Introduction to Forensic Psychology

This course - illustrated with examples of crime in the real world - will provide an overview of some of the most important issues in forensic psychology. Why do people become criminal? Is it their genes or their upbringing? Why do we punish criminals? We will consider ongoing research into neuroimaging of criminals, offender profiling, serial crime, and eyewitness testimony.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Provide an overview of the development of Forensic Psychology and the role of the scientific method in this;
  • Explain some of the key issues in psychological research as they apply to crime;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how psychologists investigate psycho-legal issues;
  • Critically discuss some of the most important issues in Forensic Psychology.

Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Room G37, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Start date
3 days
Day(s) and Times(s)
Wed 26 – Fri 28 July, 10.00am – 4.00pm
Jason Frowley
Room G37, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Time of Day
  • Early History of Forensic Psychology: demonology; witchcraft; phrenology; Lombrosian theory.
  • Twentieth Century Forensic Psychology: Hooton; Sheldon; Eysenck; modern neuroimaging studies of offenders.
  • Psycholegal Issues: eyewitness behaviour; police interviews; jury decision making.
  • Offender Profiling and Serial Crime: development and success of offender profiling; nature of serial crime and serial criminals.
  • Free Will and Responsibility for Crime: Do people really freely choose a life of crime? Consideration of psychological syndromes that seem to inhibit our free will.
  • Punishing Criminals: What is the purpose of punishment? Does it work? How can psychological studies tell inform the penal system?

Combination of lecture and class activites/discussion.


Harrower, J., 2006. Applying Psychology to Crime. London: Hodder Arnold.
Hibbert, C., 2003. The Roots of Evil: A Social History of Crime and Punishment. Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd.
Hollin, C.R., 2006. Psychology and Crime. London: Routledge.
Soothill, K., Peelo, M., & Taylor, C., 2002. Making Sense of Criminology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Wilson, J.Q. and Herrnstein, R.J., 1985. Crime and Human Nature. New York: Touchstone.

Class Handouts

Lecture slides/handouts will be provided for each class.

If you feel you have specific requirements to enable you to study with us, please contact our Student Support Team by email or by phone 0131 650 4400 to arrange a confidential discussion. Giving us this information will enable us to make arrangements to meet your requirements for studying in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010.