PSYCH580-20B (HAM)

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Psychology


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Paper Description

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This paper introduces students to the study of criminal behaviour from psychological perspectives, including theories of the causes of criminal propensity and specific criminal events, and strategies for assessing and changing the risk of criminal behaviour. We will also explore some of the roles of psychology and psychologists in correctional systems and consider recent challenges to the way correctional systems operate, and some innovative responses. Topics are likely to include: theories of crime, risk assessment, rehabilitation and punishment, violent and sexual offending, psychopathy, working with indigenous people and indigenous approaches to crime prevention, mental illness and crime.

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Paper Structure

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Lecture Outline: Lectures will run from 4 to 6 pm commencing Thursday July 16, 2020. Lecture slides will usually be made available on Moodle prior to each class. Guest lecturers may provide additional references during their lectures. Be aware that not all lecturers may agree to make slides or notes available. This is their choice but all classes will be recorded and made available remotely for those unable to attend class. At this stage we expect to use a mix of classes held on campus and class sessions on Zoom. More detail will be available as it is finalised. Once the trimester begins, refer to Moodle for the most up to date information about the timetable.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Articulate a broad understanding of the psychological basis for criminal propensity and approaches to reducing it, with more in depth understanding of sexual and violent offenders, people with psychopathy, and prison violence
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of issues in working with indigenous people in correctional systems and some proposed remedies
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  • Succinctly critique empirical research using established evaluative criteria and communicate these critiques in writing
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  • Discuss psychological evidence underpinning the operation of the correctional system and identify gaps in knowledge
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment will be divided into two assignments and a final test. The allocation of marks given to the assignments and the test is described below. More detail on all 3 pieces of assessment will be made available in class and via Moodle once the paper has begun.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Assignment 1: Critical evaluation Task
14 Aug 2020
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Select and get approval for essay topic
31 Aug 2020
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Assignment 2: Essay on topic chosen by student
18 Sep 2020
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Test
29 Oct 2020
No set time
  • Other: TBA and DATE TBA
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Bonta, J. & Andrews, D. A. (2016). The psychology of criminal conduct (6th ed.). London: Routledge.

The previous edition will also be very useful:

Andrews, D.A., & Bonta, J. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct (5th ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Co.

There will be additional readings for a number of the classes. You will be advised of these on Moodle and in class.

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Recommended Readings

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Other readings that may assist students with their learning or essay development will be discussed during lectures. Readings may be identified and provided during the semester.

Students will want to identify their own readings for the essay.

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Online Support

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Student Resources:
Psychology Café: This is a Moodle space for all students and staff of the School of Psychology.
Use it to find out what is happening and what the School may provide for you. Think of it as our virtual notice board: it gives information about events, seminars, resources and study options. But unlike a notice board, it is interactive.

Graduate Virtual Common Room: (scroll down to the second section)
The Graduate Virtual Common Room has been designed to help you locate the resources you are likely to need as a graduate student, to find out what is happening in the School and to network with other graduate students.

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For a typical student a 15-point paper (offered over one semester) is approximately 10 hours per week, including class contact time for the entire semester including the recess. This figure is only an approximation because papers vary in their requirements and students vary in both the amount of effort required and the grades they wish to achieve.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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This paper is designed to complement other papers to provide students interested in a career in correctional psychology a basis for further study. Relevant papers include:
PSYC544 Psychology of Security and Crime Science (not currently offered)

PSYC560 Applied Behavioural Analysis
PSYC581 Psychological Assessment
PSYC556 Advanced Topics in Abnormal Adult Psychology
PSYC574 Principles and Theories of Cognitive / Behaviour Therapy
PSYC562 Theories in Clinical Psychology

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Restricted Papers: PSYC580

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