Course Description

Course Name

Psychology in a Legal Context

Session: VDNS3122

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 and PSYC 212

Taught In English

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


Psychological aspects of crime and the investigative/legal process.

Almost every area of psychology has some relevance to the law. For example, research in psychology has been instrumental in helping us to understand how jurors make their decisions, why eyewitnesses are often mistaken, how people come to confess to crimes they did not commit and why a fingerprint expert might testify that two prints match when they don't. In this paper, we will use psychological science to examine how crimes are perpetuated, witnessed, investigated, tried and punished.

Course Structure
The major topics covered are:
-Witnessing a crime
-Memory decay and distortion
-Interviewing eyewitnesses
-Visual identification of a perpetrator
-Recovered and false memories
-Offenders and offending
-Criminal profiling
-Interrogations and confessions
-Detecting deception
-Trial tactics
-Juror decision-making
-Dealing with the guilty offender
-Wrongful conviction

Learning Outcomes
Emphasis will be placed on experimental design issues in forensic psychology, the analysis and interpretation of relevant empirical evidence and the application of psychological knowledge to investigative/legal reform.

A selection of journal articles and other material will be available on Blackboard and through the Central Library

*Course content subject to change