Psychology of Crime and Criminal Justice

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Shiner OLD.2.34


This course is available on the BSc in Social Policy, BSc in Social Policy and Economics, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the contribution that psychology has made to our understanding of crime and criminal justice. It explores what psychological theory and research have to tell us about the causes of crime and the ways in which we respond to such behaviour.

Particular attention is paid to the development of individual criminality and criminal careers; drug and alcohol related crime; varieties of criminal behaviour including violence, sexual crime and stalking; mental disorder and crime; victims and victimisation; public attitudes towards punishment; public confidence in the criminal justice system; prejudice and discrimination; organisational dynamics and institutional change; offender profiling and criminal investigation; eye witness testimony and legal decision making; rehabilitation and imprisonment.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

There will be a reading week in the MT and LT. In addition one revision class will take place in the ST.

Formative coursework

One essay per term (MT and LT) will be required. 

Indicative reading

J.R. Adler and J.M.Gray, Forensic Psychology: Concepts, Debates and Practice, 2010; PB Ainsworth, Psychology and Crime: Myths and Reality, 2000; J.Brown and E.Campbell, The Cambridge Handbook of Forensic Psychology, 2010; C.R. Hollin, Psychology and Crime: An Introduction to Criminological Psychology, 2013; J McGuire, Understanding Psychology and Crime, 2004 F. Pakes and J. Winstone, Psychology and Crime: Understanding and Tackling Offending Behaviour, 2007.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 17.4
2:1 63
2:2 15.2
Third 2.2
Fail 2.2

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: 19

Average class size 2016/17: 10

Capped 2016/17: Yes (30)

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 60%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)