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Forensic Psychology Practice Doctorate (ForenPsyD)

Start date
3 years full-time, 4 years part-time for those employed in a forensic setting, employee sponsored, or self-funded,
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

£12,600 FT (UK students)
£23,310 FT (International Students)

More detail

Our Forensic Psychology Practice Doctorate (ForenPsyD) confers the award of Doctorate in Forensic Psychology Practice and provides eligibility for BPS Chartered Psychology status, eligibility to apply for HCPC registration as a Forensic Psychologist, and full membership of the Division of Forensic

It is open only to psychology graduates who are registered with the BPS and who have the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC status). Candidates will also need to have some prior experience of working in a forensic setting. Please see entry requirements for further information. 

Programme aims

The programme aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a forensic psychologist; to analyse offending behaviour and its effect on victims; to manage, assess and plan treatment strategies for both victims and offenders; and to work as an expert providing consultancy, professional reports, and training. An evidence-based approach to forensic practice is emphasised, taking into consideration issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion, with the objective of developing skills in practice, research, and evaluation.

The doctorate can be completed on a full-time (3 years) or part-time (4 years) basis, and combines academic teaching, research, and professional training through the completion of forensic practice placements. Trainees will undertake 3 x 120-day practice placements across the course, evidencing work across a range of settings and with different populations.

Full-time option

The full-time option runs over three years. Placements are sourced and arranged by the course staff, who will discuss with the trainee prior experience, placement preferences and learning opportunities, as well as practicalities such as commutability. The course benefits from many long-standing relationships with practitioners in the field, and we have a range of different placements on offer across the country.  

Part-time option

The programme runs part time over four years, to be sponsored (or self-funded) by employers who are willing to supervise employees in the workplace throughout the course. Please note: prior to acceptance on to the programme, University staff must be satisfied that the placement setting also meets the requirements of the course, in terms of providing sufficient breadth of experience. University teaching will be in line with those on the full-time programme, but placement days may extend across the 4 years, and thesis submission at the end of the 4th rather than 3rd year.

I discovered that the course was structured in such a way that I felt nurtured and supported into the best practitioner I could be. I received outstanding supervision from both an academic and practitioner viewpoint and the tutors on the ForenPsyD ensured that I was placed on appropriate and meaningful placements that shaped the course of my practice.

Dr Kathryn Rowsell, Highly Specialised Forensic Psychologist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (Graduated 2021)

Why study this course?

The programme, which sits within the Centre for Applied Psychology, has a long and distinguished history and was the first doctorate in forensic psychology to be established in the UK. The course benefits from having a number of HCPC registered practitioner psychologists on the staff team (who continue to practice), and from the input of many visiting lecturers who are experts in their field. Applying theory to practice is a key focus on the course.

The course boasts an impressive post-training employment record, with most trainees being offered employment by their placement setting in their final year. The course continues to hold a high reputation and Birmingham is regarded as one of the leading Universities in the UK.

Involvement of Experts by Experience

In the Centre for Applied Psychology, we are committed to involving experts by experience in all the different aspects relevant to our teaching and research. The Experts by Experience Steering Committee (EBESC) is a group that meets regularly to discuss, organise and support the work of experts by experience linked to the Forensic Psychology Doctorate Programme. EBESC comprises members from various backgrounds, including local experts by experience who contribute to the course and staff from the Centre for Applied Psychology.

The committee contributes to our different courses in various ways:

  • Contributing to teaching, including training workshops
  • Reviewing, supporting, designing and contributing to research projects
  • Co-ordinating feedback in the course subcommittee
  • Involvement in the course admissions process


Both theory and practice are set in the context of the legal and institutional systems through which offenders and victims are managed.

Programme modules include:

  • Psychological Theories and the Understanding of Crime
  • Working with Offenders
  • Psychology, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
  • Assessment Issues (Offenders and Victims)
  • Forensic Psychotherapy and Forensic Issues
  • Psychology and the Court System
  • Forensic Practice Placements
  • Research Systematic Literature Review
  • Case Study Methods
  • Research Study Methods
  • Professional Writing, Training and Presentation
  • Development of Psychometric Measures
  • Advanced Research and Evaluation Methods

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees for 2024/25

Please note that fees are per annum.

  • Code 291A: UK students: £12,600 full-time
  • Code 292A: UK students: part-time

    Years 1 & 2: £12,600
    Year 3: £6,300
    Year 4: £6,300

  • Code 291A: International students: £23,310 full-time 

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

Find out about scholarships for international students. Please note: Some practice placements offer bursaries.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Funding, Graduation & Awards via the online enquiries system.

How To Apply

Applications for 2024 entry are now closed.  Interviews will be held on 23-25 April inclusive 2024.

  • The interview will involve academic staff, practitioners from relevant services, and experts by experience.   
  • Candidates will also sit formal written tests on the day of their interview.

Please note: We do not require a research proposal for your application, although you may wish to briefly specify a research idea if you have one you are particularly keen to pursue. If the application will not progress on the system without supervisor details, please add in Dr Caroline Oliver as supervisor and mention any topic area. Projects are not arranged until trainees have started the course.

Our Standard Requirements


  • A good Honours degree (2:1 or above) in Psychology that confers the GBC (Graduate Basis for Chartership) with the BPS (British Psychological Society).
  • Relevant forensic experience, ideally as an assistant psychologist. Although we do not stipulate the type or amount of relevant experience, ideally, applicants need to demonstrate that they have been applying psychological principles in a forensic setting, preferably under the supervision of a psychologist.
  • Trainees must complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously the Criminal Records Bureau check) before attending any placement. This course is exempt from the ‘Rehabilitation of Offenders Act’ and no convictions are considered ‘spent’, which means they must be declared.

NB: Qualifications must be completed and the required experience gained at the point of application.


  • A good Honours degree (2:1 or above) in Psychology that confers the GBC (Graduate Basis for Chartership) with the BPS (British Psychological Society) and must be working in a forensic setting.
  • Must be working in a relevant forensic setting and be given the title ‘Trainee Forensic Psychologist’ in their place of work. Trainees must also have access to weekly supervision by a qualified forensic psychologist in their workplace. The applicant’s employer must be willing to: allow them to attend University for teaching (every Thursday during term time + periods of block teach); to have time to work on their thesis elements (typically one day a week): as well as opportunities to rotate within the service and work with different client groups, in order to fulfil the requisite breadth of experience.
  • Trainees must complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously the Criminal Records Bureau check) before attending any placement. This course is exempt from the ‘Rehabilitation of Offenders Act’ and no convictions are considered ‘spent’, which means they must be declared.

International Requirements

Selection Procedure

Our selection process is as follows:

  1. Applications are made via the University Admissions Portal. Apply now
  2. Applicants who meet our minimum criteria are short-listed according to information presented on the application form. This includes elements such as academic/research competence and relevant experience. Approximately 30 short-listed candidates are invited to attend the University of Birmingham for half a day (morning or afternoon), which includes a half-hour interview, and written exercises designed to assess competence in research and writing. Experts by experience and course staff are involved in the interview process. After the final interview date, offers are made to the most suitable candidates subject to satisfactory DBS disclosure and Health and Immunisation checks. Please note: the offer process at the University of Birmingham has several steps, and the final formal offer will be made by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team. Approximately 10 candidates are ultimately accepted on to the course.

Equal opportunities

We are very conscious of being situated in an area of rich ethnic and cultural diversity, and the course particularly welcomes applications from people from ethnic minority groups.  We take measures to ensure that no applicant is discriminated against on the grounds of age, social class, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion. 

We are actively addressing issues of race and diversity in the curriculum and in all aspects of the course. We do not currently use equal opportunities data during the selection process,  however, we are actively considering how best to include contextual admissions values in our selection procedures, and although we don’t yet have a formal position on this, we will update this webpage with any developments.

Please note that if you have given your consent, we may use equal opportunities data collected by the University during selection to inform future selection strategies.

International Students

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

Candidates must comply with the Health and Care Professions Council requirements of English language proficiency (Standard equivalent to IELTS level 7.0 with no element below 6.5).

  • IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 95 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 76 with no less than 67 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced or Proficiency – minimum overall score of 185, with no less than 176 in any component

The programme is examined by continuous assessment, with students completing a series of academic and practice-based assignments over the three (or four) years.

In addition to lectures, seminars, and small group discussions, you will undertake a doctoral level research project, which has real-world relevance, and is usually linked to current research within the University, but may also be linked to other psychology departments or organisations. In addition to your time at the University, you are expected to spend three days a week in a forensic practice placement (or employed in a forensic setting) and one day a week on research for 40 weeks each year. You will have the chance to work with different offender groups (e.g. adults, young people, those with intellectual disabilities) both in community and institutional environments. 

The syllabus includes training in:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Computer use for academic purposes
  • The history and philosophy of psychological science and the critical review of current research methods in psychology
  • Presenting information in written, oral, poster and web-based formats
  • The professional skills needed for research (such as applying for ethical approval for research projects, exploiting research findings and applying for research funds)

Assessment Methods

This programme is examined by continuous assessment, with you completing a series of assignments, and passing practice placements. On completion of your doctorate research in your final year, you will receive a viva voce examination.

Successful applicants are registered on the Masters component for the first two years of the course.  Progression to the doctorate component is dependent on successful completion of course assignments (minimum standards are set) and forensic placements.  If this is not achieved, trainees may leave with a Masters in Forensic Psychology Practice, that does not confer eligibility to apply to the Health and Care Professions Council but does meet Stage 1 of BPS requirements and can apply for a reduction in stage 2 requirements.

This programme is subject to the Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise regulations, which you are required to sign at the start of the course.

The programme aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a forensic psychologist; to analyse offending behaviour and its effects on victims; to manage, assess and plan treatment strategies for both victims and offenders; and to work as an expert providing professional reports and training. At the end of the course you will be eligible to apply for chartered status with the BPS and to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Forensic Psychologist. You will also hold the title of ‘Doctor’.

The course will equip you to work for employers such as the NHS, HMPPS, third sector, and private organisations, as a Registered Forensic Psychologist.