Psychology in a Legal Context

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Psychology in a Legal Context

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Legal Studies, Psychology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 and PSYC 212

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Psychological aspects of crime and the investigative/legal process.

    Almost every area of psychology has some relevance to the law. For example, research in psychology has been instrumental in helping us to understand how jurors make their decisions, why eyewitnesses are often mistaken, how people come to confess to crimes they did not commit and why a fingerprint expert might testify that two prints match when they don't. In this paper, we will use psychological science to examine how crimes are perpetuated, witnessed, investigated, tried and punished.

    Course Structure
    The major topics covered are:
    -Witnessing a crime
    -Memory decay and distortion
    -Interviewing eyewitnesses
    -Visual identification of a perpetrator
    -Recovered and false memories
    -Offenders and offending
    -Criminal profiling
    -Interrogations and confessions
    -Detecting deception
    -Trial tactics
    -Juror decision-making
    -Dealing with the guilty offender
    -Wrongful conviction

    Learning Outcomes
    Emphasis will be placed on experimental design issues in forensic psychology, the analysis and interpretation of relevant empirical evidence and the application of psychological knowledge to investigative/legal reform.

    A selection of journal articles and other material will be available on Blackboard and through the Central Library

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.