Daniekie
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Hi,
I've had offers for Criminology as well as Criminology and Psychology, but finding it really difficult to pick one. I know I definitely want to do Criminology, just unsure whether I should go for the joint degree. The only reason I would do the joint degree is so I could potentially pursue a career in forensic psychology, as a BPS accredited course is needed for that. However, I'm just not sure I definitely want to go into forensic psychology. I wouldn't want to work in a prison, I'd be more interested in working with the police as a psychologist or as an expert witness. From what I've read online, it sounds like most of the forensic psychology jobs in the UK are focused on prisons... And it takes a really long time to finally become a qualified forensic psychologist.
I think I would enjoy the Criminology course more than the joint degree, by looking at the modules. So I'm unsure if I should do a degree that I will possibly enjoy less just in case I decide I want to go into forensic psychology, especially because it seems so focused on prisons.

Does anyone have any experience in the field of forensic psychology or know anything about it which could help me? Thanks!
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Daniekie)
Hi,
I've had offers for Criminology as well as Criminology and Psychology, but finding it really difficult to pick one. I know I definitely want to do Criminology, just unsure whether I should go for the joint degree. The only reason I would do the joint degree is so I could potentially pursue a career in forensic psychology, as a BPS accredited course is needed for that. However, I'm just not sure I definitely want to go into forensic psychology. I wouldn't want to work in a prison, I'd be more interested in working with the police as a psychologist or as an expert witness. From what I've read online, it sounds like most of the forensic psychology jobs in the UK are focused on prisons... And it takes a really long time to finally become a qualified forensic psychologist.
I think I would enjoy the Criminology course more than the joint degree, by looking at the modules. So I'm unsure if I should do a degree that I will possibly enjoy less just in case I decide I want to go into forensic psychology, especially because it seems so focused on prisons.

Does anyone have any experience in the field of forensic psychology or know anything about it which could help me? Thanks!
You're right in that the biggest employer of Forensic Psychologists in the UK is HMPPS, however, they do work in probation services, in both public and private secure hospitals and in the community as well. In your situation I would do the Criminology degree as it's what you're most passionate about - you can always do a conversion course in Psychology and then progress onto the Forensic Psychology MSc if you change your mind in the future, that's what I did. It does take a relatively long time to become a registered Forensic Psychologist but all areas of Psychology require doctoral level qualifications so it's not uncommon in that respect.
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Daniekie
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
You're right in that the biggest employer of Forensic Psychologists in the UK is HMPPS, however, they do work in probation services, in both public and private secure hospitals and in the community as well. In your situation I would do the Criminology degree as it's what you're most passionate about - you can always do a conversion course in Psychology and then progress onto the Forensic Psychology MSc if you change your mind in the future, that's what I did. It does take a relatively long time to become a registered Forensic Psychologist but all areas of Psychology require doctoral level qualifications so it's not uncommon in that respect.
Thanks for giving me some more information. I did think I could always do a conversion course but then it would take even longer. Do you mind me asking what sort of job you have? I don’t think I’d like the feeling of being in a prison all the time, but having that contact with offenders does speak to me. I noticed a lot of job vacancies online are clinical/forensic psychology jobs.
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Daniekie)
Thanks for giving me some more information. I did think I could always do a conversion course but then it would take even longer. Do you mind me asking what sort of job you have? I don’t think I’d like the feeling of being in a prison all the time, but having that contact with offenders does speak to me. I noticed a lot of job vacancies online are clinical/forensic psychology jobs.
Tbf a conversion course is only a year so definitely worth it if Forensic Psychology is your end goal 100%, any issues with a conversion tend to be due to funding as most of them are MSc courses and you can only use the MSc loan once - you'd have to self-fund the Forensic Psychology MSc afterwards if you wanted to go down that route.

I'm looking for work at the moment but mainly applying for intervention faciliator and assistant psychologist roles, along with anything focused on working with vulnerable people, those with mental health problems, substance misuse, victims of crime etc. I have almost three years experience volunteering in a prison so that's where I hope to start my career and do my Stage 2, although I may end up changing my mind and working in a secure hospital or similar. It all depends on my specific interests really.

If you're interested in working with offenders but not in a prison, have you considered looking into becoming a probation officer? They focus more on offenders after release and giving support when re-entering the community. There are also organisations who also work with offenders on release, such as youth offending teams and various charities.
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Daniekie
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
Tbf a conversion course is only a year so definitely worth it if Forensic Psychology is your end goal 100%, any issues with a conversion tend to be due to funding as most of them are MSc courses and you can only use the MSc loan once - you'd have to self-fund the Forensic Psychology MSc afterwards if you wanted to go down that route.

I'm looking for work at the moment but mainly applying for intervention faciliator and assistant psychologist roles, along with anything focused on working with vulnerable people, those with mental health problems, substance misuse, victims of crime etc. I have almost three years experience volunteering in a prison so that's where I hope to start my career and do my Stage 2, although I may end up changing my mind and working in a secure hospital or similar. It all depends on my specific interests really.

If you're interested in working with offenders but not in a prison, have you considered looking into becoming a probation officer? They focus more on offenders after release and giving support when re-entering the community. There are also organisations who also work with offenders on release, such as youth offending teams and various charities.
The thing is... I do enjoy Psychology as I'm doing it now but I'm just a bit worried about the research aspect which is more on the joint course than on the single course.
I could look into becoming a probation officer but that's focused on rehabilitation, whereas I feel I'd be more interested in assessing people for all sorts of things, not just to see whether someone is ready to be released. I feel like probation officer almost goes towards social work if that makes sense. From your experience, what have you found forensic psychologists mainly do when assessing prisoners? I'm assuming the focus isn't just on their release but also on antisocial behaviour, assess whether they're ready to attend court etc.
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Daniekie)
The thing is... I do enjoy Psychology as I'm doing it now but I'm just a bit worried about the research aspect which is more on the joint course than on the single course.
I could look into becoming a probation officer but that's focused on rehabilitation, whereas I feel I'd be more interested in assessing people for all sorts of things, not just to see whether someone is ready to be released. I feel like probation officer almost goes towards social work if that makes sense. From your experience, what have you found forensic psychologists mainly do when assessing prisoners? I'm assuming the focus isn't just on their release but also on antisocial behaviour, assess whether they're ready to attend court etc.
The research aspect is daunting for a lot of people but remember you do everything stats-wise on a computer program so it's literally just inputting data, running a test and being able to pick out and understand what the numbers mean. I found I got to grips with it by just writing step by step guides for each test, and what the results are telling me about my data set.

Forensic Psychology is also very focused on rehabilitation tbh, I'd say that's the whole foundation of the career really. The bulk of your day would probably be case evaluations/paperwork, with only roughly 10% of your time actually carrying out risk assessments, which entail many assessment tools and interviews in order to determine the risk and protective factors associated with future offending behaviour on release. Then there's research, training other members of staff, consulting with colleagues and testifying in court.
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Daniekie
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
The research aspect is daunting for a lot of people but remember you do everything stats-wise on a computer program so it's literally just inputting data, running a test and being able to pick out and understand what the numbers mean. I found I got to grips with it by just writing step by step guides for each test, and what the results are telling me about my data set.

Forensic Psychology is also very focused on rehabilitation tbh, I'd say that's the whole foundation of the career really. The bulk of your day would probably be case evaluations/paperwork, with only roughly 10% of your time actually carrying out risk assessments, which entail many assessment tools and interviews in order to determine the risk and protective factors associated with future offending behaviour on release. Then there's research, training other members of staff, consulting with colleagues and testifying in court.
Is it stats I'd have to do? From the course module descriptions it seems like it's more based on theories and their methods of research, I could be wrong though.
Would you say the paperwork involved is still kind of interesting? What do you mean by 'assessment tools' exactly? Risk and protective factors happens to be a module on the course as well which I thought sounded interesting! How much of the time is usually spent testifying in court, only occasionally?
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Daniekie)
Is it stats I'd have to do? From the course module descriptions it seems like it's more based on theories and their methods of research, I could be wrong though.
Would you say the paperwork involved is still kind of interesting? What do you mean by 'assessment tools' exactly? Risk and protective factors happens to be a module on the course as well which I thought sounded interesting! How much of the time is usually spent testifying in court, only occasionally?
Yes, most likely. I'm not too sure about Criminology but any accredited Psychology degree will have a research methods and statistics module every year - largely quantitative research methods (although you may touch on qualitative methods too) and research designs. That module would be in the form of lab based computer tutorials and lectures or seminars for the theory. The MSc in Forensic Psychology will 100% cover research methods and stats.

Assessment tools as in screening tools used to determine someone's risk level. For example, I had an assignment where I had to use the V-Risk-10 to assess someone's propensity to violence when released and then submit a risk assessment using the results of the tool. The modules on any MSc Forensic Psychology course will include theories of offending behaviour, risk assessment, interventions, professional practice, research methods and stats, and a law module.

Yes, it's not likely you'll end up testifying in court very regularly imo. You'd have to have many, many years of experience before being considered competent enough to testify.
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Daniekie
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
Yes, most likely. I'm not too sure about Criminology but any accredited Psychology degree will have a research methods and statistics module every year - largely quantitative research methods (although you may touch on qualitative methods too) and research designs. That module would be in the form of lab based computer tutorials and lectures or seminars for the theory. The MSc in Forensic Psychology will 100% cover research methods and stats.

Assessment tools as in screening tools used to determine someone's risk level. For example, I had an assignment where I had to use the V-Risk-10 to assess someone's propensity to violence when released and then submit a risk assessment using the results of the tool. The modules on any MSc Forensic Psychology course will include theories of offending behaviour, risk assessment, interventions, professional practice, research methods and stats, and a law module.

Yes, it's not likely you'll end up testifying in court very regularly imo. You'd have to have many, many years of experience before being considered competent enough to testify.
Not liking the idea of stats and research methods but I know it's just part of it. When I look at the course modules online it does seem really interesting, I just don't know if the jobs at the end of it would be that good. What is it you find so interesting about it?
I do feel like doing the joint degree would give me more options for any further study, without having to do two master degrees...
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Daniekie)
Not liking the idea of stats and research methods but I know it's just part of it. When I look at the course modules online it does seem really interesting, I just don't know if the jobs at the end of it would be that good. What is it you find so interesting about it?
I do feel like doing the joint degree would give me more options for any further study, without having to do two master degrees...
Hmmm I guess I've always been someone who wants to help others, especially those who seem to be the 'underdog' in a way. I'm naturally very empathetic and open minded and people do feel very comfortable discussing their feelings and thoughts with me - I reckon I'd go into either teaching or counselling if I wasn't so interested in FP.

My original degree was in Forensic Chemistry, and whilst I loved the forensic aspect I realised in my final year that I wanted to work with people rather than in a lab, and I've had an interest in true crime for years so it all just kind of made sense. I then did a conversion course in Psychology and started volunteering in a prison and loved it, which confirmed I'd made the right choice with what I wanted to have a career in.

As I said before, if you're not sure, then stick with your gut instinct. You've got plenty of time to change your mind and the good thing about going into psychology is that it's easy to switch over into via the conversion course if you wanted to in the future. A combined course is also handy if you're not sure where your passion lies, it gives you a taste of both subjects and an idea of what the work would entail for each one.
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Daniekie
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
Hmmm I guess I've always been someone who wants to help others, especially those who seem to be the 'underdog' in a way. I'm naturally very empathetic and open minded and people do feel very comfortable discussing their feelings and thoughts with me - I reckon I'd go into either teaching or counselling if I wasn't so interested in FP.

My original degree was in Forensic Chemistry, and whilst I loved the forensic aspect I realised in my final year that I wanted to work with people rather than in a lab, and I've had an interest in true crime for years so it all just kind of made sense. I then did a conversion course in Psychology and started volunteering in a prison and loved it, which confirmed I'd made the right choice with what I wanted to have a career in.

As I said before, if you're not sure, then stick with your gut instinct. You've got plenty of time to change your mind and the good thing about going into psychology is that it's easy to switch over into via the conversion course if you wanted to in the future. A combined course is also handy if you're not sure where your passion lies, it gives you a taste of both subjects and an idea of what the work would entail for each one.
Very interesting! I’ve got a couple months to decide but for now I’m swaying towards the joint degree as it gives me more options. The bulk of the modules I could just pick criminology subjects anyway.
Thanks so much for answering my questions!!
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