Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
OfferedClayton Second semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Stuart Thomas


This unit focuses on ways in which the fields of psychology and law interact, in particular the application of scientific and professional aspects of psychology to issues concerning the law and legal systems. Topics to be covered include theories of criminal behaviour, assessment of fitness for trial, criminal responsibility, treatment of mentally ill offenders and forensic patients, violence and risk assessment, confidentiality, eyewitness testimony, jury decision making, psychological assessment of injured persons, involuntary commitment and expert witness testimony. Students will also undertake in-depth research of a specific subject matter relevant to the field of psychology and law


  1. Upon successful completion of this subject, students will have acquired an understanding of:
a. the application of psychological principles and research methods to the legal system, legal process and policy;
b. ways in which psychologists may be involved in the legal system; and
c. principles of law which are relevant to the field of psychology, in particular the notions of mental impairment and criminal responsibility.

  1. Students will develop skills in the critical evaluation of forensic psychology research and theories.

  1. Students will have acquired competence and generic skills such as written and oral communication of psychological research and theory in the legal context, group and team management in carrying out group research, and critical thinking and analysis in the preparation of an individual research paper.


3,000 word individual report based on group research: 30%
Research presentation:10%
Examination: 60%
Hurdle requirement: 75% tutorial attendance

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Stuart Thomas

Contact hours

Two x 1 hour lectures and one two hour tutorial each week. For each week during the semester, students will be expected to complete the equivalent of 2 hours preparation for each lecture, 2 hours preparation for each tutorial and 2 hours of research work/independent study (total = 12 hours study).


PSY1011, PSY1022, PSY2051




PSL3072, PSY3142

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: