module specification

PC6051 - Forensic Psychology (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Forensic Psychology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 153
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
114 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Forensic Report
Open Book Examination 50%   Unseen Open Book Examination
Running in 2019/20
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. Specifically, this module aims to provide students with a solid basis of knowledge and understanding of the application of empirical research and theory in psychology to the study of contemporary issues and processes within the criminal justice system.

Through engagement with the teaching, learning, and assessment opportunities provided, students will develop skills in the integration, evaluation and critical application of psychological literature, the construction of argument, self-assessment and reflection.

A final aim of the module is to provide students with an insight into and understanding of the potential for the practical application of psychology within forensic settings. This will be of benefit to students in making choices about the possibility of pursuing further study or a career in forensic psychology.

Prior learning requirements

PC5005 Individual Differences and Social Psychology


The syllabus for this module includes coverage of the following areas:
 Issues and processes in the investigation of crime, for example: eyewitness reliability; false confessions
 Types of offenders and offences, for example: mentally disordered offenders; violent offenders
 The prosecution and outcomes of crime, for example: courtroom psychology; vulnerable victim treatment and impact; treatment & rehabilitation of offenders LO1,LO2

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module will comprise interactive teaching sessions to deliver core material to students (e.g., key concepts, empirical literature and theoretical explanation). Sessions may combine lecture, exercises, discussion, and classroom assessment techniques (CATs). As well as delivering core content, these sessions provide a framework for independent study and reflection on learning. To make the most of the teaching and learning opportunities provided, students are responsible for engaging in key reading associated with each session, and for actively contributing to in-class activities and discussions. 

Within the teaching sessions, consideration will be given to:
 discussion of overarching themes or issues arising from the topics presented;
 review of any areas identified for clarification as a result of CATs within the teaching sessions;
 the professional role that a psychologist might have in the forensic contexts discussed. As part of their PDP, students will be encouraged to consider the extent to which their skills and values would be aligned with the roles, ethical and practical responsibilities, and working environments of these psychologists;
Teaching and learning sessions will therefore facilitate consideration of employability issues and personal development planning.

Finally, support for learning from and completion of the assessments will be available online and face-to-face. This support will include instructions for completing each form of assignment; guidance and tips for doing well on each form of assignment (including consideration of the assessment criteria); suggested sources for supporting knowledge acquisition and skill development; and tools for encouraging students to reflect upon their performance and upon employability attributes developed within this module.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. Select from, synthesise, and critically evaluate psychological literature in order to draw conclusions about, and make persuasive and evidence-based recommendations in relation to, case information for a professional non-psychology audience.
2. Construct, independently, under time pressure, and from permissible resources, an argument in which empirical findings and psychological theory are described, synthesised, structured and evaluated in order to address contemporary issues in forensic psychology.

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module comprises coursework in the form of a 1,500 – 2,000 word forensic report (worth 50%), and an unseen open-book examination (worth 50% of the mark for the module). In the forensic report students will be asked to apply their knowledge of a module topic to a specific professional context.  In the unseen open-book exam, students will be invited to demonstrate their skills in synthesising, summarising and analysing information in order to respond to essay-style questions.


Davies, G., & Beech, A. (Eds.) (2017). Forensic psychology: crime, justice, law, interventions (3rd edition). Chichester: BPS Blackwell.


Bonta. J.L., & Andrews, D.A. (2017). The psychology of criminal conduct (6th ed.). London: Routledge.
Crighton, D. A. & Towl, G. J. (Eds.) (2015). Forensic psychology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Howitt, D. (2012). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology (4th ed.). London: Pearson Education.
Howitt, D. (2018). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology (6th ed.). London: Pearson Education.
Huss, M. T. (2014).  Forensic psychology: Research, clinical practice and applications. Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Kapardis, A. (2010). Psychology and law: a critical introduction (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kapardis, A. (2014). Psychology and law: a critical introduction (4th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Weiner, I.B. and Hess, A.K. (Eds), (2006). The handbook of forensic psychology (3rd ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Limited.

Law and Human Behavior
Legal and Criminological Psychology
Psychology, Crime, and Law