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In this unit you will explore the close relationship between the disciplines of psychology and criminal law. It will enhance your capacity to work professionally in the criminal justice system, including as a practising lawyer or in policy formation. The unit builds on core concepts in Criminal Law  – in particular assessments of an accused’s state of mind during a potentially criminal act or omission. You will become familiar with the role of practitioners such as psychologists and psychiatrists in criminal procedure (e.g assessments of fitness to plea), evidence, defences (e.g. insanity, sane automatism and intoxication), sentencing and parole (e.g. guiding decisions of risk and prospects of rehabilitation). You will also develop an awareness of psychological concepts that are frequently discussed in Australian criminal courts, such as false memory, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, personality disorders, addictions and IQ. The unit will discuss some key psychological dynamics that influence courtrooms, including victims’ reactions to stressors, and, misconceptions about forensic evidence.

Summary 2021

Unit name Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice
Unit code LAW295
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Law
Discipline Law

Dr Caroline Spiranovic

Available as student elective? No
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and explain the broader criminal justice system context surrounding psycho-legal decision-making.
  2. Identify relevant psychological and forensic psychological considerations at discrete stages of the criminal justice process.
  3. Discuss relevant civil and criminal case law, criminal and civil procedures relevant to the field of forensic psychology.
  4. Critically appraise criminal procedures and decision-making with reference to evidence-based knowledge from the fields of psychology and forensic psychology.



Teaching Pattern

Weekly Online Class


Task 1: Group presentation, 20 minutes (25%)

Task 2: Seminar contribution (25%)

Task 3: Take home exam, 3000 words (50%)

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



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