module specification

PC6051 - Forensic Psychology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Forensic Psychology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
114 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Case report (1,500 - 2,000 words)
Open Book Examination 50%   2 hour examination, unseen open book.
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is designed to provide students with a solid basis of knowledge and understanding of the application of psychology to explanations of criminal behaviour, and to the study of contemporary issues and processes in the criminal justice system.

Prior learning requirements

PC5005 Individual Differences and Social Psychology
PC5006 Development Psychology and Cognition

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with a solid basis of knowledge and understanding of the extent to which empirical research and theory in psychology can be applied 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 also develop skills in the integration, evaluation and 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.


 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; treatment & rehabilitation of offenders

Learning and teaching

This module will comprise interactive teaching sessions to deliver core material to students (e.g., key concepts, empirical literature and theoretical explanation). Each 3-hour teaching sessions will typically 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. Effectively summarise, integrate, evaluate and apply psychological literature in the construction of a persuasive and evidence-based argument.
  2. Select from, synthesise, and critically evaluate psychological literature in order to draw conclusions about, and make recommendations in relation to, case information for professional non-psychology audience.
  3. 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 a 1,500 – 2,000 word case report (worth 50%), and an unseen open-book examination (worth 50% of the mark for the module).

The case report is designed to assess learning outcome 2. The unseen open-book examination is designed to address learning outcomes 1 and 3.


Adler, J. R. & Gray. J. M. (Eds.) (2010). Forensic psychology: concepts, debates and practice. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.
Andrews, D.A., & Bonta. J.L. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct (5th ed.). Albany, NY: Lexis Nexis / Anderson.
Davies, G., & Beech, A. (Eds.) (2012). Forensic psychology: crime, justice, law, interventions (2nd edition). Chichester: BPS Blackwell. [CORE]
Davies, G., Hollin, C., & Bull, R. (Eds.) (2008). Forensic psychology. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Howitt, D. (2009). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.
Kapardis, A. (2010). Psychology and law: a critical introduction (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kebbell, M. R., & Davies, G. M. (Eds.) (2006). Practical psychology for forensic investigations and prosecutions. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Limited.
Towl, G. (Ed.) (2003). Psychology in prisons. Oxford: BPS Blackwell.
Towl, G. J. & Crighton, D. A. (2010). Forensic psychology. Chichester: BPS Blackwell
Weiner, I.B. and Hess, A.K. (Eds), (2006). The handbook of forensic psychology (3rd ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Limited.

Journals (online resources, access through University Library catalogue):
Law and Human Behavior
Legal and Criminological Psychology
Psychology, Crime, and Law