What you will study
You'll explore forensic psychological topics by examining a variety of real criminal cases. This includes studying cases like that of the Yorkshire Ripper (to learn about investigative decision making), Raoul Moat (to learn about crisis negotiation), and the September 11th bombings (to learn about terrorism). Through such cases you'll see how psychology can contribute to a better understanding of crime, offenders and criminal investigations.
The research you engage with will be drawn from a variety of cutting edge areas, including cyber-crime and terrorism, as well as some of the classic research topics that present challenges for forensic psychology. Some of the topics covered include:
- witness memory: how easy is it to recognise the face of someone we may have only seen briefly or during a stressful situation?; is it possible to remember things (vividly) that have never happened? (false memories); can the way witnesses are interviewed change what they remember?
- lie detection: can we detect if people are lying to us?
- decision making: what can psychology tell us about the way police make their investigative decisions? And what can it tell us about how jurors or judges make decisions in court?
- profiling: can psychology help police by systematically understanding a potential offender’s motives, personality or a crime scene?
- sexual offences: what motivates offenders, how can they be detected and what are the implications for victims?
- mental illness and crime: how far is mental illness related to criminal behaviour?
- cybercrime: how does psychology contribute to better understanding and preventing cybercrime, including cyber-bullying and cyberstalking.
The module helps you to understand how psychological research is conducted, and how to read, evaluate and apply psychological research. You'll learn how to search for, utilise and communicate existing research within this area. Crucially you will learn how to select and evaluate research that answers specific real world questions/issues, and how to explain what such research tells us about such questions/issues to different professional and lay audiences. In this context you will have the opportunity to apply what you have learned to real world issues and fictitious crime cases (e.g. communicating research findings relating to a case or issue to a judge, documentary makers, policy makers, or members of the public).
Finally you will specialise in an area of your choice and pursue your own independent dissertation project (based on literature research) on your chosen issue/topic. Your work on this dissertation project will be supported and supervised by your tutor. In addition, the learning materials are designed to prepare you for your dissertation project by teaching you the skills needed to carry out this project. The project will take the form of an extensive literature review and discussion. As part of this project you will be asked to link your findings to a real world/practice problem/issue and inform a lay or professional audience about your findings. You will not carry out your own primary data collection or research.
You will learn
By studying this module you will learn how to:
- read, critically evaluate and apply research in forensic psychology
- conduct a systematic literature search
- write a literature review
- select journal articles/research relevant to applied questions
- write reports for different audiences (e.g. legal professionals, charities, documentary makers)
- effectively present information to different audiences (e.g. other academics, practitioners, or policy makers)
You'll also learn about:
- the relevance of academic research in forensic psychology for real world issues/cases
- key concepts, debates and research in forensic psychology.