Not available in 2020/21
Psychology of Crime and Criminal Justice

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Shiner OLD.2.34


This course is available on the BSc in Criminology, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, 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. This course is available with permission 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. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

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 summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 26

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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