Spotlight on: BSc (Hons) Criminal Psychology


29th Jan 2020


The field of criminal psychology is one of the fastest growing sectors, with experts using detailed knowledge and theoretical application to get inside the mind of the criminal. A combination of evidence-based practice and psychological theory is being increasingly used to identify behavioural patterns in offenders using this information as a way of tackling crime levels.

On our BSc (Hons) Criminal Psychology degree, you will be given the opportunity to delve into this fascinating world. You will explore crime from both a psychological and sociological point of view to better understand its origins. The course will also focus on the historical and theoretical perspectives of victimology, particularly on its links to both diversity and social inequality.

In this blog we will explore the module content, course length, and future employment opportunities, helping you decide if this is the right programme for you to realise your future career aspirations.


Where can this course lead?

If you’re interested in pursing a career in criminal justice, then this course could offer the perfect route to making this possible. Following graduation, you could move into a career with the National Offender Management Service, the police, probation services or many other law enforcement roles.  Alternatively, this degree could act as a springboard to a range of alternative professions. The knowledge and skills obtained from this programme are highly sought after by employers from a wide range of sectors. You could look to make the move into security, marketing, research, academia and business following the completion of the programme.


What are the benefits of online learning over campus-based?

One aspect of our courses that we take great pride in is the innovative nature in which they are delivered, solely through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This gives you complete flexibility to study at a time and place that is suitable to you. Our students come from a range of different backgrounds, with a variety of personal and professional commitments. By studying online, you have the opportunity to work and earn at the same time, picking up a new qualification without the need for a career break or affecting your personal commitments.

All course content, study materials and assessment submissions are available and completed through our sophisticated VLE. This removes the need to visit an actual library or purchase additional textbooks as these are all available through our extensive eLibrary.

All our interactive lecturecasts are also available through the VLE, which also hosts live Q&A seminar sessions and immersive discussion forums. It’s also a great way to connect with your peers to discuss industry developments and receive feedback from your tutors on current course progress.


How is the course structured?

One of the main benefits of this course is that there is no need to fret about exams – you will be assessed exclusively through assignments and discussion forum interaction. You will also be asked to complete a journal of reflective entries to demonstrate your understanding of the course material.

One of the main goals of this course is to help you understand the main social and psychological factors linked to crime causation and victimisation. To support this development, you will study modules including Crime & Society, Biological Psychology and Criminal Behaviour and Deviance. At the end of the course you will have a deep understanding of topics such as offender profiling, risk management and offender rehabilitation. We also offer students the option to study elective modules as a way of tailoring their course inline with their career ambitions and long-term goals.

Your studies will culminate with the completion of a final report on a criminal psychology topic of your choice. You will gather primary research and evidence and use this to make recommendations based on your analysis of the information gathered.


Can I tailor my studies?

One of the great benefits of this course is the option to tailor the modules you study dependent on your interests and desired career path. The modules you can choose to study at levels 4,5 and 6 have all been included below:

Level 4

  • Dealing with Offending Behaviour
  • Personality and Intelligence

Level 5

  • Criminology
  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Youth Crime and Justice
  • Prisons and Penology
  • Substance Misuse and Crime
  • Probation and Community Justice

Level 6

  • Policing
  • The Economics of Crime
  • Criminal Justice in the Information Age: Cyber Crime and Security


Do I have the option to shorten the length of my course?

The BSc (Hons) Criminal Psychology has an indicative study duration of four years, however the actual duration of study may be longer or shorter depending on your speed of study, study options chose and module availability. It is possible for students to complete the course quicker by doubling up on modules (dependent on module availability), although minimum study durations do apply.

We also offer the programme at CertHE level, which has an indicative study period of 16-months. Earning this qualification will give you a starting platform to enter a career within the criminal justice system. Many of our students also use this qualification as a stepping stone towards working earning the full degree.


What do I learn first?

During one of your first modules you will begin to explore the foundations of social psychology and its use in understanding why people behave and interact in the way they do. You will be introduced to a range of theories in this field with the objective of developing your knowledge of social psychology. The overall aim is to give you the tools to define social psychology and use this knowledge further throughout your course.

You will then move onto explore what influences criminal behaviour particularly within a social and international context. This in-depth module also highlights the growing impact of scientific and technological developments within the criminal justice system. At the module’s completion, you will be able to understand what constitutes and can be identified as a crime and recognise the scale of criminality.


Why choose to study at the University of Essex Online?

Your educational future is in safe hands when you study at the University of Essex Online. We received excellence for teaching, learning and academic support in the 2023 National Student Survey. We are also one of the most international universities in the UK, with students from over 170 countries worldwide. This means you have the opportunity to learn not just from your tutors but also from a diverse range of course mates from across the world.


Ready for a career in criminal psychology? Just click right here to apply or you can download a prospectus to find out more details.