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MSc Forensic & Neuropsychological Perspectives in Face-Processing

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

Bournemouth University has one of the largest face-processing laboratories in the UK, and our academic staff have expertise in neuropsychological disorders of face-processing and forensic applications of face-processing research. This expertise is central to the delivery of the course, where you will learn about the detection, management and potential remediation of face-processing disorders, including those with acquired, progressive, developmental or neuropsychiatric origins.

Through the study of contemporary issues in face-processing research, the fascinating programme of study is especially relevant if you hope to become a researcher in this area and/or are seeking further professional development by gaining a unique and relevant qualification in an increasingly difficult job market.

You will also gain key technological skills that are required for face-processing research. There will be training in the manipulation of facial stimuli, instruction in programming, and consideration of methodological issues and experimental design. Using our state-of-the-art research equipment, including eye-tracking, tDCS, EEG and when possible MRI, you will get plenty of practical, hands-on experience. These skills will be fundamental for the research project, in which you will carry out an experimental investigation addressing a novel research question in the field. 

Guest speakers sharing their knowledge will be an integral feature of the course, as will Terri Cole, the course leader's own experiences as a Behavioural Investigative Adviser and Serious Crime Analyst. Terri worked for a number of years with police forces providing offender profiling, crime scene assessment and offence linkage advice in relation to serious sexual offences and murder. She brings her expertise and experience together to focus on crime scene behaviour and how psychology can assist investigations on this new course.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year

Relevant subjects:

Forensic and biological sciences or psychology

Required subjects:


Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent in psychology. Less standard/traditional qualifications and relevant experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 7.0 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

Core units

  • Experimental Issues in Face-Processing Research: A workshop-based unit where you'll be introduced to techniques in image manipulation - including the generation, editing and morphing of 2D and 3D static and moving facial stimuli - and experimental programming. You'll also participate in critical evaluations of dominant experimental paradigms and methodological techniques used in face-processing research, such as eye-tracking, electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

  • Forensic Perspectives in Face-Processing Research: This unit focuses on individual differences in face-processing, with an emphasis on the forensic implications of this work. As well as examining cognitive and personality factors that may influence our face recognition ability. You'll consider social biases that affect our ability to process faces. This body of research will be discussed in relation to eye-witness testimony and occupations that require proficient face recognition skills, like passport control and other forensic and security settings. You'll be introduced to the concept of ‘extraordinary’ face recognition, and debate will focus on whether these skills can be taught to typical perceivers.

  • Clinical Perspectives in Face-Processing: Discuss face-processing disorders, including developmental, acquired and progressive conditions (a non-exhaustive list includes prosopagnosia, autism spectrum disorder, Turner’s syndrome, Williams’ syndrome and dementia). You'll be trained in the cognitive neuropsychological assessment of these conditions, with a focus on interpreting clinical patterns of impairment in theoretical models of face-processing. Existing treatment options will also be evaluated, and you'll discuss the psychosocial consequences of face-processing conditions.

  • Advanced Research Methods: The unit covers a range of research methods and a tool used for conducting advanced level research, and describes the intricacies of experimental design in such contexts. The unit aims to prepare students for undertaking independent research using advanced research techniques. 

  • Advanced Statistics: You will learn and apply a range of statistical techniques intended for analysing data from psychological research. These are advanced techniques which are not covered at undergraduate level. 

  • Key Transferable Skills - Presentation & Scientific Writing: Key skills for interpreting, presenting and writing research. Topics include writing research and grant proposals, presentation skills and developing advanced writing skills.

  • Research Project: You'll choose from a set of research projects offered by our teaching staff, and then be responsible for providing an in-depth literature review and designing experiments for addressing your research question. You'll also be expected to collect and analyse data and  be asked to provide a submission-ready write up of the project. Supervision for the Project will be provided in weekly meetings.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Forensic & Neuropsychological Perspectives in Face-Processing.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

The optional research placement offers invaluable experience for those wanting to go on to do PhD-level research.

You must complete a minimum of 12 weeks. You will be expected to work for 8 hours per week, keep a placement log and undergo a half-way and end of placement review. You will be supported throughout the duration of you placement through regular meetings with your academic supervisor.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • Possession of a 2:1 degree or equivalent
  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow. Some of these are based on experience. Contact the askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (academic) 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


This course has direct relevance to students seeking research careers or professional positions or training in forensic psychology, clinical neuropsychology or neuropsychology and could serve as the prerequisite MSc needed for further PhD/D.Clin-level study in most of these professions. On a wider basis, the degree's emphasis on core transferable skills will give you extra marketability in a variety of industries in the professional arena, providing you with a route into a successful and rewarding career.

As a Forensic & Neuropsychological Perspectives in Face-Processing graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as:

  • Forensic psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Occupational and health psychologist
  • Lecturer
  • Academic researcher.

Industries worked in

  • Education
  • Police force
  • Security
  • Academic research.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Meet our staff

Dr Sarah Bate completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Exeter in 2004, and stayed at Exeter to study a MSc in Psychological Research Methods (awarded in 2005). She also completed my PhD at Exeter in 2009, examining visual scanning patterns in developmental prosopagnosia. After completion of her PhD, Sarah worked as a postdoctoral research fellow for Professor Janice Kay for one year, before moving to Bournemouth in January 2010.

Read more about the specialist interests of our Psychology staff online, or register now to meet us!

What our students say

Alexandra Brown

We get to write and run our own experiments; the facilities are state of the art.

Hear from our staff

Professor Remco Polman

I’m very proud of the staff we have here. The skills and expertise they pass on to students give them the perfect background to move on into careers or further study.

What our academics say

Dr Sarah Bate

My research directly complements my teaching.

Facilities & opportunities

Psychology brain research

Psychology Research Group

Research is fundamental to what we do and you'll get the opportunity to work alongside academics in your second year, becoming part of the research team as a research apprentice.

Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.