PSYCHOL 4310 - Human Behaviour & Criminal Justice: Applying Psychology

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

Learn how psychological science can be applied to improve criminal justice systems. This course will take real cases from around the world and apply principles and findings from psychology to illustrate how to improve the fairness and efficiency of legal systems. We will explore the factors behind wrongful convictions of the innocent. The course will cover topics including the application of memory research to aiding the decisions of eyewitnesses?, interviewing witnesses, juror decision making and forensic science evidence, and forensic reasoning and bias. Students will develop their skills in applying research findings to real world problems, critical analysis of arguments and data, and communication of psychology to community members and other professions.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 4310
    Course Human Behaviour & Criminal Justice: Applying Psychology
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to two hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible PSYCHOL 4309, PSYCHOL 4209
    Restrictions Available to Honours B.Psychological Science (Honours) students only
    Assessment Written minor assessments and written major assessment
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Carolyn Semmler

    Telephone:  831 34628 
    Location: Floor/Room 711,  Hughes Building,   North Terrace
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Full details are located in MyUni.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    Understand the application of psychological research to legal contexts

    Communicate the value of psychological science to solving problems

    Understand the role of expert psychological evidence in Australian courts

    Tailor scientific information for communication to lay audiences

    Design evidence-based interventions to solve problems in applied contexts

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no required resources for this course. Readings and cases will be made available via MyUni throughout the course.
    Recommended Resources
    Web-links to legal resources and study guides will be provided to students during this course.
    Online Learning

    Material from the seminars offered during the semester will be made available on MyUni.


    This course may use MyUni for one or more of the following:

    - Communication with the teaching team via Announcements and Discussion Board

    - Submission of summative assessment

    - Access to additional readings and internet resources

    - Self-directed learning activities

    - Assessment preparation materials
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Series of interactive face-to-face seminars is supported by online resources in MyUni.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Full details are available in MyUni.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Full details are available in MyUni. Each week will focus upon a specific set of cases with discussions centred on key questions regarding the psychological aspects of the case. Experts in forensic and legal disciplines may lead these discussions.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Not applicable.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary



      Type of






      Learning Outcomes  
      being assessed





    Case Study  
    (1500 words)





    Expert Report
    (2000 words)

      Formative and



        2,4, 5



    Assessment Related Requirements
    Not applicable.
    Assessment Detail

    Case Study (Weighting 30%): Students will find and review a case where expert forensic testimony has been provided and assess the scientific basis for that testimony – applying the principles of measurement reliability, validity to the forensic discipline in question. They will propose a method for improving the collection or use of the evidence in the case - supported by scientific reasoning.

    Expert Report (Weighting 70%): Students will provide and brief of evidence in the form of an amicus curiae report. This will apply the literature from a specific area of psychological research to help resolve a legal question in dispute in the case (e.g., eyewitness evidence, confession or alibi evidence, forensic evidence).
    All assessment tasks will be submitted and marked on-line via MyUni (Turnitin will be used as a plagiarism detection tool), quizzes will provide immediate feedback on the content from the seminars as the course progresses.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M11 (Honours Mark Scheme)
    GradeGrade reflects following criteria for allocation of gradeReported on Official Transcript
    Fail A mark between 1-49 F
    Third Class A mark between 50-59 3
    Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B
    Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A
    First Class A mark between 80-100 1
    Result Pending An interim result RP
    Continuing Continuing CN

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.