practice. This will be done via teaching in core research methods modules (e.g, PS4005 and PS5015) as well as within the more specialist forensic modules that will be taken. The importance of employability skills is also recognised and reflection on these will be encouraged. This will be achieved via the use of the online skills portfolios that are offered to students and their use with support from their personal academic tutor (PAT).

At Level 4, students entering the programme will do so at different levels of experience. Students are introduced to a range of university facilities and resources in induction week, when they also meet their PAT who will oversee their progress in a series of regular meetings. The teaching team will help them to develop their discursive skills, learning discrimination in the choice of reading materials and evidence, evidencing discourse and argument, and encouraging them to read widely in order to achieve a good knowledge base. To equip students as independent learners, time management, literature searching, independent writing skills, and numeracy will be explicitly taught in PS4005 Research Methods and Skills, as will an ethical and professional approach to research. Students will also begin to develop team-working and problem-solving skills in this module.

At Level 5, students will increasingly be encouraged to show evidence of synthesis of sources when constructing an academic argument. With continued understanding of research design and methodology in PS5015: Becoming a Psychological Researcher, they will be able to apply an increasingly critical approach to the reading of research studies to support their understanding of the literature. Critical understanding will be taught in several modules, and assessed in modules PS5002 Forensic Psychology: Detection, Detention, Treatment and Trial and PS5018 Social and Individual Psychology, in particular. The team-working introduced at Level 4 will be further developed in the module PS5001: Real World Applications in Forensic Psychology: Project Work where students will be expected to play a full part in the running of a group project. The year culminates with a work placement which allows students to develop their employability skills and gain new ones with input from employers.

At level 6, a strongly critical stance will be expected, and students will have the opportunity to engage systematically and critically with a body of evidence in PS6008 Research Dissertation for Forensic Psychology, as well as employ powers of time management and project management. In the core BPS modules they will be expected to apply an evidence-based approach to the writing of laboratory reports, critiquing previous literature and methodology. 

Assessment and feedback:

Feedback is available on all summative work, and there are opportunities for formative feedback and for draft reading in line with departmental policy. University level support is also available via the Study Skills Unit which provides both online and face-to-face support for teaching.

Subject benchmarks for psychology include provision for three elements: key knowledge domains (subject knowledge), subject-specific skills, and generic skills. The assessment strategy for the programme reflects these three elements. The assessment strategy is, therefore, based on providing students with a wide range of assessment methods in order to demonstrate the achievement of key learning outcomes, while allowing them to demonstrate capability in a range of skills domains. 

Subject knowledge

Subject knowledge is assessed through the provision of modules specifically designed to cover the core content required by QAA. Assessments are provided which test the knowledge of this core content both at level 4 and at either level 5 or 6. Each module has more than one assessment method, and core BPS areas are assessed using a range of written and oral work ensuring that subject benchmarks are met in the key knowledge domains.

Subject specific skills

Many of the subject specific skills required by psychology graduates concern psychology as a scientific discipline. Students should be able to generate hypotheses, conduct empirical studies, analyse data, present research findings, use evidence-based reasoning, and use a variety of psychology-specific tools. These skills are taught and assessed across all three levels of study, through a knowledge of research methods in PS4005, PS5015 and PS6008, but also through an understanding of the scientific literature which the student will encounter in their reading and discussions in all modules. In addition, the psychology graduate should be capable of carrying out an extensive piece of research, and in the first and second year of study they build the skills required to do this in PS6008. These skills are assessed by means of methodological exercises, laboratory reports and poster or oral presentations. In addition, students are required to apply multiple perspectives to issues, integrate ideas, evaluate patterns in behaviour, and understand the role of brain function in behaviour. These skills are assessed using essays, portfolios and examinations across a range of modules.

Generic skills

Psychology graduates are required to have good communication skills, evidenced in their written work, and in oral presentations. They should be computer literate at least to the extent of using computer packages to present all their work, and to comprehend data effectively, assessed in modules PS4005, PS5015, and PS6008. They must handle source material critically, problem-solve and reason scientifically, and make critical judgments. These are assessed in all modules. In addition students should develop such transferable skills as sensitivity to interpersonal factors and team working, assessed in PS5001, and personal planning and project management, assessed indirectly in many modules and in particular in PS5001 and PS6008.

The full range of assessment types is as follows (for core modules only):

Essay or literature review: PS4005; PS4010; PS5002; PS6008; PS6009

Laboratory report or portfolio of practical work: PS4005; PS5001; PS5015; PS5017; PS6002; PS6008; PS6034

Examination or class test: PS4005; PS4010; PS4019; PS002; PS5017; PS5018; PS6002; PS6009; PS6034

Oral presentation: PS4005; PS5001; PS5018; PS6008

Poster presentation: PS5001; PS5018

Research proposal and dissertation: PS5001; PS6008

Reflective account: PS4005; PS5015


The graduate characteristics of Single Honours Forensic Psychology students include subject knowledge, subject skills and generic skills as described in 28 above.  From this grounding, students are in a position to secure employment in a wide range of settings or proceed to postgraduate training that is the next stage in their becoming a chartered Forensic Psychologist.

It is intended that students who complete the approved programme with a minimum lower second class honours award will be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) and may wish to proceed to training for a range of professional psychology qualifications and other career paths.  It is naturally expected that that which will be of most interest to students from this course will be the forensic psychology route but this may not always be the case and this degree does not preclude its' graduates from seeking employment in a wide range of settings.

Within the forensic context, chartered forensic psychologists work in a wide range of settings and agencies. The largest single employer of forensic psychologists in the UK is the HM Prison Service. Forensic psychologists are also be employed rehabilitation units, secure hospitals, the social services and in university departments. Some practitioners also go into private consultancy.  Tasks for forensic psychologists may include; piloting and implementing treatment programmes, modifying offender behaviour, responding to the changing needs of staff and prisoners as well as reducing stress for staff and prisoners. Forensic psychologist also provide hard research evidence to support practice, including undertaking statistical analysis for prisoner profiling, giving evidence in court plus advising parole boards and mental health tribunals (for more information see )

Apart from post-graduate training in forensic psychology or other applied fields (e.g. in clinical, counselling, educational, or health psychology), students may enter such diverse fields as teaching, business, health or care work, personnel, management and financial services.  

Psychology graduates are well placed in the employment market by virtue of their enhanced understanding of human behaviour in work and other situations, and the extensive practice in language-based and quantitative skills which is gained as a psychology undergraduate.  Psychology graduates will have well-developed skills in research and handling data, together with team working, problem solving and the analysis of complex information. 


The University of Chester is committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity both as an employer and an educational institution.  For this purpose it has an Equal Opportunities Policy and appropriate codes of practice to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The Policy covers discrimination in relation to the protected characteristics of disability, age, race, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marriage and civil partnership and gender reassignment. The policy relates to all aspects of employment, academic and student experience. It is implemented by heads of department reporting to a designated member of the Senior Management Team. Support is provided by the Dean of Students and the Director of HRM in consultation with bodies such as the Equality Forum.

The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the University of Chester have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job.  The policy also aims to eliminate unlawful or unfair discrimination. 

The objective of the policy is a University which is open to all sections of the community, where people from all groups in society are represented at all levels, and in whose activities all members of staff and all its students can participate fully and equally for the benefit of the University of Chester.

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