Programme Specification

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1 Programme Specification MSc in Forensic Psychology Entry Requirements: Applicants for this course must have a good Honours degree (2:1 or better) in Psychology that confers Graduate Basis for Registration of the British Psychological Society. Students for whom English is not their first language and who have not lived in a country where the first language is English for at least three years must demonstrate an IELTS of 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 575 with a score of 4.0 in the Test of Written English. Aims and Objectives: We aim to equip students with a sound knowledge and understanding of a broad range of topics in forensic and legal psychology. This knowledge includes not only an appreciation of theory and fact, but also an awareness of the strengths and limitations of research evidence, as well as its applications. This should enable students to seek employment in the field of forensic psychology with a view eventually to obtaining the status of Chartered Forensic Psychologist. We aim to achieve these by combining both practical and theoretical elements of forensic psychology and by providing a secure learning environment where students can develop their potential. Our objectives are that by the end of the Course, successful students who complete the course should be able to: Demonstrate sound knowledge of the core areas of forensic psychology. Critically evaluate materials relevant to the core areas of forensic psychology. Demonstrate an understanding of the contribution (actual and potential) of psychology to the Criminal Justice System as applied to the processes of investigation, custody, treatment and trial. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of psychology in relation to offenders, victims and witnesses (including both children and adults) that is sufficient to form the basis of a specialism. Demonstrate a sound knowledge of forensic psychology practice, including assessment, report writing and consultancy. Demonstrate the ability to design and run an empirical investigation in a forensic topic. Use transferable skills in oral presentations, academic writing and in practice settings. Produce a piece of work to professional standards which is useful to a forensic organisation. Course Content and Structure: Students are required to complete six modules, a placement and a dissertation, which are detailed below. Three modules are completed in the Autumn term and three are completed in the Spring Term. The summer term is devoted to the placement and dissertation, the dissertation being submitted in September. Whilst each module is separate, there is a degree of interaction between the modules and areas covered in the Autumn term are built upon in the Spring and Summer terms. This is particularly the case with the placements, as students are encouraged to take the theory that they studied in the modules and apply it in the field. A study support guide 1

2 is provided to each student, which details tips on researching and essay writing amongst many other topics. A course handbook containing administrative information such as submission dates, marking guidelines, is provided to each student. Dissertation and placement information and guidance is also contained within the course handbook. Autumn term: Legal Psychology This module explores the interface between law and psychology, particularly as it relates to issues of evidence. Among the topics covered are: (i) adult and child witness testimony; (ii) methods of enhancing testimony such as the cognitive interview; (iii) confessions and lie detection; and (iv) offender profiling Criminology This module examines contemporary issues within criminology. The module considers: theoretical and historical perspectives in criminology; the problems of measuring crime and crime trends; the media reporting of crime; the problems posed by different types of crime youth crime and corporate crime; the effects of crime; crime prevention and police responses to crime. Juvenile Deliquency This module aims to inform students about issues concerning juvenile delinquency. The module considers various theories of the development of juvenile delinquency, including personality, moral reasoning and social learning theory explanations, along with the role played by the family and peers. Specific topics covered are the problem of serious juvenile crime, and the relationship between substance use and crime along juvenile delinquents. The treatment and prevention of delinquency is explored, as is the settings in which this may be achieved. Spring term: Research Methods This module aims to give students an understanding of the research process. The module covers the different techniques used in forensic psychology research. It also covers data analysis, including the choice of statistical analyses and information about the use of computer statistical packages such as SPSS and QSR NUDIST. Workshops are offered as part of this module Psychology and the Courts The central aim of this module is to deal with the psychological issues that arise in and around court hearing, tribunals and related activities. Topics that will be covered include: the nature of the court system and the way they operate; legal concepts of evidence and a more detailed examination of the psychological issues that arise; the nature of advocacy, examination and cross-examination, and how the style of advocacy can influence the impact of evidence; factors that relate to the credibility of witnesses; and legal decision making by judges and juries. A workshop is held to cover issues relating to being an expert witness Assessment and Treatment of Criminal Behaviour This module aims to inform students about the methods of assessment and treatment of offending behaviour within the criminal justice system. Topics that will be covered include: the ethics of treatment; approaches to prevention of offending; how offenders are dealt with under the Mental Health Act; assessment of offenders; the role of mental illness, mental impairment and personality disorder in offending behaviour; the treatment of sexual and violent offending; and the assessment and treatment in prisons, hospitals and the community. 2

3 Key Studies Seminars are held throughout the Autumn term. These are designed to encourage students to consider what makes a key study in the area of forensic psychology, to advance presentation skills and to stimulate academic debate. These seminars are involve students present a key study in forensic psychology to the rest of the group for discussion. Students are strongly encouraged to act as Research Assistants to the academic members of staff in the Autumn term. Students select a member of staff to work with and aid that member of staff in their on-going research. Many students elect to continue their work into the Spring term. Students are required to complete a research diary and to produce a poster presentation about the research. Transferable skills workshops are held throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. These are lead by members of the course team and other professionals within the University, for example, the Student Learning Centre. These cover skills which students will also be able to use with them once they have left University e.g. writing skills, presentation skills and careers skills. Summer term: Placement The eight week placement gives students the opportunity to experience a forensic psychology setting. The placement aims to increase the student s knowledge of the work generally carried out in an applied forensic setting; to increase the student s knowledge and skills relating specifically to applying psychology in that setting; and to allow the student an opportunity to apply psychological skills and knowledge by completing a work-related project. Placements take place in a variety of settings including: academia; prison; mental health services; probation and the police. Empirical Dissertation Students must submit a satisfactory empirical dissertation of not more than 15,000 words on an approved topic. Research proposals are scrutinised by an Ethics Committee and must be approved before a student can commence their study. The study is completed under the guidance of a dissertation supervisor from the academic staff. Subject and Professional Skills Intended Outcomes Teaching Methods How Demonstrated Knowledge and Concepts Advanced knowledge of psychological theories/research and how they can contribute to our understanding of crime and criminals. How these concepts can be applied in a practical sense in a forensic setting. Techniques Understanding of all and practical experience of some of the following: researching, data analysis by quantitative or qualitative methods, research ethics and familiarity with IT systems. Independent research; lectures; module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placement; workshops, research assistantships, dissertation work. Independent research; lectures; seminars; private study; placement; workshops, research assistantships, dissertation work. 3 Formal written assessments, seminar presentations and empirical dissertation Formal written assessments, poster presentations, seminar presentations and empirical dissertation

4 Critical Analysis Ability to independently evaluate concepts and techniques, to critique material read and hence construct an informed opinion. Presentation Ability to organise research findings to construct an argument, to write assignments to a high standard, to write empirical reports in the format expected of publishers and to a high standard, to present statistical findings in the correct manner. Transferable Skills Independent research; lectures; module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placements; workshops, research assistantships, dissertation work. Independent research; lectures; module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placements; workshops, research assistantships, dissertation work. Formal written assessments, seminar presentations and empirical dissertation Formal written assessments, poster presentations, seminar presentations and empirical dissertation Intended Outcomes Teaching Methods How Demonstrated Managing Learning Ability to self-motivate learning to as to schedule work adequately and meet deadlines and to use feedback to improve upon learning and skills development Research Skills Ability to conduct literature review, to identify from this relevant material for inclusion, ability to write a research proposal considering ethics and other methodological issues, ability to devise research tools or to use correctly those already designed, ability to collect and analyse data, ability to present research appropriately Working Relationships Ability to work productively in a variety of groups and teams; ability to contribute and comment on ideas in seminar groups; peer assessment; ability to work with academic staff and other professionals in research teams, ability to work to a high professional standard within the forensic field with forensic practitioners Independent research; lectures; module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placements; workshops; research assistantships, dissertation work. Independent research; lectures (in particular the Research Methods lectures and workshops); placements, research assistantships; dissertation work. Module seminars, key studies seminars, research assistantships, placements, dissertation work. Formal written assessments, presentations and empirical dissertation Formal written assessments (in particular Research Methods module and placement), poster presentations and empirical dissertation Peer assessment of oral presentations, poster presentations, seminar work, contributions to dissertation supervision meetings and research assistantship meetings. 4

5 Data Presentation Ability to present statistical findings correctly and to present other research findings clearly with the correct interpretation. Communication Skills Ability to communicate effectively both orally and written in the context of formal written assignments, oral presentations and posters within seminars Special Features Independent research; lectures (in particular the Research Methods module); module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placements; workshops, research assistantships, dissertation work. Independent research; lectures; module seminars; key studies seminars; private study; placements; workshops.. Formal written assessments (in particular Research Methods module and placement), poster presentations, peer assessment of key studies seminars and empirical dissertation Formal written assessments, module seminar oral presentations, key studies seminar oral presentations, research assistantships poster presentations, and empirical dissertation Emphasis on application of skills to practical environment through the placement and the design and implementation of an empirical project. 5

6 Module Specification Criminology Credits 15 Term 1 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Charlotte Bilby 1 assignment ( words) Lectures/seminars 22 Private Study 90.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This course involves a series of lectures that will give students an overview of the nature of criminology and related disciplines. It will show how criminology is an inter-disciplinary subject, and offers wider, non-psychological, theories to explain and explore crime and criminality. Rather than having a systematic discussion on the nature of one aspect of criminology, the module will highlight some important and interesting areas that are currently under discussion in the field of criminology. Learning Outcomes: Analyse current and past theoretical perspectives in criminology. Outline and assess the problems of measuring crime and crime trends. Reviewed research in key areas of criminology such as media reporting of crime; the needs/rights of victims/survivors; the problems posed by white-collar crime. Place UK criminology within its international context. Methods: interactive lectures, seminars, private study Assessment: 1 x 3,000-4,000 essay at end of module. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; research skills, data presentation, communications skills, problem solving, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: To critically evaluate and use secondary data and research findings to construct an answer relevant to the essay question being asked. To write concisely and objectively using appropriate conventions for discipline. To present the essay answer in an appropriate format following guidelines given. To communicate ideas through written word effectively. To communicate research and ideas effectively with others through oral communication. Methods: Lectures, seminars, private study, essay feedback. 6

7 Module Specification Juvenile Delinquency Credits 15 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Ruth Hatcher 1 assignment ( words) Lectures/seminars 22 Private Study 90.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This module is designed to offer an understanding of why young people commit crime, the nature and extent of serious crime among young people, the relationship between substance abuse and juvenile delinquency and the nature and effectiveness of treatment of young offenders in various settings. Learning Outcomes: 1. To understand the different psychological theoretical perspectives and models of juvenile offending. 2. Appreciate that no one theory will sufficiently account for all crime and in fact that a combination approach may be better. 3. Understand the flaws associated with some of the research conducted particularly with regard to establishing a cause and effect relationship. Methods: interactive lectures, seminars, private study Assessment: 1 x 3,000-4,000 essay at end of module. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; research skills, data presentation, communications skills, problem solving, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: To critically evaluate and use secondary data and research findings to construct an answer relevant to the essay question being asked. To write concisely and objectively using appropriate conventions for discipline. To present the essay answer in an appropriate format following guidelines given. To communicate ideas through written word effectively. To communicate research and ideas effectively with others through oral communication. Methods: Lectures, seminars, private study, essay feedback. 7

8 Legal Psychology Module Specification Credits 15 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Dr Julie Blackwell Young 1 assignment ( words) Lectures/seminars 22 Private Study 90.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This module aims to illustrate to the student the variety of different ways in which psychology can contribute to the investigative stages of the criminal justice process. In particular it aims to assess the effectiveness of some of these approaches and their real use to investigators whilst recognising that some approaches are still in their relative infancy. It aims to dispel some popular misconceptions about the psychologist s contribution to this stage of the criminal justice process. Learning Outcomes: 1. To understand the different ways in which psychologists can contribute to the investigative process e.g. assessment, evaluation of testimony, training the police. 2. To understand the importance of demonstrating the effectiveness of these approaches and the obstacles for such types of assessment. 3. To be able to critically consider the evidence for the effectiveness of these approaches. Methods: interactive lectures, seminars, private study Assessment: 1 x 3,000-4,000 essay at end of module. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; group work, research skills, data presentation, communications skills, problem solving, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: To critically evaluate and use secondary data and research findings to construct an answer relevant to the essay question being asked. To write concisely and objectively using appropriate conventions for discipline. To present the essay answer in an appropriate format following guidelines given. To communicate ideas through written word effectively. To communicate research and ideas effectively with others through oral communication. To engage in groupwork to facilitate understanding of investigative techniques. Methods: Lectures, seminars, private study, essay feedback. 8

9 Module Specification Psychology and Court Credits 15 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Dr Julie Blackwell Young 1 assignment ( words) Lectures/workshops 20 Private Study 92.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This module aims to increase student knowledge of how psychology has and can contribute to the understanding of the processes that occur in the Courtroom such as the different participants decision-making processes. It also aims to give students the knowledge required to critically evaluate the accuracy of eyewitness testimony and highlight why some participants in the Court process may require special provisions e.g. children. An understanding of the role of psychologist as expert witness is also developed as is a general understanding of the court system. Learning Outcomes: 1. To understand the different ways in which psychologists can contribute to understanding court processes and what psychology has to say with regards to issues such as eyewitness testimony and biases in decision-making. 2. To critically consider the manner in which some studies, e.g. eyewitness testimony, have been conducted and the inherent problems of generalising from laboratory to real life. 3. To demonstrate knowledge of the admissibility of psychological evidence in Court proceedings and its limitations. 4. To present psychological research in a manner expected by the court system. Methods: interactive lectures, expert witness workshop, barrister workshop, seminars, private study Assessment: 1 x 3,000-4,000 assignment at end of module. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; expert witness skills both oral and written, research skills, data presentation, communications skills, problem solving, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: To critically evaluate and use secondary data and research findings to construct an answer relevant to the essay question being asked. To write concisely and objectively using appropriate conventions for discipline. To present the essay answer in an appropriate format following guidelines given. To communicate ideas through written word effectively. To communicate research and ideas effectively with others through oral communication. All skills are expected to have been developed from those shown in Term 1 using the feedback given. To demonstrate 9

10 a basic knowledge and understanding of oral and written skills useful to expert witnesses. Methods: expert witness workshop, barrister workshop, seminars, private study, essay feedback 10

11 Module Specification Assessment and Treatment of Criminal Behaviours Credits 15 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Dr Julie Blackwell Young 1 assignment ( words) Lectures 20 Private Study 92.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This module aims to provide students with a description and evaluation of psychological approaches to treating or managing offending. In particular it focuses on offenders with mental disorders, violent offenders and those who offend sexually. Both community and custodial settings are considered as are ethical and practical issues of treatment in both settings. It also aims to furnish students with a background to the treatment versus punishment debate. Learning Outcomes: 1. To demonstrate a good understanding of the various theoretical perspectives underpinning the treatment approaches. 2. To provide the students with knowledge about how treatment programmes are applied in practice. 3. To demonstrate understanding of how treatments are assessed for efficacy and to appreciate the problems associated with some of the measures of success that are used. 4. To show an understanding of the different issues involved in assessing and treating different types of offenders in different settings. Methods: interactive lectures, seminars, private study Assessment: 1 x 3,000-4,000 essay at end of module. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; research skills, data presentation, communications skills, problem solving, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: To critically evaluate and use secondary data and research findings to construct an answer relevant to the essay question being asked. To write concisely and objectively using appropriate conventions for discipline. To present the essay answer in an appropriate format following guidelines given. To communicate ideas through written word effectively. To communicate research and ideas effectively with others through oral communication. All skills are expected to have been developed from those shown in Term 1 using the feedback given. Methods: Lectures, seminars, private study, essay feedback. 11

12 Module Specification Research Methodology I Credits 15 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Tim Grant 1 assignment (subdivided into numerous assessments) Lectures/workshops 20 Private Study 92.5 Total Hours Subject Knowledge Aims: This module aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to undertake research in the area of forensic psychology. Students will learn about a range of research methods employed in forensic research. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques are discussed and students introduced to computerised methods of analysing both types of data. Ethical considerations are also considered as are the particular implications for the vulnerable populations with which forensic psychologists often conduct research. Learning Outcomes: 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide range of research techniques and to understand the assumptions and principles that underlie certain techniques/methods. 2. To make an informed decision about what techniques are appropriate in what situations. 3. To conduct research in an ethical and responsible manner. 4. Demonstrate familiarity with common statistical packages and the output they produce. 5. Critically evaluate research design and proposals 6. Write research proposals and research materials 7. Conduct literature searches and reviews 8. Conduct basic qualitative analysis 9. Conduct advanced quantitative analysis Methods: lectures, workshops, private study Assessment: 5 small assignments Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; research skills, data analysis and presentation, communications skills, problem solving, critical evaluation, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: The aim of the skills acquisition part of this module is in part to prepare students further for their dissertation and future work in the field. The learning outcomes therefore include being able to conduct a literature search via services provided by the library and be able to critically evaluate such research, to critique a student dissertation proposal with regards to ethics and feasibility, to construct a hypothetical research project proposal and to write it up in the specified format, to 12

13 conduct a qualitative analysis, to construct a survey and to interpret various statistical test output. Methods: Lectures, workshops, summative assessment, private study. 13

14 Module Specification Placement Credits 30 Contact: Dr Julie Blackwell Young Assessment Arrangements: Review of placement contract (2,500 words), Review of placement, placement project (5,000 words), supervisor s report. Fieldwork 225 Private Study Total Hours 225 Subject Knowledge Aims: This module aims to increase the students knowledge of the work generally carried out in an applied forensic setting, increase their skills relating to applying psychology in that setting and to allow the student an opportunity to apply psychological skills and knowledge by completing a work-related project. Learning Outcomes: 1. Show experience of working in an applied forensic psychology setting 2. Carry out research for an organisation 3. Prepare a project report for an organisation 4. Demonstrate an awareness of the issues involved with working in an applied setting Methods: placement supervision, placement assessments Assessment: Review of placement contract (2,500 words), Review of placement, placement project (5,000 words), supervisor s report. Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; working with professionals, ability to combine research, theory and practice, research skills, data analysis and presentation, communications skills, problem solving, critical evaluation, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. Learning outcomes: Analyse and evaluate data in an applied setting, discuss applied issues with placement supervisors and others within the placement environment. Methods: placement supervision, placement assessment, private study. 14

15 Module Specification Dissertation Credits 60 Contact: Assessment Arrangements: Dr Julie Blackwell Young 1 dissertation (15,000 words maximum) Lectures/workshops Private Study 550 Total Hours 550 Subject Knowledge Aims: Completion of a research proposal. Completion of a well-researched, ethically conducted, well-written and properly referenced empirical dissertation within the field of forensic psychology. Learning Outcomes: 1. Select an appropriate topic of hypothesis for investigation that is researchable and within the constraints under which he/she has to work (time available, nature of setting in which work is carried out etc.) 2. Design an investigation to a satisfactory standard, that is free from methodological inadequacies and, at the time of embarking on the study, could reasonably be expected to yield a satisfactory outcome in terms of answering the question(s) addressed by the study. 3. Execute a study in such a way that one could reasonably expect it to lead to a satisfactory outcome (e.g. enough participants are included and/or sensitivity of measures used are such as to offer a reasonable chance of demonstrating the effect being sought had this effect been present). 4. Execute a study in an ethical fashion as per BPS and University guidelines including a written analysis of the ethical issues. 5. Analyse and present the data in a satisfactory manner and without major weakness. 6. Write an introductory section which displays a good grasp of the background issues and literature. 7. Draw justified conclusion in a discussion of the findings and show an appreciation of the limitations of the study. 8. Produce a properly reference, well structured dissertation in a format suitable for publication. Methods: private study Assessment: 1 dissertation (15,000 words maximum) Skills Aims: This module aims to develop the following; research skills, data analysis and presentation, communications skills, problem solving, critical evaluation, and managing and reflecting on one s learning. 15

16 Learning outcomes: Locate, retrieve and present information clearly and effectively, experimental design, oral and written presentation of materials, data collection and analysis, subject knowledge, critical review of literature, organisation, time management Methods: oral presentation of research proposal, private study, tutorials, feedback on draft 16

17 Quality Indicators There are a number of quality indicators for the MSc in Forensic Psychology: External accreditation the courses underwent an accreditation by the British Psychological Society in 2003 which scrutinised the teaching material, methods and assessment for the course. Comments provided by the BPS were positive. The conditions of accreditation are currently being met and the recommendations of the BPS are being considered at the next Course Away Day. University of Leicester Academic Review the School of Psychology recently underwent an academic review. The Forensic Section provided their teaching materials and learning outcomes for scrutiny in January The formal response of the Academic Review Committee has yet to be received. University Learning and Teaching Strategy this has been consulted in developing the Form C s and Programme Specification as described above. External Examiners Reports External Examiners provide annual reports. Their feedback is considered by the Course Team and at the Taught Postgraduate Board of Studies. All recent reports have been extremely positive and minor issues raised have been dealt with. 17

18 2011/12 School of Psychology M.Sc./Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Psychology Period of Registration: One year full-time Module Code Module Title Credits Compulsory PS7200 Legal Psychology 15 PS7210 Research Methods 15 PS7220 Psychology & the Courts 15 PS7230 Assessment & Treatment of Criminal Behaviour 15 PS7221 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour 15 PS7260 Work experience placement 30 PS7222 Forensic Psychology Practice 15 PS7270 * Empirical dissertation 60 * Compulsory only for the degree of M.Sc. Entry Requirements: Candidates should have at least a good second-class honours degree in Psychology. Candidates for whom English is not their first language will be required to demonstrate an IELTS score of 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 575 with 4.0 in the Test of Written English. Curriculum: In addition to the taught modules candidates for the Masters degree also undertake a dissertation or project on an approved topic. Assessment: The pass mark at postgraduate level is 50%. This programme follows Scheme B of the Postgraduate Scheme of Assessment. Qualifications Awarded: (i) Candidates who accumulate 120 credits from the taught modules and satisfy the examiners in each of the modules will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. (ii) Candidates who accumulate 180 credits, satisfy the examiners in each of the modules and submit a satisfactory dissertation/project will be awarded a Masters degree. Notes: (i) (ii) Candidates may only be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma or the Masters degree. No candidate may be awarded more than one of the above qualifications. The Masters degree may be awarded with merit or distinction in accordance with the relevant scheme of assessment.

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