NS7201: Psychology, Investigation and the Legal Process


Please note this module descriptor is indicative of the structure of this course and may be subject to change.

NS7201: Psychology, Investigation and the Legal Process

Module Title Psychology, Investigation and the Legal Process
Module Code NS7201
Module Tutor Alexandra Sandham
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 30
Level of Study 7
Brief Description

This module provides a comprehensive exploration of psychology as applied to the investigation stage of a crime and throughout the legal process. It exposes students to the major theoretical formulations and models applicable to the investigative processes, such as investigative interviewing, eyewitness testimony, and the assessment of the truth. It discusses difficulties and controversies within this applied area, e.g. evidence regarding investigators ability to detect deception (and tools that claim to ‘measure’ deception) and issues regarding false confessions. The contribution of psychology to the legal processes of prosecution, defence and appeal are examined, in particular decision making and assessing competence. Students will attend court, and the module encompasses focused workshops such as the role of an expert in court.

Indicative Syllabus
  • The investigative process - the role of psychology.
  • Profiling and case linkage.
  • Best practice in investigative interviewing: detecting truth and lies; interrogations and confessions; assessing competence.
  • Victim/witness involvement in the justice  process
  • Eye witness testimony
  • The framework of legal process - civil and criminal courts, language of the courts, and the criminal justice process.
  • Vulnerable witnesses and special measures
  • The role of the expert witness
  • Juries, reasoning and models of jury decision-making.
Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to:

1.      Demonstrate an advanced and systematic understanding of psychological theory and research applicable to the investigative and legal process;

2.      Understand the importance of evidence-based practice in the investigative/legal process;

3.      Critically analyse the contributions made by psychological techniques to the processes of detection and investigation;

4.      Appraise the relative effectiveness and validity of various psychological techniques;

5.      Critically evaluate the application of psychological models and theories to legal proceedings;

6.      Critically judge the role of the forensic psychologist when providing advice, guidance and evidence in the investigative/legal process and reflect on the practice of others.

Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 48
Independent Learning Hours: 252
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 50% Coursework: Individual, other: 2000 words (report)
002: 50% Coursework: Individual, presentation: 2000 words or equivalent (Powerpoint with voice-over)
Special Assessment Requirements None
Indicative Resources The current reading list can be found in the Module Guide, which your lecturer should make available via Moodle.

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