Psychology and Crime

Module code: CR2009

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sam King

One of the key areas of interest in Criminology is exploring the reasons why people commit crime. Many theories have been developed in an attempt to account for the motivation and causes of offending behaviour. One approach has been to look at the psychology of the offender: their thought processes and decision making; how they react to certain environments or circumstances; and the impact of their childhood and upbringing. In this module we will explore some of these issues by considering key psychological theories that have attempted to explain why people commit crimes, with particular reference to violent and sexual offending.

We will also consider how psychology has been used to examine various parts of the criminal justice process; from the scene of a crime (where evidence might provide clues as to the profile of the likely offender) to interviewing suspects (where it might be possible to detect deception).

Topics covered

  • Psychological theories and concepts
  • Risk factors associated with offending
  • Developmental explanations of delinquency and youth crime
  • Violent offending
  • Sexual offending
  • Psychology in prisons
  • Treatment approaches
  • Offender profiling
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Investigative interviewing
  • Jury decision making


  • 9 two-hour lectures
  • 8 one-hour seminars


  • Assignment, 4,000 words (100%)