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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3546 Criminological Psychology: Violence, Drugs and Sex

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Professor Mitch Waterman

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of all pass for progression modules in Level 2 of: BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology (and its International and Industrial variants)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module aims to advance students' understanding of criminological psychology, with specific reference to the nature of violent, sexual and drug crime and those with offending histories. It examines crime prevalence, delinquency, and then focuses on theories about normal and criminal behaviour, before going on to consider assessment and treatment of offenders. Key challenges for the field, as a scientific discipline with practical applications will be the overarching framework for the module. It is the nature of the content of this module that material will at times be sensitive - the discussion of violent, sexual and drug crime and their treatment.


This module aims to introduce and advance students' critical understanding of criminological psychology. Students will learn about the ways in which crime is measured and current prevalence in the UK, and elsewhere. The predictive factors identified for criminality will be examined. Students will contrast criminological theory with theoretical positions on aggression, addiction and sexual behaviour, in order to appreciate how normal behaviour can be deviated into the criminal. The focus will be on people with offence histories in challenging groups; those with histories of violent, sexual and drug offending. Students will appreciate how assessment of risk and other features of criminal behaviour are operationalised, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. In turn, students will examine treatment approaches, aimed at addressing violence and sexual violence and substance abuse, again with the objective of identifying strengths and weaknesses of treatment approaches. Overarching objectives for the module include the identification of key challenges in forensic and criminological psychology, as applied scientific disciplines and the practical applications thereof.

Learning outcomes
'y the end of the module students will be able to:
1. Critically discuss the current prevalence and public misperceptions of crime
2. Compare, contrast and synthesise theoretical positions on ‘normal' and criminal behaviour on either violent, sexual or drug crime.
3. Identify and critically analyse assessment and treatment targets for those with criminal histories of either violent, sexual or drug crime.
4. Situate assessment and treatment approaches within a historical, theoretical and practical context

Skills outcomes
Evaluation of risk assessment of offenders
Evaluation of treatment approaches for offenders


1. Crime: its measurement and prevalence. Is public perception accurate?
2. Pathways into crime: delinquent behaviour, taxonomies of offenders and criminal histories
3. Criminal and prison life
4. Theoretical perspectives 1: Violence and aggressive behaviour
5. Theoretical perspectives 2: Sexual violence and sexual behaviour
6. Theoretical perspectives 3: Drug crime, substance abuse, and addiction
7. Assessment and treatment of offenders 1: priorities, risk, recidivism, 'What works', 'Risk, Needs, Responsivity'
8. Assessment and treatment of offenders 2: Recovery, CBT, behavioural and pharmacological interventions, Better Lives
9. Assessment and treatment effectiveness
10. What's 'wrong' with forensic and criminological psychology?
11. Major challenges: society, retribution, rehabilitation and reform.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment15.005.00
Private study hours129.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive feedback directly on their group presentations by the module leader and other students at a seminar/presentation assessment session in week 5. The slide deck and quality of presentation will be marked and feedback provided formally: this will show if students have identified correct sources and navigated ONS/UK Gov/HMPPS sites, which in turn will be helpful for the final essay.
Formative feedback/feedforward will be delivered via the assessment of a zero-weighted essay plan to be submitted in week 8 of the module, and returned in week 9, to help students finalise their essays for submission at the end of the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500-word essay80.00
PresentationGroup PowerPoint presentation (15-minutes)20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

1. The group presentation will require groups of 5-6 students to identify two media reports of the prevalence of a particular type of crime, find the relevant accurate statistics on the true prevalence, and reflect on 1. How the reporting might have been misleading or otherwise, and 2. How the true prevalence might be more accurately reported. All students in the group will receive the same mark. These will be presented in a 5 hour seminar/assessment session, to provide immediate feedback. 2. The final 2,500 essay will require individual students to decide on a type of crime (violent, sexual, drug) and reflect on the parallels between theories of 'normal' behaviour (aggression, sexual behaviour, addiction) and their respective criminological theories (violent, sexual and drug crime). In so doing they will be required to reflect on the effectiveness of current assessment and treatment approaches for those types of crime, offering practical suggestions for improvement of both assessment and treatment. Students may select a type of behaviour/crime addressed in ONE of the crime discussions selected for the group presentation. 3. The essay plan to be submitted in week 8 will be marked and provide formative feed forward for the final essay submission.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:21:45


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