module specification

PY7188 - Forensic Psychology (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Forensic Psychology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 10
School Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing
Total study hours 100
76 hours Guided independent study
24 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Written coursework (2500 words)
Running in 2019/20

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module addresses the two major strands of the application of psychology to forensic issues. The first of these concerns understanding why individuals commit offences of different types and considering how best to assess risk of offending as well as how to best manage convicted offenders and prevent future crimes. The second major strand of forensic psychology involves studying contemporary issues and processes in the investigation and prosecution of crime. This includes considering how we can get the best possible information from witnesses, victims and suspects, how we might support police officers in their role, and how we might optimise courtroom decision-making.

Prior learning requirements

PY7184 Individual Differences and Social Psychology (prerequisite)
PY7185 Research Methods and Biological Psychology (prerequisite)
PY7186 Cognitive and Developmental Psychology (corequisite)

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge and critical 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 and will be of particular benefit to those considering a career in forensic psychology or related area.

Through engagement with the teaching, learning, and assessment opportunities provided, this module also aims to develop in students skills in the identification, integration, critical evaluation and application of psychological literature, the construction of argument; verbal communiation and presentation skills;  self- and peer-assessment; and reflection.


Topics will be drawn from the following areas:
 Understanding offending, offenders and offences (for example: measuring and defining crime; young people and crime; mental disorder and crime; personality disorder and crime; violent offending; sexual offending; fire setting; gangs and crime); issues and processes in the investigation of crime (for example: eyewitness reliability; false confessions; witness and suspect interviewing techniques; detection of deception; offender profiling; stress and policing; supporting vulnerable witnesses).
 The prosecution and outcomes of crime, for example: juror, jury, and judicial decision-making; advocacy and the psychology of persuasion; assessment of offenders; psychological interventions with offenders; prisons and other secure settings.
 The role of forensic psychologists in the criminal justice system.

Learning and teaching

This module will comprise formal teaching sessions to deliver core material to students (e.g., key concepts, empirical literature and theoretical explanation). These sessions will typically combine traditional lecture and interactive workshop activities, such as exercises, discussion, student presentation, and, where appropriate, consideration of the professional role that a psychologist might have. As well as delivering core content, these sessions provide a framework for independent study and reflection on learning.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 psychologists employed in a variety of roles and contexts within forensic psychology.
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 both in-class and online activities and discussions. 

Finally, support for learning will be available online. This might include, for example as audio files, video, written documentation, web links, and online discussion. These resources will include guidance and tips for doing well in the module assessment (including consideration of the assessment criteria); suggested sources for supporting knowledge acquisition and evaluation; and tools for encouraging students to reflect upon the skills, attributes and values needed to practice forensic psychology.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will:
1. Be able to construct, independently, an argument in which appropriate empirical findings and psychological theory are described, synthesised, structured and evaluated in order to address contemporary issues in forensic psychology.
2. Have a critical understanding of the role played by psychologists in a variety of criminal justice contexts, and reflect upon the skills and abilities needed in order to practice psychology in a range of forensic settings.

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module comprises a critical evaluation of the literature in relation to a key issue in forensic psychology. Students will research an allocated issue and will have the opportunity to present their topic to the class and to receive peer and tutor feedback on this. Students will then write up their critical evaluations on an individual basis. This piece of coursework is designed to address learning outcome 1.

In class and online resources exploring the role and practice of psychologists in forensic contexts are designed to enable students to achieve learning outcome 2.


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.
Brown, J. M. & Campbell, E. A. (Eds.) (2010). The Cambridge handbook of forensic psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Howitt, D. (2008). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology (3rd edition). London: Pearson Education.
Kapardis, A. (2009). Psychology and law: a critical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kebbell, M. R., & Davies, G. M. (Eds.) (2006). Practical psychology for forensic investigations and prosecutions. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Limited.
Law and Human Behavior
Legal and Criminological Psychology
Towl, G. J. & Crighton, D. A. (Eds.) (2010). Forensic psychology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Weiner, I.B. and Hess, A.K. (Eds), (2006). The handbook of forensic psychology (3rd ed), Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Limited.