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CRI3321 Criminal Minds: Forensic and Criminal Psychology

Semester 2, 2022 Online
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 1
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 2 July 2022


Examiner: Lauren Humby


Psychological approaches feature prominently in the context of criminal justice response to offenders and victims, therapeutic treatment of offenders, and the criminal justice system’s processing of criminal matters. While it can be argued that criminogenic situations and society’s institutes in place to deal with crime and offenders are socially constructed, each require human agency to occur or function. Research and practice in the field of psychology considers the human agency aspects of behaviour and seeks to understand what drives people, as individuals embedded within particular social systems, to behave, react, or function in the ways they do. This course covers topics suitable for students anticipating a career within the criminal justice, or external agencies connected with the criminal justice system. The concepts and skills taught in this course are transferrable to working with people in other social institutions outside the criminal justice system and associated agencies such as education, law, social work, psychology, and helping professions.

Psychological theories and underpinning philosophies play a large role in understanding criminal behaviour, the effects of criminal behaviour and developing responses to criminal behaviour. This course will examine some of the major theoretical propositions put forward by psychologists to explain why people commit crime, the psychological impacts of crime on victims and the psychological elements of the role of judges and juries in responding to crime. A number of psychological practices used in the broad scope of criminal justice processes will be examined including interview techniques, eyewitness testimonies, offender and geographical profiling and credibility testing. Some of the psychological challenges encountered as part of the criminal justice processes will also be explored as they relate to false allegations, reliability of confessions, child witnesses and psychological disorders. Assessing offenders' risk by the use of psychometric tests, and the range of psychological treatments for offenders will also be examined.

Course learning outcomes

On Successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. apply psychological theory to explain criminal offending and the impact of criminal offending on others;
  2. appraise the effectiveness of psychological techniques used in forensic investigations and responses to crime;
  3. evaluate the use of forensic psychology strategies in mitigating apparent challenges associated with investigating and responding to crime, criminals, victims, witnesses and criminal justice actors;
  4. examine the role of psychology in criminal justice processes and use written and oral communication skills to provide an appraisal of psychological practices;
  5. formulate a critical argument outlining the strengths and weaknesses of psychological approaches to understanding and responding to crime, the effects of crime and the treatment of crime.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Understanding crime from a forensic psychology theoretical lens 10.00
2. Forensic psychology and types of crime 15.00
3. The psychology of criminal justice players and processes 15.00
4. Forensic practices in criminal justice processes 20.00
5. Using psychological strategies to manage the challenges during criminal investigations and criminal justice proceedings 20.00
6. Psychological aspects of involving vulnerable persons in forensic cases 10.00
7. Risk assessments and offending behaviour treatment strategies 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Howitt, D 2018, Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology, 6th edn, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, England.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Oral Presentation (ind, grp, mltmd) 1 No 20 2,4,5
Assignments Oral Presentation (ind, grp, mltmd) 2 No 10 4,5
Assignments Written Essay No 40 1,2,3,4,5
Assignments Written Quiz No 30 1,2,3,4
Date printed 2 July 2022