Forensic Psychology and Mental Health: ‘An MSc like no other’

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After finishing his Psychology degree at the University of Liverpool in July 2018, Myles Chadwick was unsure of what to do next: he wanted to stay in education but knew that embarking on a master’s would be a massive commitment.

Nevertheless, after looking at a variety of options, being a Russell Group university situated in the heart of a modern, friendly city and offering a truly unique programme in MSc Forensic Psychology and Mental Health, meant that Manchester that stood out most…

First and foremost, the combination of psychology and mental health in this course was immeasurably important for me. I knew that with this blend, the MSc would not only equip me with the ability to progress on to stage two of Forensic Psychology, but it would also allow me to apply for mental health-related roles and make for an exemplary candidate should I apply for the ClinPsyD (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology).

Moreover, being a Russell Group institution, the University of Manchester is one of the leading, research-intensive universities in the UK and so I knew that it would be likely that I could then go on to a PhD. Overall, the potential academic and career paths that Forensic Psychology and Mental Health has opened up for me are endless, which is one of the main reasons I enjoy and admire the course so much.

shutterstock_409783645With only 21 students on the course, lectures are personalised and enjoyable. In contrast to an undergraduate degree, where you can be left feeling like a small fish in a rather large pond, this course is the total opposite.

The course itself is geared specifically towards those wanting to go on to complete their stage two in Forensic Psychology. That said, the course doesn’t undermine other academic/career routes and is reflected in the teaching and assignments. Furthermore, the staff, both on the course and at the University in general, look beyond just pure study and have a real propensity to drive you toward your future career.

The course is complemented greatly by the University’s facilities and resources. manchester has the biggest single-site library in the UK and the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons run 24/7. They seem to have just about anything you could ever need – I especially appreciated the academic phrasebook, which I cannot praise enough.

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The course is typically run over for two full days a week, which means that if you are travelling from afar (like me) you save time and money by not having to make numerous journeys a week. The lectures encourage you to think and work in a group, so whilst you might think a whole day is long, it actually goes pretty quick when everyone’s participating.

Because the cohort is so small, you can build a pretty close bond within the first couple of weeks – we certainly have! This makes for a great atmosphere in lectures and means you’re not hesitant to share your ideas. It’s equally important to have a good social life too, especially as the workload can be thick and fast at times; thankfully, the relationships you build with your coursemates will get you through.

I think it’s important to emphasise that the MSc is different from a bachelor’s. Two of the most prominent distinctions are increased independence and reflection; that said, there is still a wealth of wonderful support available to you. These networks are made up of dedicated support staff as well you as your tutors who not only know you but also have a vested interest in your study and wellbeing.

The biggest piece of work you will do is obviously your dissertation. Although at first, it can feel slightly daunting, my first meeting with my supervisor was encouraging: it didn’t feel like my work wasn’t just ‘another student project’ but instead had the potential to be something much bigger and used to inform practice and legislation.

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The programme as a whole has felt like that: your interests always seem to be acknowledged and because of this, as well as the class size, certain parts of teaching in lecturers will refer to your interests, and your dissertation topic. I really do feel the staff take a genuine interest in you.

Lastly, I have taken on the position of student representative and I have to say, that if you are fortunate enough to experience this course, get involved too: it has been a great opportunity for me and my peers to relay important student queries back to the teaching staff and department lead. What is great here is that once again, with the small group, everyone’s queries can be acknowledged and you can easily meet with teaching staff.

If you are reading this and thinking about applying for the MSc, my first suggestion would be to go ahead and do it! The course is truly like no other and not only is it unique, but it has truly catalysed my enthusiasm for the forensic field and psychology in general. It is a pleasure to study in a wonderful city and at such a great university.


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