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PSY8055 : Investigative Psychology & Forensic Interviewing

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon
  • Lecturer: Dr Nicole Adams-Quackenbush, Professor Vicki Bruce, Dr Carla Chivers
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to provide students with an appreciation of the ways in which psychological theory can be applied to the process of criminal investigations and the advancement of methods designed to facilitate the detection of offenders and truth finding in forensic interviews. This includes offender profiling, eyewitness identification and the interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspected offenders, including children and vulnerable persons. The module will highlight a range of theoretical paradigms that are relevant to the investigative process (including decision making processes), and will provide students with a detailed understanding of the ways in which the collection of evidence, through appropriate and psychologically robust interviewing techniques, has been enhanced and improved upon over the past two decades.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       Psychology applied to the process of criminal investigations;
•       Offender profiling;
•       Investigative interviewing of child/adult witnesses/suspects;
•       Vulnerability;
•       Use of intermediaries;
•       Face perception/recognition;
•       Eyewitness identification;
•       Detecting deception.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops112:0022:00Present in person sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1178:00178:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

To attain the intended knowledge outcomes and skills in full, it will be essential that students engage in private study before and after the taught sessions. The private study time will allow students to carry out an in-depth review of the knowledge imparted through workshops, to generate their own views on the topics and to follow these out by carrying out independent literature reviews, thereby taking control over their learning and preparing them for the module assignment. Present in person teaching (PIP) sessions across the module will be delivered and will be used to facilitate a workshop approach to module delivery to clarify and enhance understanding of module content.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M100Investigative interview question plan Recorded mock interview - group submission 1500 word maximum evaluative report of interview
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MTo submit example investigative questions and provide written justification
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative assessment involves the creation of high-quality investigative questions that could be asked to a witness of a crime. The students will receive some details of a real police investigation, minus most of the information and evidence. They will then formulate 10 questions they would want to ask a witness to that crime to gather more information. The students will submit these questions and the justifications for asking them. They will receive written feedback on the quality of their questions, as well as suggestions to improve them. These questions will be used as part of the summative assessment, and evaluate the students understanding of investigative questioning, information-gathering interviews, and information elicitation.

This module will be assessed by ECA (portfolio) that covers the primary components and competencies for investigative and forensic interviewing:

1: Planning (5%) - Trainee's to respond to formative feedback received to develop their investigative interview plan.
2. Interview (25%, 30 minutes, group submission) - Trainees will conduct and record an interview to elicit information about an event. The aim of this part of the assessment is to assess their use of interview techniques and execution of/adherence to PACE and PEACE guidelines and develop skills around teamwork.
3. Reflection and Evaluation (70%) - Once the interviews have taken place, the students will use the information obtained from the interview to write an independent report that will justify the questions asked, justify the interview approach, to evaluate the information they have on the case, and to create two scenarios on who committed the crime and how. This will assess critical thinking and evaluation skills, clear and effective communication skills, and the ability to demonstrate their comprehension the core concepts of investigative interviewing.

Reading Lists