Forensic Cognition: Theory, Research and Practice - PSYC8470

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Caoilte O Ciardha checkmark-circle


This module asks what sort of thinking occurs in individuals who sexually molest children, rape adults, or commit acts of violence. Do they think their actions are legitimate in some instances or do they know their actions are wrong but choose to offend nonetheless? Cognition, or thinking, is recognised as being a key component underlying the way people think and behave. Understanding how research on cognition and social cognition can be applied to crime allows researchers and practitioners to shed light on offenders' antisocial behaviours. In this strongly research-based course, you will learn about some of the influential theories that have been developed to help explain offenders’ antisocial actions, the latest cutting-edge research designed to help understand why men offend, and widely used treatment programmes designed to alter cognitive characteristics associated with offending in order to reduce recidivism. This course will not be limited to offenders’ cognition, however. You will also learn about fascinating social-cognitive phenomena associated with child and adult eyewitness testimony, and how memory can play havoc with the criminal justice system.


Contact hours

Private Study: 170
Contact Hours: 30
Total: 200


Compulsory to the following courses:
• MSc Forensic Psychology

Optional to the following courses:
• None

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Research Proposal (3,000 words)

Reassessment methods

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of forensic-related cognition for a wide range of offending and non-offending groups.
2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of socio-cognitive factors that may be relevant at different stages in the criminal justice process.
3. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the usefulness and applicability of various research methodologies used to investigate forensic-related cognition.
4. Critically evaluate forensic-related cognitive research in the laboratory, field settings, and in court.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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