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PSYC325 Psychology in Legal Contexts

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Psychological aspects of crime and the investigative/legal process.

Almost every area of psychology has some relevance to the law. For example, research in psychology has been instrumental in helping us to understand how jurors make their decisions, why eyewitnesses are often mistaken, how people come to confess to crimes they did not commit and why a fingerprint expert might testify that two prints match when they don't. In this paper, we will use psychological science to examine how crimes are perpetuated, witnessed, investigated, tried and punished.

Paper title Psychology in Legal Contexts
Paper code PSYC325
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 and PSYC 212
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in each of PSYC 210 and 212 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 211.

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in PSYC 211 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 210 and 212.


Teaching staff
Lecturer: Associate Professor Rachel Zajac
Paper Structure
The major topics covered are:
  • Witnessing a crime
  • Memory decay and distortion
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses
  • Visual identification of a perpetrator
  • Recovered and false memories
  • Offenders and offending
  • Criminal profiling
  • Interrogations and confessions
  • Alibis
  • Detecting deception
  • Trial tactics
  • Juror decision making
  • Dealing with the guilty offender
  • Wrongful conviction
Teaching Arrangements
One 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour lecture per week.
A selection of journal articles and other material will be available on Blackboard and through the Central Library.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this paper places emphasis on experimental design issues in forensic psychology, the analysis and interpretation of relevant empirical evidence and the application of psychological knowledge to investigative/legal reform.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 18-22
Tuesday 09:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22