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Criminal Psychology

Course CodeBPS309
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Understand Criminal Behaviour

and become better at responding to criminal behaviour.

Do you want to understand more about criminal behaviour? Do you want to know more about why people engage in criminal behaviour?
Then why not study this 100 hour Criminal Psychology course?

  • Learn about the psychological problems associated with criminal behaviour.
  • Develop your understanding of criminal psychology and how psychology is used in law enforcement and crime prevention.
  • Learn about applying theory to criminal investigations, and treatment of criminals.
  • Learn from qualified, expert psychologists
  • Deepen your knowledge of psychology, and broaden your career prospects

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Criminal Psychology
    • Definitions of Crime
    • Consensus View of what Crime is
    • Conflict View of Crime
    • Interactionist View of Crime
    • Scope of Criminal Psychology
    • What Criminal Psychologists do
    • Case Study
    • Profiling
    • Courts
    • Correctional System
  2. Psychological approaches to understanding crime
    • Biological explanations of Crime
    • Phrenology
    • Eugenics
    • XYY Chromosome Model
    • Genetics
    • Twin Studies
    • Adoption Studies
    • Nature, Nurture
    • Environmental Explanations of Crime
    • Family Influence
    • Agency Explanations; Rational Choice Theory
  3. Psychology and understanding serious crimes
    • Aggression
    • Different Types of Aggression
    • Terminology
    • Drive Theories
    • Freudian Theories
    • Social Learning Theories
    • Biological and Evolutionary Theories
    • Types of Aggression
    • Aggression an against Outsiders
    • Aggression in Species
    • Aggression in Humans
    • Environmental Influences on Human Aggression
    • Imitation or Modelling
    • Familiarity
    • Reinforcement
    • Aggression and Culture
    • Other Factors in Aggression; Alcohol, Pain, Frustration
    • Murder
    • Sexual Assault
    • Stalking
    • Pursuit Behaviour
    • False Stalking Syndrome
  4. Mental disorder and crime 1 – Learning disabilities and crime
    • Meaning of Learning Disabilities
    • IQ Testing
    • Crime and Intelligence
    • Modern Intelligence Testing
    • Learning Disabilities and Crime in General
    • Sex Offences and People with Learning Disabilities
    • Courts
  5. Mental Disorder and Crime 2 – Psychopathy
    • Scope and Nature of Psychopathology
    • Personality Disorder
    • Psychopath
    • Heartless? Emotionless?
    • How do People become Psychopaths
    • Treatment
  6. Gender and Crime
    • Scope and Nature of Gender and Crime studies
    • Rates of Crime
    • Murder and Violence
    • Prostitution
    • Case Study –Women Offenders
    • Victims
    • Murder
    • Domestic Violence
    • Sexual Abuse
  7. Youth and Crime
    • Age of Criminal Responsibility
    • Risk Factors
    • Mental Health Risk
    • Conduct Disorders
    • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
    • Cumulative Affect of Risk Factors
    • Prevalence and Offending
    • Case Studies
    • Young People as Victims
  8. Psychology and the Police
    • Social Construction of Reported Crime
    • Eyewitness Testimony
    • Early Research
    • Schemas and EWT
    • Police Line Ups
    • Every day Uses of Psychology by Police
  9. Psychology in the Courtroom
    • Social Cognition
    • Behaviour
    • Appearance
    • Expectations
    • The Primacy Effect
    • Attribution
    • Schemas and Social Perception
    • Central Traits
    • Stereotypes
    • Social Inference and Decision Making
    • Psychology and the Law
    • Guilt Bias
    • Media Effect
    • Defendant Attributes
    • Attorney Attributes
  10. Psychology and Crime Prevention
    • Punishment
    • Types of Punishment
    • History of Punishment
    • Reasons for Punishment
    • Deterrents
    • Punishment and Impartiality

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • define crime and criminal psychology.
  • discuss psychological theories and approaches to understanding crime.
  • define serious crimes and explain the involvement of psychology.
  • discuss the relationship between a person having a learning disability and committing crime.
  • define psychopathy and discuss psychological theories relating to psychopathy.
  • discuss gender differences associated with crime.
  • discuss the psychological theories relating to youth and crime.
  • discuss how psychology is used by the police.
  • discuss how psychology is used in the court room.
  • discuss the use of psychology in crime prevention.

A knowledge of psychology can help a lot in working with criminals who have committed ‘serious’ crimes. What do we mean by that? Well, it is basically a crime that is considered to be extreme and therefore punishable by a severe sentence, such as burglary, rape or murder.  They are also crimes that are likely to have long term consequences for the victim. These tend to be sexual or violent offences. 
However, if you were to consider FBI standards, they view serious crimes to be events such as: 
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Vehicle theft
Personality Disorders Can Lead to Criminal Behaviour
A Personality Disorder is evident when a person has:
  • An enduring pattern of thinking, behaving and feeling that is significantly different from their culture and leads to negative consequences.
  • The pattern is longstanding and inflexible.
So a person with a personality disorder would tend to behave in a way that is not considered socially acceptable and this is an enduring part of their personality. For example, if someone is attacked and they fight back in self-defence, whilst it is not considered socially acceptable to fight, it is usually considered socially acceptable to defend oneself. The person does not usually behave like this, so it is not considered an enduring personality trait.  Therefore, the person would not be regarded to have an antisocial personality disorder. BUT, if every time someone annoyed or irritated them they became easily annoyed and hit back or attacked them, then this would be considered antisocial.
There are ten types of personality disorders, all of which can lead to negative consequences for the individual and feelings of distress. They include: 
  • Paranoid – feelings of distrust and suspiciousness
  • Borderline – patterns of instability in personal relationships, bouts of clinginess and affection, anger and resentment. Usually veering between two extremes. Extremely impulsive 
  • Schizoid – detachment from social norms and restriction of emotions
  • Schizotypal – discomfort in close relationships, eccentric behaviour and thoughts
  • Histrionic – excessive emotional behaviour and attention seeking 
  • Narcissistic – exaggerated self-worth, need for admiration, grandiose
  • Avoidant – feelings of social inadequacy, low self-esteem, hypersensitive to criticism
  • Obsessive-compulsive – patterns of obsessive behaviours, such as cleaning, need for perfection and control
  • Dependent – clinginess and submission, exaggerated need to be cared for.
  • Psychopathic -long standing, enduring pattern of thinking, behaving and feeling that is significantly different to the norm and leads to negative consequences.



This course is suitable for -

  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Solicitors
  • Lawyers
  • Policemen/women
  • Legal executives
  • Legal staff
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Youth workers
  • Counsellors
  • Care workers
  • Support staff
  • Probation workers
  • Social Workers
  • Anyone interested in learning more about criminal behaviour.
 Is This The Course For You?
If you are interested in learning more about criminal psychology?
If you want to understand more about why people show criminal behaviour?
Want to learn more about psychopathic behaviours?
Study in your own home with support from our friendly, highly qualified tutors?
If the answer is yes, then this is the course for you!  You can start as soon as you want and learn more about the field of criminal psychology.

Meet some of our academics

Gavin ColePsychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin is both a highly experienced Psychologist and tutor. Gavin has over 25 years experience in the Psychology industry, and has been working with ACS since 2001. He has worked in both Australia and England, and has been involved in writing numerous books and courses in Psychology and Counselling
Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Tracey JonesWidely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

Check out our eBooks

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