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CRI3321 Criminal Minds: Forensic and Criminal Psychology

Semester 2, 2021 Springfield On-campus
Short Description: Criminal Minds Forensic Psych
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 1
ASCED code : 099903 - Criminology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Angelique Richards


Psychological approaches feature prominently in the context of criminal justice response to offenders and victims, therapeutic treatment of offenders, and the criminal justice system’s processing of criminal matters. While it can be argued that criminogenic situations and society’s institutes in place to deal with crime and offenders are socially constructed, each require human agency to occur or function. Research and practice in the field of psychology considers the human agency aspects of behaviour and seeks to understand what drives people, as individuals embedded within particular social systems, to behave, react, or function in the ways they do. This course covers topics suitable for students anticipating a career within the criminal justice, or external agencies connected with the criminal justice system. The concepts and skills taught in this course are transferrable to working with people in other social institutions outside the criminal justice system and associated agencies such as education, law, social work, psychology, and helping professions.


Psychological theories and underpinning philosophies play a large role in understanding criminal behaviour, the effects of criminal behaviour and developing responses to criminal behaviour. This course will examine some of the major theoretical propositions put forward by psychologists to explain why people commit crime, the psychological impacts of crime on victims and the psychological elements of the role of judges and juries in responding to crime. A number of psychological practices used in the broad scope of criminal justice processes will be examined including interview techniques, eyewitness testimonies, offender and geographical profiling and credibility testing. Some of the psychological challenges encountered as part of the criminal justice processes will also be explored as they relate to false allegations, reliability of confessions, child witnesses and psychological disorders. Assessing offenders' risk by the use of psychometric tests, and the range of psychological treatments for offenders will also be examined.


On Successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. apply psychological theory to explain criminal offending and the impact of criminal offending on others;
  2. appraise the effectiveness of psychological techniques used in forensic investigations and responses to crime;
  3. evaluate the use of forensic psychology strategies in mitigating apparent challenges associated with investigating and responding to crime, criminals, victims, witnesses and criminal justice actors;
  4. examine the role of psychology in criminal justice processes and use written and oral communication skills to provide an appraisal of psychological practices;
  5. formulate a critical argument outlining the strengths and weaknesses of psychological approaches to understanding and responding to crime, the effects of crime and the treatment of crime.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Understanding crime from a forensic psychology theoretical lens 10.00
2. Forensic psychology and types of crime 15.00
3. The psychology of criminal justice players and processes 15.00
4. Forensic practices in criminal justice processes 20.00
5. Using psychological strategies to manage the challenges during criminal investigations and criminal justice proceedings 20.00
6. Psychological aspects of involving vulnerable persons in forensic cases 10.00
7. Risk assessments and offending behaviour treatment strategies 10.00

Text and Materials

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Howitt, D 2018, Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology, 6th edn, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, England.

Reference Materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student Workload Expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 65.00
Directed Study 39.00
Private Study 61.00

Assessment Details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
Presentation Part A 20 20 09 Aug 2021 2,4,5
Presentation Part B 10 10 30 Aug 2021 4,5 (see note 1)
Written Assignment 40 40 05 Oct 2021 1,2,3,4,5
Online Test 30 30 22 Oct 2021 1,2,3,4

  1. Marks and feedback from Presentation Part A are not required to complete Presentation Part B.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them, to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks for that item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative items for the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment Notes

  1. Referencing in assignments must comply with the APA referencing system. This system should be used by students to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ library's referencing guide. These guides can be found at

Evaluation and Benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:

Conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement and is benchmarked against the internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review.

Date printed 8 November 2021