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Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Psychology - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

Although criminology and psychology as individual disciplines can help to make sense of many popular fears and fascinations about crime, criminals and criminalisation, when studied together they can reveal much more through the ways they speak to and challenge each other. At The Open University we take a critical approach to each of these disciplines, which will enable students to question much of what they ‘know’ about crime, and confront many taken-for-granted assumptions about pressing contemporary issues.

The Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Psychology, and the modules that it comprises, involves a broad-based approach across both subjects. This includes considering the nature of criminal acts and human motivations that lead to them, but it also goes some way beyond this focus. Criminology is also concerned with social conditions and structures of social organisation and of power, for example, and as a result takes an holistic view of crime and of what counts as crime, and why. Psychology too is fundamentally concerned with a very wide range of influences on human interactions and with the causes of conflicts that arise between nations, races and social groupings as well as between individuals. 

This diploma maintains a focus on these broad approaches, allowing for a diverse range of fascinating topics to be covered, including antisocial behaviour, surveillance, security, corporate crimes, inequality, social justice and social welfare, justice and miscarriages of justice, human attachment and friendship, television violence, traumatic experiences, interpersonal and social harms, counselling and forensic science. The qualification offers a rich, innovative and highly stimulating subject matter. It also provides opportunities for the development of a wide range of skills that are of practical relevance. 

The diploma therefore aims to provide students with:

  • an understanding of the key concepts, theories, methods and debates in criminology and psychology 
  • an appreciation of different perspectives within criminology and psychology, and the ability to evaluate them critically 
  • an understanding of the uses of criminological theory and analysis for evaluating criminal justice policies 
  • an understanding of the application of psychology to a range of contexts 
  • support and guidance to improve learning and performance and to develop skills of learning independently 
  • the ability to acquire the employability skills and knowledge appropriate to diploma status for use in further learning and the world of work.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On gaining this qualification you will:

  • be aware of general concepts and theoretical approaches in relation to crime, harm, victimisation and criminal justice
  • understand broadly the core approaches to psychology and how psychological theories and research are applied in practical or professional contexts
  • understand some ethical issues and research methods in criminology and psychology
  • have begun to develop a critical awareness of the ways in which social interests, positions and values may impact on policies and practices in criminal justice and psychology.

Cognitive skills

By the end of this qualification you will be able to:

  • evaluate and discuss evidence of, and arguments about, issues in crime and human behaviour from a range of relevant sources
  • demonstrate knowledge of and familiarity with key criminological and psychological theories, concepts and principles
  • understand how some concepts and principles in criminology and psychology can be applied within real world settings.

Practical and/or professional skills

On gaining this qualification you will be able to:

  • pay attention to and endeavour to understand the viewpoints of others
  • take personal responsibility for your learning
  • use feedback to reflect constructively on your learning progress.

Key skills

On gaining this qualification you will be able to:

  • accurately and effectively communicate ideas about crime and human behaviour
  • confidently use a range of digital practices relevant to crime and human behaviour
  • plan and deliver written work on issues in crime and human behaviour.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will learn independently, using the following types of study material, provided by us:

  • printed teaching materials
  • online materials (including textual, multimedia assets, and interactive resources).

We will support your learning with:

  • self-assessment questions and exercises, included in the teaching texts and virtual learning environments
  • feedback and guidance from a tutor
  • online tutorials
  • email and online discussion forums
  • online study guides
  • tailored support for each form of assessment, via a combination of the above methods.

We will assess your learning with:

  • tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
  • interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
  • end-of-module assessments (EMAs)
  • a formal examination in one module.