PSYC441-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Special Topic: Forensic Psychology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


Special Topic: Forensic Psychology

This course is concerned with the psychology of crime, the potential roles of psychologists in the criminal justice system, and what psychological research can tell us about broader issues in the legal system. There will be a particular emphasis on the contribution that psychological inquiry and practice can make to addressing some of the pressing issues in current forensic psychology practice and how empirical research can address applied issues within the criminal justice system. As such, a large focus of the course is on the development and application of critical thinking and evidence-informed decision-making to understand contemporary and controversial issues in the field, such as:
• The principles and application of risk assessment in offender management, including the use of automated tools
• Strengths and limitations of various models of rehabilitation, including the debate between strength-based and "deficits-based" models, understanding the implications of these models for different populations of offenders, and critically examining the cultural appropriateness of modern offender management practices
• Evidence for systemic bias in the criminal justice system, in topics like jury decision-making and forensic science
• How cognition and perception can influence decision-making in the legal system and associated consequences of this, such as false confessions, eyewitness evidence and difficulties in detecting deception

Learning Outcomes

  • On successfully passing this course, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of issues and controversies at the forefront of modern forensic psychology theory and research.
  • Utilize critical thinking skills to examine and evaluate their own beliefs and understanding of contemporary issues in forensic psychology and effectively communicate these perspectives.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the psychological and cultural factors that influence modern offender management practices.
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches and models for preventing offending and rehabilitating offenders, including kaupapa Māori models.
  • Understand the various factors that impact the appropriate collection and utilization of forensic-related data in research and practice, including the ethical and cultural considerations involved in the use of such data.

Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 11:00 Ernest Rutherford 141
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun

Course Coordinator

Bethany Growns


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Seminar Presentation 35%
Discussion Questions 10%
Discussion Answers 20%
Written Report 35%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Bonta, James , Andrews, D. A., Andrews, D. A; The psychology of criminal conduct ; Sixth edition; Routledge, 2016.

Howitt, Dennis; Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology ; Sixth edition; Pearson Education Limited, 2018.

There are no required textbooks for this course. Assigned readings for lectures will be provided online via LEARN.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,079.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing .

All PSYC441 Occurrences

  • PSYC441-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023