This degree has three stages, each comprising two 60-credit modules.
- At Stage 1 you’ll be introduced to core academic skills and concepts in the social sciences and psychology.
- At Stage 2 you'll explore a wide range of real-life problems and issues to which psychology has been applied, along with a variety of research and practical skills used by professional psychologists.
- Finally, at Stage 3, you'll specialise in psychology as it has been applied to criminal justice contexts, including counselling and forensic psychology in prisons. You'll complete your degree with an independent research project.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
Stage 1 provides a firm foundation for more specialised study in forensic psychology, and develops essential study skills. You’ll begin by gaining a fascinating overview of the major social science disciplines. This will be followed by exploring how psychologists study our thinking and behaviour – and how academic research can be applied in real-life settings.
At Stage 2, you’ll investigate a range of psychological theories and research that relate to real-world issues and everyday problems – including group behaviour and crowd violence, prejudice and discrimination, obedience and conformity. You’ll also learn about a wide variety of research methods used to explore these issues and undertake your own supervised research projects.
At Stage 3, you’ll begin by focusing on counselling and forensic psychology, taking an applied approach to issues such as counselling vulnerable clients and working with offenders. In the final module you'll further explore the questions psychologists ask, the methods they choose to answer them and complete your degree with an independent research project.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BSc (Honours) Forensic Psychology uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and producing diagrams or screenshots
- undertaking practical work
- finding external/third party material online
- using specialist software (for example SPSS software for statistical analysis).
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Forensic Psychology degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Skills for career development
As well as specific knowledge about forensic psychology, this degree course will help you to develop many transferable and work-related skills that are highly valued by employers. These include:
- effective team-working
- independent and critical thinking
- IT and data handling
- analysing and evaluating diverse sources of information, including qualitative and quantitative data
- designing and carrying out research projects, and presenting their findings
- problem-solving and reasoning
- application of learning to real world problems and situations
- independent learning.
This degree is relevant to a broad range of careers. This includes working within the criminal justice system, such as the prison and probation services, and organisations concerned with the care and resettlement of offenders, victim support, crime prevention, social care and social justice.
Please note that this degree does not qualify you to practise as a forensic psychologist – although it provides ideal preparation for the additional training required.
A career as a professional psychologist in the applied areas of psychology will require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree – for which this degree course provides useful preparation.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulated titles include:
- clinical psychologist
- counselling psychologist
- educational psychologist
- forensic psychologist
- health psychologist
- occupational psychologist
- sports and exercise psychologist.
This degree is designed to deliver the requirements for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). To be eligible for GBC you must achieve a 2.2 or higher for this qualification.
There are many other types of career for which the knowledge and skills that you will develop as a graduate may be useful such as:
- the health professions
- human resources
Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the website are available to see at any time, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. This degree does not provide direct entry to the career fields listed, but it may ease access and increase your employability in relation to them, and it enhances prospects for progression once you are qualified to enter them. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- forensic psychologist
- clinical psychologist
- police officer
- prison officer
- probation worker
- social worker
- youth worker
- human resources manager.