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PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology and PSYC101 Applications of Psychology


(PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology AND PSYC101 Applications of Psychology )

Teaching organisation

3 hours contact per week over 12 weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit offers you with the opportunity to explore an area of applied psychology that is aligned with a major area of psychological research and professional practice - forensic psychology. It provides you with opportunities to engage with theory and research in the context of the interplay between psychology and the legal system.

This unit explores how forensic psychologists contribute to the criminal justice system through the application of psychological understandings of crime, and the assessment, rehabilitation and treatment of offenders. An overview of the criminal justice system and aspects relevant to forensic psychology are examined. Pertinent issues covering witnesses, offenders and psychological principles and their application are discussed.

The aim of this unit is to provide foundational knowledge of a specialised area of practice within psychology, namely, forensic psychology. You will be introduced to the important role psychology plays within the legal system in the investigation and prosecution of crime, and in the sentencing, punishment and rehabilitation of offenders.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - demonstrate an understanding of the role of a forensic psychologist in relation to research and practice (GA4, GA5, GA6);

LO2 - describe the role of psychology in understanding the issues pertaining to witnesses and offenders and the application of psychological principles and processes to the criminal justice system (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6);

LO3 - explain the implications of psychological constructs such as false memory and suggestibility for understanding eyewitness testimony and other forensic issues (GA4, GA5);

LO4 - evaluate the utility of psychological principles and processes in the forensic context (GA3, GA4, GA5).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account


Topics will include: 

  • What is forensic psychology and what do forensic psychologists do? 
  • Research and practice relating to forensic psychology. 
  • Overview of the criminal justice system, including how one’s experience may be influenced by factors such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, health, intelligence, education, and socio-economic status. 
  • Issues pertaining to witnesses, including eyewitness testimony, false memory, suggestibility, expert witnesses, special groups e.g., children, people in minority groups. 
  • Issues pertaining to offenders, including responsibility, motivations, relevant psychological disorders, suicide and self-injury in offenders. 
  • Applications of psychological principles and processes to the forensic context, including profiling, detecting deception and lies, interrogation and interviewing techniques, predicting dangerousness, and jury decision making. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning in interactive lectures, case-based learning, individual and group activities, and reflective/critical thinking activities, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide you with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for development of critical thinking skills that are pertinent to this area of psychology. These strategies will allow you to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable you to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. Recall of key knowledge concepts is assessed via multiple choice questions in the mid-semester and final exams. Short answer questions in those exams provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and your ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. Critical thinking exercises provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to apply your knowledge of forensic psychology and your critical thinking skills to “real-world” situations representative of a range of scenarios that are relevant to the work of a forensic psychologist.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical thinking workbook –

enables you to apply your knowledge of forensic psychology to real-world scenarios.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6

Mid-semester exam –

assesses knowledge and understanding of unit content. 


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5 

End of semester exam

assesses knowledge and understanding of unit content.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5 

Representative texts and references

Crighton, D.A. & Towl, G.J. (2015). Forensic psychology (2nd ed.). West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Inc. 

Gavin, H. (2013). Criminological and forensic psychology. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications Ltd. 

Howitt, D. (2015). Introduction to forensic and criminal psychology. Great Britain: Pearson Education Ltd. 

Scott-Snyder, S. (2017). Introduction to forensic psychology: Essentials for law enforcement. USA: Taylor & Francis Inc. 

Taylor, S. (2015). Forensic psychology: The basics. London, UK: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

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