Taught course

Criminal Psychology and Victimology (Distance Learning)

University of Portsmouth · School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject (Social Science, Humanities, Law, Psychology, or Management subject). Information Technology or science related subjects will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants with equivalent professional experience in a relevant organisation will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry


Course content


Explore what's behind the experiences of both offenders and victims of crime on this part-time Master's degree in Criminal Psychology and Victimology, studying at your own pace via distance learning.

You'll learn how taking a psychological approach, such as through offender profiling, can be the key to a criminal investigation. You'll look at different types of offending behaviour with a view to understanding those behind it and working with them to reduce rates of reoffending.

You'll also gain an insight into the challenges faced by victims of crime, and study the theoretical perspectives that inform our understanding of victimisation. You'll explore the wider historical and political contexts that influence victim-centred policy and legislation, gaining the skills you need to advocate for victims of crime anywhere within the criminal justice system.

As you develop your skills in data analysis, research, and critical and evaluative thinking, you'll also tailor your degree with your choice of topic from the psychology of investigations, missing persons investigations, and vulnerability, risk and resilience of victims of crime.

When you complete the course, you'll be ready to work on behalf of offenders or victims of crime and to achieve the best outcomes for them, within criminal justice agencies, related support services and collaborative partnerships.

Course highlights

  • Delve into the psychology of offending behaviour from the perspectives of causation, intervention and rehabilitation, while also assessing current legislation and placing a particular emphasis on reducing reoffending
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the policies and legislation relating to victims of crime, including victimology theory, the processes of victimisation, the development of reforms, and the often controversial relationship between state, offender and victim
  • Learn from expert academics from our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, many with previous experience as police officers, crime scene officers, probation officers and intelligence analysts
  • Be part of our community of researchers by getting involved with our criminology research groups, such as the Collaboration of Forensic Interviewing, the Probation, Prison and Penology research group, the Victimology and Ecological Justice research group and the Missing Persons research group
  • Complete a major project based on your chosen area of research, with the support of qualified and enthusiastic experts in the field

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Business and Law Career-Ready Programme. This support will continue for 5 years after you graduate.

Career support

You'll benefit from:

- Networking events

- Regular emails from the Career Ready Programme sharing job opportunities, application tips and events

- Applied projects with companies such as IBM, Boeing and Hampshire County Council

- Workshops to enhance your employability skills

- Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair

- 1-to-1 appointments

- CV and cover letter advice

- Interview preparation and practice

- Support starting your own business

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master's prepares you for

Criminal psychology draws on elements of psychology, criminology and criminal justice to study offending behaviour. Its aim is to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations and the way offenders are penalised and rehabilitated, as well as to reduce reoffending.

Victimology is about understanding and helping people when they have become the victim of a crime, exploring the ways society identifies and treats victims, and how to identify individuals who are most vulnerable or at a greater risk of being victimised.

Studying these two subjects in combination will give you an in-depth understanding of what drives those on both sides of the criminal justice system. Your skills will be invaluable for a career working with offenders or victims of crime, and in understanding the importance of human behaviour and decisions.

You'll graduate with insight into the difference criminal psychology can make solving and preventing crime, and the responsibilities involved in working with victims. Your knowledge will enable you to challenge existing criminal justice processes, policies and legislation, and to make improvements.

If you already work in the field of criminal justice, you'll be ready to pursue higher-level roles, or to break into a different area of the discipline. If you're preparing to start your career in criminal justice, you'll gain the knowledge and advanced research problem-solving skills you need to stand out to employers and contribute positively to justice system reform.

You could also go on to further study, or progress on to a graduate scheme such as PoliceNow or the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme.

Graduates of this course can go on to roles such as:
  • police or law enforcement officer
  • probation or prison officer
  • data analyst
  • intelligence analyst
  • cybersecurity
Graduates of this course can go on to work for organisations such as:
  • the Civil Service
  • national and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
  • Government agencies and departments internationally
  • probation and prison service
  • the Courts
  • local administration / authorities
  • private security companies
  • charities

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    part time
    24 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

University Admissions Centre
+44 (0)23 9284 5566