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Forensic Psychology

Dr Katrin Pfeil and Dr Lucy Markson

This course will focus on psychological aspects of investigations and will combine theoretical and practical approaches to activities central to investigative process such as interviewing witnesses and suspects, person identification, detecting deception, and jury decision-making. It will introduce students to the associations between various mental disorders and antisocial behaviour and criminal offending.

Consideration will be given to psychological theories of offending and predisposing and precipitating factors that influence criminal behaviour. Students will gain knowledge about the approach of the criminal courts to those with mental disorders as well as treatment options. They will also be introduced to assessing the risk of reoffending, and rehabilitation of mentally disordered offenders.

Please be aware there will be some content overlap with Crime and Criminal Justice.

Intended Audience

This course is aimed at students with a broad interest in psychology and law, and mental health and crime. This encompasses, but is not limited to, those majoring or minoring in psychology, law, criminology, and/or sociology.

Previous Knowledge

No previous knowledge of the subject is required, although the ability to critically analyse and discuss the course topics in an open-minded fashion is needed.

Transferable Knowledge and Skills

This course will develop students’ critical reading skills through engagement with a variety of readings on forensic psychology issues. Students’ intellectual skills will be enhanced by having to extract key elements from complex information, identifying opposing theories and engaging in lateral thinking. Seminars will be focused on student discussion and thus will develop communications skills and the ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely. Academic writing skills will be developed through the assessment framework.


Dr Katrin Pfeil

Katrin is a Gates Scholar with postgraduate degrees in psychology and criminology and she received her PhD in criminology from the University of Cambridge. She has worked as a forensic psychologist with mentally ill offenders, providing therapy and doing risk assessments. Katrin is currently a research associate at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge and focuses on women offenders. Her previous research focused on eyewitness testimony and person identification. 

Dr Lucy Markson

Lucy received her PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Cambridge. She is a research associate on the families and imprisonment research (FAIR) study at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge and a forensic psychologist for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). Her recent research focuses on the impact of paternal imprisonment on families. She is also interested in the role of psychology in prisons.