MSc

Forensic Mental Health

Student using laptop
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate taught
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time (day)
  • Location: City site
  • Starting: September 2016
  • Course duration: 1 / 2 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information

The MSc Forensic Mental Health is ideal if you are currently employed in / or  desire to be employed in a forensic mental health setting. The course is designed to equip you with an extensive knowledge of theoretical and practical issues in forensic mental health and a critical awareness of the current philosophical, theoretical and methodological problems, debates and insights that shape the discipline. During the course you'll also gain a critical appreciation of ethical, cultural, and legal issues arising from mental health practice and research.

What you'll study

This masters degree is ideal if you are currently employed in / or who desire to be employed in a forensic, forensic mental health, or mental health setting, for example:

  • prisons
  • secure hospitals
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Police Force
  • courts.

The course is designed to provide you with a combination of applied and research skills key to work in a forensic mental health setting.

During the course you'll engage in a piece of consultancy for an external organisation working in the areas of mental health or psychological well-being. This affords excellent networking opportunities. Many students also engage in volunteering opportunities to work in these areas facilitated by the University.

  • Course modules

    Explanations of Crime, Criminal Behaviour and Victimology

    The context of practice in forensic psychology is considered in this module. You'll be provided with a critical introduction to a range of conceptual accounts of crime, criminal behaviour and victimology. Ethics, diversity issues, reflective-practitioner and the science-practitioner model will also be core to this module.

    This module will provide a conceptual basis for understanding crime, criminal behaviour and victimisation, and will provide the evidence and theoretical basis for more applied modules such as Assessment, Formulation and Treatment and Professional Forensic Practice.  In brief this module will cover the philosophical, historical and social meaning of crime, as well as the methodological shortcomings associated with measuring crime. A range of theoretical explanations of criminal behaviour and victimisation will be critically reviewed, including psychological models associated with adults, children and violent and sexual offending. In addition, you'll gain in depth knowledge and begin to develop your professional identity through the opportunity to investigate individually chosen psychological explanations of criminal behaviour and victimisations in greater detail.

    Prison, Rehabilitation and Aftercare

    The application of psychology in the punishment, rehabilitation and aftercare of offenders and victims will be critically explored.  You'll gain a critical appreciation of the effects of punishment and rehabilitation, and the role of psychology in developing, delivering and evaluating interventions with offenders and victims.

    This module will permit you to develop current knowledge of the relevant evidence base and an understanding of the ethical and legal factors influencing professional forensic practice in the justice system, particularly post-sentencing.  This module considers philosophical, theoretical, methodological and practical issues associated with deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, and restitution. Contemporary punishment, rehabilitative and aftercare initiatives will be critically considered and located within legal statutes, in particular imprisonment, Offending Behaviour Programmes, Community Treatment, Hospital Treatment and Restorative Justice Initiatives.

    Clinical Research Methods
    This module will consider the components of good practice for the conduct of psychological research in clinical settings, as well as offering you the opportunity to experience some research methods that might be used within that context. The responsibilities of psychological researchers will be explored in relation to key governance issues such as ethics, data protection, risk management etc. There will be a consideration of the differences between research and other service areas that use research methods for example, auditing, service evaluation, and development. The module will therefore encourage you to explore the key opportunities and challenges faced when conducting research in real-world clinical settings, and will inspire creative approaches to designing and implementing clinically relevant research activities.

    Research and Professional Skills

    This module will introduce you to a range of key research and research dissemination skills necessary for the pursuit of an academic or professional career in psychology. The main aim of the module will be to ensure that you are capable of planning, carrying out, and seeking funding for ethically sound, independent research projects in a psychological setting, and that you are able to present the results of that research in a variety of media for both professional and non-professional audiences. The module will also focus on the development of skills to enhance your employability and ensure you are equipped to best present yourself to prospective employers both within and outside of psychology.

    Contemporary Issues in Mental Health

    This module explores a number of advanced contemporary topics or ‘mini-modules’ in psychological well-being and mental health. The specific module topics change periodically in the spirit of the title ‘Contemporary Issues in…’ and will reflect cutting edge issues in research and practice.  Each mini-module has its own set of aims, which will normally be one or more of the following:

    • To provide a detailed and critical exploration of one or more contemporary issues which are currently pertinent to a specific aspect of psychological well-being or mental health.
    • To critically explore contemporary debates relevant to specified topics within psychological well-being or mental health.
    • To critically consider the practice based implications of theoretical understandings of specified contemporary issues within mental health.

    In addition the module aims to:

    • Critically consider overarching contemporary issues that draw across mini-modules.
    • Consolidate learning from across mini-modules, allowing critical comparisons and synergistic conclusions to be drawn.

    This module will provide you with four mini-modules led by different members of staff who have specific and appropriate areas of expertise within psychological well-being and mental health. One mini-module will always address ‘Contemporary legal issues in mental health’ however the other three mini-modules will change from year to year depending on the contemporary mental health landscape and the teaching expertise of provisioning staff. Examples of such topics of expertise include:

    • Psychoses
    • Coping
    • Psychological responses to traumatic events
    • Addiction
    • Work-life balance
    • Aging and dementia
    • Anti-social behaviour
    • Positive psychology.

    In addition overarching module content is likely to include:

    • Competing theoretical perspectives on topics (for example, biological, cultural, environmental, interactionist perspectives).
    • Critical evaluation of both research and practitioner literatures.
    • Overarching philosophical debates in the areas of psychological well-being and mental health.
    • Ethical, definitional and measurement issues relating to specific diagnoses.

    Theory and Application to Mental Health

    You'll be introduced to key theories underpinning research and practice in mental health and illness, including both traditional and more contemporary perspectives. Theories will be examined against their own socio-historic context and the contemporary context, facilitating a critical and comparative evaluation of relevant theories. In addition, you'll be introduced to methodological limitations and implications of these traditional and contemporary theories.

    You'll then be provided with the opportunity to critically apply your theoretical understanding to 'real world' experiences and problems situated within mental health contexts. You will be able to work in teams, developing a useful skill set for use in practice and employment settings. The tasks provided will enable you to understand how psychological knowledge interacts with knowledge from other disciplines to form holistic critical understandings useful in applied contexts

    The theoretical strand of the module will provide an introduction to pertinent theories in mental health. This will include a consideration of models such as the medical model, categorisation models (e.g. the rise of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), bio-psychosocial model and constructivist models. You will develop a breadth of general knowledge related to explanatory theories of mental health and illness, in addition to critical approaches to these theories. This will give you a firm grounding relating to theories in this area enabling you to then apply these to real world situations.

    The application strand of the module will use enquiry-based learning methods to give you an experience of professional project work across a range of applied areas of interest for mental health. You'll receive an enquiry-task from a set of professional vignettes which originate from real mental health related organisations but are re-framed by the module team to work appropriately as teaching materials and as the basis for the assessment.

    This will synthesise the theoretical and evidentiary literatures that have been drawn upon in order to address the identified learning issues. The presentation will also contain recommendations of how this theory and evidence can be applied within, and have a meaningful impact for, the organisation that supplied their particular vignette. The scenarios are open-ended and may be addressed using the in-depth knowledge and understanding encountered earlier in the course, not only from this module but form other modules on the course (e.g. from methods, theory, practice oriented modules), or by using novel critical understandings (researched and developed by the project team).

    Specialist Psychology Essay

    This module provides you with the opportunity to comprehensively explore an area of interest in depth, within either Psychological Well-being, Mental Health or Forensic Psychology under the supervision of a member of staff who has expertise within that field. You will be supervised through the small group tutorial programme and will have opportunities to discuss your progress with tutors and peers. The module aims to provide an opportunity for you to:

    • Critically examine and have a critical awareness of current psychology theory and research related to Psychological Well-being, Mental Health or Forensic Psychology.
    • Develop critical thinking and analytical skills relevant for the integration and understanding of psychological issues and constructs in a particular area of Psychological Well-being, Mental Health or Forensic Psychology.

    You'll need to select a topic which focuses on critical examination of a specific area within Psychological Well-being, Mental Health or Forensic Psychology. The particular area will be determined by your individual interests but might consider a specific area of empirical research, philosophical or methodological underpinnings, or might take a more applied focus. Final specific essay titles will be agreed in negotiation between you and your supervisor.

    Research project / Dissertation

    Under the supervision of a research active member of staff, this module enables you to comprehensively demonstrate your research abilities through a chosen topic.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

Act as a consultant psychologist providing psychological solutions to real-world problems set by external organisations.

How you’re taught

The course is delivered through lectures, interactive workshops, small-group teaching and learning and one-on-one supervision by academic staff with considerable experience of working within a variety of forensic contexts in the UK.

This taught course is supported by a team of approachable staff and will be delivered through lectures, workshops and small reflective practice groups. All staff teaching on the course are research active in their field of interest and you'll have access to the extensive facilities within the Department of Psychology and the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). For individuals who do not wish to complete the MSc, a postgraduate certificate in Forensic Mental Health will be offered.

The course team consists of practitioners and academics who each have considerable experience working within a range of forensic contexts in the UK. The MSc is aligned with the Sexual Crimes and Misconduct Research Unit (SOCAMRU) at NTU, which includes active researchers currently engaged in collaborative work with:

  • HM Prison Service
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • High Secure Hospitals
  • Police Service.

You may also be interested in finding out about our Addiction and Aberrant Behaviours, Wellbeing research groups and the Emergency Services Research Unit.

International students in psychology can also access additional language and study skills support, as well as help in acclimatising, via our own International Student Support Officer.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways and on a modular basis through:

  • coursework
  • essays
  • literature reviews
  • oral presentations
  • professional reports.

You will also be assessed through your research project / dissertation work and your specialist essay work, which is written up as an academic article suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

A supportive and active research environment

Throughout the course you will benefit from research-informed teaching. Psychology at NTU has an established international research reputation and is one of the top risers in the REF 2014 research rankings. The 2014 Assessment also showed:

  • 60% of our research outputs were considered to be internationally excellent or world leading in REF 2014
  • 100% of our research impact is internationally excellent with 73% described as world leading
  • Our research impact and output is the highest of any UK psychology department with an equivalent research environment.

Find out more about our 2014 Research Excellence Framework results.

Learn from a research-active team which includes members of the Sexual Crimes and Misconduct Research Unit.

Careers and employability

Your future career in forensic mental health

When you graduate with an MSc Forensic Mental Health you will have the necessary skills to pursue professional careers in a range of mental health, forensic mental health, or forensic settings. You may choose to study this course if you already work in this area and hope to improve your prospects of promotion and career progression.

You may also want to pursue an academic and / or research career in a number of academic disciplines following graduation (by working as a research assistant or associate, for example, or by studying for a PhD). Psychology graduates with BPS GBR status may also be interested in this course if they are considering doctoral study towards a career as a clinical or counselling psychologist.

The majority of graduates have tended to pursue, or to return to, applied employment in a range of forensic mental health settings. Recent graduates have pursued careers as a:

  • Deputy charge nurse
  • Mental health support worker
  • Criminal justice worker.

*Data extracted from the Nottingham Trent University Graduate Destinations Database 2009-10 to 2013-14

You may also want to pursue a career in the prison service or secure hospitals.

Indeed, your qualification in Forensic Mental Health is likely to be popular with a whole range of potential employers because, in addition to possessing in-depth theoretical knowledge of a range of mental health and forensic issues, you will also have demonstrated an ability to write essays and reports and to talk and present in front of other people (amongst other transferable skills). You will also be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be independent, ethical and culturally sensitive in your future application of psychology.

Careers and job application advice is available to all our postgraduate students and is provided on a one-to-one basis by a subject specialist within the Department, supported by the university-wide careers service. We're very proud of the achievements of our many graduates and look forward to helping you graduate to a successful career.

Entry requirements

  • You will need an undergraduate degree (minimum 2.2) in Psychology or an allied discipline such as social science, nursing, health related practice, or law or other recognised equivalent qualification.
  • Applicants without such qualifications will be considered on an individual basis but will be required to demonstrate how their experiences and knowledge and / or their professional qualifications (such as RMN, RN) would enable them to study this course at Masters level in their Personal Statement.

The application form requires a written statement in which you should outline the reasons for wishing to undertake the MSc Forensic Mental Health. We will be looking to ensure that you have a sound rationale for joining the course based on a realistic appreciation of the materials to be studied and the related practice areas.

If you are unsure of your status and / or would like an informal discussion with the Course Leader, please contact us.

  • You will need an undergraduate degree (minimum 2.2) in Psychology or an allied discipline such as social science, nursing, health related practice, or law or other recognised equivalent qualification.
  • Applicants without such qualifications will be considered on an individual basis but will be required to demonstrate how their experiences and knowledge and / or their professional qualifications (such as RMN, RN) would enable them to study this course at Masters level in their Personal Statement.

The application form requires a written statement in which you should outline the reasons for wishing to undertake the MSc Forensic Mental Health. We will be looking to ensure that you have a sound rationale for joining the course based on a realistic appreciation of the materials to be studied and the related practice areas.

If you are unsure of your status and / or would like an informal discussion with the Course Leader, please contact us.

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our postgraduate degrees. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

Pre-masters and foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation or pre-masters course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our foundation and pre-masters courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

For a list of our language requirements please visit our English language page.

If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements please visit our pre-sessional English course page.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please contact our international team for advice.

International students in psychology can also access additional language and study skills support, as well as help in acclimatising, via our own International Student Support Officer.

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page to complete your application. You can apply for this course throughout the year. Most of our postgraduate courses are popular and fill up quickly though, so apply as soon as you can.

Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application
Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. Make sure you include as much information as possible, including uploading evidence of results already achieved, as well as a personal statement.

Keeping up to date
After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder. You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU in our postgraduates’ guide. Here you’ll find advice about how to write a good personal statement and much more.

Good luck with your application!

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) formally known as a Criminal Record Bureau check

Many students choose to collect research data in the UK as part of their projects. You may be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service check depending on your project topic.

Start dates
The MSc Forensic Mental Health starts in late September. A dedicated induction day is provided for all students which introduces you to your course, to your teaching teams and to the university facilities. The day ends with an informal social event.

The course is completed in one year of full-time study (your final piece of coursework is submitted in late August) or two years part-time. The teaching terms run from late September to Christmas and then from January to Easter. Part-time students attend for two of the three days only.

Open days
The School of Social Sciences holds open events throughout the year. Come along and learn more about our courses, speak to programme leaders and find out about studying with the School. To find out more about these events visit the School of Social Sciences website.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Apply directly to the University online using the NTU online application portal.

Apply for your course as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here you need to plan this into your application.

Keeping up to date
After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) formally known as a Criminal Record Bureau check

Many students from overseas choose to collect research data in the UK as part of their projects. DBS checks only cover students from the UK, so unless you have been resident in the UK for five years or more, we will need a criminal record check from your home country if you plan to work with vulnerable populations. Checks from overseas can sometimes be referred to by a variety of names such as a Police Check or a Good Behaviour Record. To find out what it is called in your home country and how to apply for one, please visit the government website.

If you are an overseas student and are planning to collect data for your research project from vulnerable populations in your home country, you are advised to apply for a home police check to support your research. You will need to demonstrate in your ethics form that you have met all the requirements of your home country to work with vulnerable populations.

If you are unable to obtain a home Police Check and still wish to work with vulnerable populations in your home country, discuss this with your Course Leader in the first instance. It will need to be made clear in your written correspondence with any participants / organisations that the University has been unable to engage with any disclosure and barring service checks prior to you undertaking your research.

Once you have obtained your police check, a copy of the documentation (in English) should be passed to the relevant course administrator in the School of Social Sciences Office.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding page will answer your questions.

You may be able to get a competitive scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduate funding page for information about postgraduate funding opportunities.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

Please visit our postgraduate fees page for further information on course fees.

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study on eligible courses at the University.

For more information on these and other opportunities for funding please visit our international scholarships page.

For information on how to pay your fees to the University please visit our international fee payment page.

Prestigious postgraduate scholarships are available. Find out more on our postgraduate scholarships webpage.

Still need help?

School of Social Sciences enquiries
+44 (0)115 848 4460