SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHC825423
Module Leader Mairi Fleming
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Successful completion of Applied Psychology 2 or equivalent

Summary of Content

The aim of this module is to consider some of the major themes in the application of psychology in criminological and legal settings. It is concerned with a variety of topics, including the development of criminal behaviour in general, and the development of specific types of criminality, as well as the application of psychological principles in a variety of forensic settings. Particular focus is given to how psychology contributes to the assessment and treatment of offending behaviours in police, prison and court work.


The syllabus considers possible causes of crime, aggression and violence from a psychological viewpoint and examines the range of issues presented by different offenders and offence types. It explores current understandings of crime and criminality by considering major theoretical perspectives and research in the area . Individual characteristics and lifestyle choices that may contribute to criminality are a focus, whilst possible socio-environmental influences are also examined in terms of their potential influence on offending behaviours. An overview of key aspects of forensic practice is also provided in terms of risk assessment and management and the treatment of offenders and the role of forensic psychology in legal settings.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module,the student should be able to:1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of key areas of forensic psychology (assessed by essay and presentation)2. demonstrate an understanding of the importance of psychological theory in explaining criminal behaviour and indeveloping intervention strategies to prevent and reduce offending (assessed by essay and presentation)3. critically evaluate theoretical arguments and research evidence (assessed by essay)4. demonstrate an understanding of how forensic psychology is applied to tackle crime and violence in the real world (assessed by essay and presentation)

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be delivered through weekly lectures (2 hours/week) and two hour long seminars running fortnightly in weeks 2-11. Lectures and seminars are delivered by members of the forensic team here at GCU with guest lecturers from services such as the State Hospital (Carstairs) and the Scottish Prison Service, and from visiting academics specialising in research in forensic settings. This mix of speakers ensures that information is relevant and up-to-date in terms of forensic practice. Seminars involve a combination of tutor presentation, student discussion and debate and practical exercises, providing the opportunity to apply knowledge to real life scenarios. Where possible, material used in seminars is drawn from case studies and real world sources to lend authenticity to the practical work. Online support is available through GCULearn (e.g. lecture presentations, additional materials, discussion groups). Summative assessment will involve the production of written coursework, as well as an oral presentation.

Indicative Reading

Indicative Reading Bull, R. (2014). Investigative Interviewing. New York: Springer. Davies, G. & Beech, A. (2017). Forensic psychology: Crime, justice, law, interventions (BPS Textbooks in Psychology), W. Sussex: Wiley. Gavin, H. (2014). Criminological and forensic psychology. London, Sage Publications. Howitt, D. (2015). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd. Craig, L. A., Dixon, L., & Gannon, T. A. (2013). What works in offender rehabilitation: An evidenced based approach to assessment and treatment . Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.

Transferrable Skills

Students will acquire skills in: -360 1) critical and independent thinking and analysis, 2) evaluating research and literature, 3) understanding the applied value of research, 4) group work competencies, and presentation skills.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 130.00
Assessment (FT) 40.00
Seminars (FT) 10.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 40.00 35% Group Oral Presentation - 20 Minutes
Course Work 01 n/a 60.00 35% 3000 Word Essay