Forensic Psychology (12 month access)

Module 1- Forensic Psychology

Lesson 1: What is Forensic Psychology?

This lesson will introduce students to the world of Forensic Psychology by presenting a real-life scenario of a woman recounting her experience of rape. This case vignette will demonstrate the various roles that a Forensic Psychologist can fulfil. 

Lesson 2: Giving birth to criminals?

This lesson dives deeper into the world of the ‘criminal’ by questioning our own misperceptions and automatic beliefs of what constitutes a ‘criminal’, what we think a ‘criminal’ must look and act like. 

Lesson 3: Investigating Mental Illness and Crime: 1

While having a mental illness does not instantly label an individual as a criminal, research does indicate that a higher proportion of individuals with a personality disorder for instance are at a higher likelihood of getting into trouble with the law than people whose personalities are not thought to be extreme or disordered. 

Lesson 4: Investigating Mental Illness and Crime: 2

Lesson 4 furthers our discussion on mental illness and crime by distinguishing personality disorders from psychosis and further questioning the validity of an individual’s ‘sanity’ when engaging in an act of crime. Can these individuals be pardoned for their wrongdoing due to being mentally ill and therefore unfit to face a trial process? 

Lesson 5: Risk factors for offending

Building on from our discussion from lesson 2, this chapter aims to investigate the contribution of forensic neuroscience to the understanding of the aetiology (origin) of criminal behaviours. We will examine how the brain develops and the parts of the brain that are said to constitute the social brain.

Lesson 6: Psychological theories of crime

There are many general theories relevant to the study of crime. While it is important to appreciate that crime can be understood from a variety of perspectives, psychological theories of crime deal more with the specific aspects of crime.

Lesson 7: Legal systems vary worldwide

Different jurisdictions have different legal processes and protections to ensure that justice is done. This lesson considers the implications for Forensic expertise in civil and criminal proceedings whilst also providing critique towards the role of Forensic Psychologist Experts in court. 

Lesson 8: Ethical Concerns and Multicultural Issues in Forensic Psychology

As we have seen thus far, the character portrayals of Forensic Psychologists ignoring the ethical and legal constraints in order to solve a crime is grossly inaccurate. In this lesson, we examine the ethical rules and principles that guide the profession and discuss the clearly defined scope of practice and boundaries of professional practice. 

Module 2- Forensic Psychology

Lesson 1: Victim-Offender Overlap

This lesson examines how crime victimisation follows patterns. These patterns cannot be understood solely on the basis of psychological characteristics of the victims and can be better understood in combination with geographic proximity, knowledge of everyday activities of criminals/offenders in the area that they inhabit and visit. 

Lesson 2: Expert-Witness Testimony

In Forensic Psychology, the expert witness can undertake a number of different roles. In various circumstances, the expert may carry out evaluations examining the mental status of a client or complete a personal history review to explore the individual’s openness, cognitive abilities, attachment patterns and general capacity for describing his/her life in a coherent, chronological way. 

Lesson 3: Interviewing witnesses

In this lesson, we begin by reviewing some of the shortcomings and consequences of traditional investigative interviews and discuss the Cognitive Interview (CI), which was designed to interview cooperative, primarily adult, witnesses in light of these shortcomings. 

Lesson 4: Eyewitness testimony

Eyewitness evidence is one of the earliest and most widely studied topics in Forensic Psychology. Today, both police and courts rely on eyewitness evidence. In this lesson, we will focus on how memory works when it comes to remembering in the eyewitness context. 

Lesson 5: Interviewing suspects

Sooner or later, most criminal investigations will result in one or several suspects being interviewed. the outcome of the suspect interview is central to any investigation.

Lesson 6: Police interrogations

Psychologists have identified a number of key investigative tasks where psychology is particularly relevant. One of these tasks relates to the collection and evaluation of investigative information – the information obtained by suspects through police interrogations. 

Lesson 7: Detecting deception

How do we know whether someone is telling the truth or lying? As we have seen from lesson 6, the police will attempt to detect whether someone is telling them the truth or not during an interrogation. Psychologists have participated in the development and testing of a variety of techniques to detect deception.

Lesson 8: Body-language observation

In this lesson, we will attempt to identify objective verbal and nonverbal behavioural cues that may indicate lying and further debunk common misconceptions of deceptive behaviour such as being able to detect a killer from a 911 call. 

Module 3- Forensic Psychology

Lesson 1: Violence 1: Abuse

In this lesson we review four categories of child/adult maltreatment being physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect/failure to provide and emotional maltreatment. We will explore what incidence and prevalence rates mean in relation to the statistics on childhood abuse and examine some of the short -term and long-term effects of physical abuse in a child’s upbringing. 

Lesson 2: Violence 2: Interpersonal Violence

Violence against partners in the form of intimate partner or domestic violence has a long history and is still, unfortunately still common. It can include different types of violence and in different severities. 

Lesson 3: Sexual Offenders 1: Sexual assault

Sexual assault is on par with homicide in terms of how perpetrators are vilified by society. Sexual assault and its aftermath is also a major focus of forensic psychology. This lesson discusses the different forms of sexual assault, rapist typologies and possible motives for sexual assault. 

Lesson 4: Sexual Offenders 2: Child Molestation

In this lesson, our focus remains on sexual offending but specifically narrows our attention on child molestation. With respect to child molesters, the most widely used typology is Groth, Hobson & Gary’s (1982) typology of the fixated and regressed child molester. Groth et al. (1982) developed their typology based on research with incarcerated child molesters.

Lesson 5: Cyber-Bullying

Cyber-bullying forms part of a broader discussion on child victims and stalking behaviour through the internet. This lesson explores how the unregulated, anonymous and dangerous virtual space of social media can be towards potential child victims. Whether it is online grooming, bullying to sexual assault, we will try to map some of the characteristics of the type of offender who engages in this behaviour but does not have the intention of getting caught. 

Lesson 6: Homicide 1

Homicide represents the ultimate violent act for the victims obviously, but also for their families, friends, and society more generally. Homicide is also a major area of study within the field of forensic psychology. This lesson will try to understand the various forms of homicidal violence that exist, ranging from homicides that occur between husband and wife in the “heat of passion” to homicides committed by young children, new mothers, serial killers, and mass murderers. 

Lesson 7: Homicide 2

Forensic psychologists are also involved in the development of treatment programs to rehabilitate violent offenders, including those that have committed homicide, and they sometimes attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs. This lesson builds on lesson 6 and discusses some of the research that has been conducted to understand homicidal offenders and how to effectively manage their violence. 

Lesson 8: Terrorism

The study of terrorism and the terrorist is essentially a multidisciplinary endeavour, drawing on insights from a range of approaches and perspectives, and in this respect, of course, it is no different from other forensic areas. We will explore this further in this lesson and consider some of the central issues that might characterise our understanding of terrorism and the terrorist from a forensic psychological perspective. 

Module 4- Forensic Psychology

Lesson 1: Criminal Profile Analysis 1

There are two main branches of offender profiling that are typically carried out. The first, is the FBI-style of profiling used in the USA which will be described in this lesson further, and then there is the more actuarial or statistical style of profiling, most commonly attributed to the Behavioural Investigative Advice (BIA). 

Lesson 2: Criminal Profile Analysis 2

The actuarial or statistical approach to offender profiling originated in the work of David Canter (2004) which led to investigative psychology. This lesson will explore the statistic attempts to identify patterns in different crime characteristics and also give consideration to the geographical factors in the commission of the crimes. 

Lesson 3: Organised and Disorganised Crime Scenes

Information from the crime scene is used to classify the crime scene into organised (where there is evidence that the crime has been carefully planned) or disorganised (where the crime scene looks chaotic and there is little sign of preparation for the crime. This lesson will examine how an organised crime scene suggests, for example, a sexually competent, charming person who lives with a partner while, a disorganised crime scene is indicative of an offender with low intelligence, unskilled occupation and who lives alone. 

Lesson 4: Modus Operandi and Crime Signature

As part of the criminal profile analysis and exploration of crime scene characteristics based on different crimes, this lesson will investigate the idiosyncratic nature in which offenders commit the particular crime and try to identify the subtle intricacies of their ‘crime signature’ by using the famous case of Jack the Ripper as a case study. 

Lesson 5: Assessment of Risk, Danger and Recidivism 1

Risk and dangerousness assessment refers to a variety of methods developed to limit the levels of risk and danger to the public while allowing offenders liberty. This lesson will present risk assessment as not a precise science but a useful exercise to perform in obtaining some useful predictors. 

Lesson 6: Assessment of Risk, Danger and Recidivism 2

Structured clinical methods have been developed to determine risk, danger and recidivism which involve a degree of clinical judgement but provide a systematic checklist of decisions which need to be taken. This lesson will apply clinical methods of risk assessment such as the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) to determine prediction outcomes whilst critically examining judgement and bias errors that can occur when conducting the various assessments. 

Lesson 7: Interventions to Reduce Re-Offending

The rehabilitation of offenders is a multifaceted process involving re-entry, and ultimately reintegration, into social networks and the broader society. While offenders need to work hard at modifying their offence-related personal characteristics, the community also has an obligation to buttress this individual work with social supports and resources. 

Lesson 8: Future Directions for Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology is a growing and evolving profession. Much of its concern with crime, law enforcement and the legal system is dealing directly with individuals. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with 10 emerging areas in the field of Forensic Psychology, explore its current limitations and examine foundational cases in which Forensic Psychology was crucial.  

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    Forensic Psychology

    Immerse yourself in the world of understanding criminals, their actions and the causes of their behaviour though this online course in forensic psychology.

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