Course Description

Course Name

The Psychology of Murder

Session: VLNU3522

Hours & Credits

10 UK Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.



This module has been designed with ‘murder in mind’! Murder and why individuals commit such heinous crimes is a fascinating topic of study. Throughout history scholars have tried to understand the motivation behind taking another person’s life. The principle aim of this module is to introduce you to the psychology of murder. Initial sessions will provide a background through exploring the importance of psychology in the field of criminology and what exactly do we mean by murder. Our intellectual journey will then progress to delve into the most fascinating area of murder: the world of the serial killer. Exploring actual crimes we will gradually build up a picture of the psychological motivations behind such serious crimes – are murderers mad, sad or bad? To further understand the motivation behind murder we will explore why certain victims are selected (female, homeless, children) and debate how such crimes should be punished in our society. The module will comprise lectures, workshops and debates as well as a walking tour of some of the famous London murder sites.


At the end of the module students will have an understanding of:

1. The relationship between psychology and criminology
2. Legal definition of murder and the issue of responsibility
3. The different psychological approaches to understanding murder and have a critical perspective
4. The forensic impact of murder including profiling
5. The psychology of victimology
6. The psychology of punishment


The assessment for this module will comprise two components:

  • A 2000 word case study of an actual murder case (80%)
  • A Class presentation of the case study (20%)


Roland, P. (2007). In the Minds of Murderers. Arcturus: London

Wilson, C. & Seaman, D. (2007). The Serial Killers: A Study in the Psychology of Violence. Virgin Books: London

*Course content subject to change