NS5118: Understanding the Criminal Mind

NS5118: Understanding the Criminal Mind

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

Module Title Understanding the Criminal Mind
Module Code NS5118
Module Tutor Alexandra Sandham
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 5
Brief Description

This module focuses on how psychological theory and research can be used to explain the causes of criminal behaviour and unpack how thinking and behaviour may differ within offender populations. It will introduce pivotal theories, such as personality theories and how these apply to explaining criminal behaviour. Students will also gain a critical awareness of how psychological constructs, such as intelligence and psychopathy, have been explored within research. The module will demonstrate how these concepts map onto interventions intended to reduce risk of offending/reoffending.


Indicative Syllabus

Key concepts from psychology and how these link to offender groups, offending behaviour and/or rehabilitation of offenders. Example topics include:


Personality theories and crime (e.g. Eysenck)


Intelligence and how treatment programmes can be adapted to ensure responsivity


‘Motivation’ and how we locate this within treatment approaches (e.g. Good Lives Model)


Aggression and violence (e.g. social learning theory)


Personality disorder, psychopathy and crime


Assessment and prediction of risk


Design and evaluation of psychometric tools to measure offenders’ criminogenic needs


Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of major theoretical and applied perspectives on individual differences within offender populations.
  2. Compare and evaluate theories of and research on key concepts.
  3. Evaluate the measurement tools utilised within the criminal justice system.
  4. Evaluate problems in categorising offenders (e.g. psychopathology).
Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 24
Independent Learning Hours: 126
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 100% Assignment: Individual: 2000 words
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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