Psychology and the law

"One of the obvious features of the criminal justice process is that it is operationalized mostly through people: witnesses, detectives, suspects, lawyers, judges, and jurors. The wheels of the system are turned by the mental operations of these actors: memories, recognitions, assessments, inferences, social influence, and decisions, all tied in with moral judgments, emotions, and motivations. Criminal verdicts can be no better than the combined result of the mental operations of the people involved in the process. It thus seems sensible to examine the workings of the criminal justice process from a psychological perspective."

Simon, D. (2012). In doubt: the psychology of the criminal justice process. Harvard University Press.

This course on psychology and law helps students and graduates learn how psychology is applied in criminal investigations so that they can innovate and excel in their careers.

This course is designed to introduce you to the key concepts, debates, and theories that underpin legal and forensic psychology. You will focus on the history of psychology and the law, the relationship between legal psychology, forensic psychology and other forensic sciences, and the distinction between science and pseudoscience. You will also learn how the identification of miscarriages of justice has driven reforms to investigative processes. 

The course features engaged teaching and learning, with real-world content, designed to prepare you to work with community-based organisations, or in private practice.

Course overview

Module 1: Preludes and overtures

What is forensic psychology? ~ What is legal psychology? ~ What is psychology and law? ~ Professional societies ~ "That's why I use the title forensic investigator" ~ Key case: The Norfolk 4.

Module 2: A history of psychology and the law 

Psychology vs. law ~ The pioneers ~ The first 120 years of psychology and the law ~ Hugo Münsterberg takes centre stage ~ The battle rages on ~ Psychology vs. law: The next generation ~ Sources of conflict ~ Key case: The Lindbergh baby.

Module 3: Forensic science (and pseudoscience) 

Science vs. pseudoscience ~ The CSI Effect ~ Fingerprints: Science or pseudoscience? ~ DNA evidence ~ Offender profiling ~ Thinking forensics ~ Key case: Brandon Mayfield.

Module 4: The psychology of criminal investigations

The psychology of investigations ~ Forensic confirmation bias ~ The disease of certainty ~ Types of forensic confirmation bias ~ Examples of forensic confirmation bias ~ When experts are ignored ~ Solutions to forensic confirmation bias ~ Key case: Jeffrey Deskovic.

Module 5: When justice fails

Miscarriages of justice: An introduction ~ How common are miscarriages of justice ~ Causes of miscarriages of justice: Prosecutorial misconduct ~ Causes of miscarriages of justice: False confessions ~ A system in denial ~ Key case: Andrew Mallard.

Module 6: Conclusions

How much influence has psychology exerted on the courts? ~ The consequences of errors ~ Innocence day ~ Race and miscarriages of justice ~ Key case: The Central Park 5.

Who is this course for?

  • Psychologists

    Students of psychology and registered psychologists considering a career in legal or forensic psychology.

  • Professionals in the criminal justice system

    Police officers, lawyers and social workers interested in understanding how psychological processes impact on criminal investigations and legal decision-making.

  • Criminologists

    Criminologists interested in the application of psychology to the criminal justice system.

Course cost:

This is no ordinary course....

  • 120 years of psychology and law

    Understand how psychological processes impact on the criminal justice system

  • Key cases

    Explore key cases that have helped to shape investigative processes and the criminal justice system

  • Bonus materials

    Download activity worksheets and links to additional resources

Meet your instructor

Dr Stephen Moston

Stephen's groundbreaking work on interviewing children changed the way that child witnesses are questioned. His subsequent work with the Metropolitan Police included creating a new information-gathering approach to questioning suspects, which Stephen labelled "investigative interviewing". This approach would become the foundation for the PEACE technique which has been the basis for police training in many countries for over twenty-five years. Stephen has been teaching legal and forensic psychology in Australia since 1992. He has been Head of Postgraduate Training in Forensic Psychology at two Australian Universities.
Stephen Moston

What others are saying

Previous students have said:

High expectations


I have studied under four different universities, and had many teachers in that time. Stephen is in a league of his own, and the best I have ever learnt from.I have already been implementing many of his teachings into my professional life, and have received great recognition from within my organisation for it.

Thorough and inclusive


Stephen was very supportive and his teaching style thorough and inclusive, which I feel assisted me to complete the unit successfully; when I felt very much overwhelmed from the get go.

Real life examples


The materials were delivered beautifully and with copious amounts of passion by Stephen Moston, who was always ready to give relevant real life examples. The practical component of the course was very engaging and I found it a very valuable introduction.


  • Forensii? Is that a typo?

    No, it's not a typo. Forensii combines all our favourite words - forensic, that's the "forens" part, and investigative interviewing, that's the "ii" part. Simple really. If you spot any other odd-looking words on our websites, those probably are typos. Sorry.

  • Can I get a refund if I’m not happy with a course?

    We have a 100% Money Back Guarantee. We believe in the high quality of our courses so much that if you are not 100% satisfied then you can cancel that purchase within 30 days of the purchase date to qualify for a refund of the full purchase price. Our one condition is that you should not have completed more than 33% of the course, or two modules (because if you really didn’t like the course you wouldn’t have completed more than that.

  • How do I pay?

    You can pay by credit card. We have a secure payment system powered by the leading online payment system: Stripe. If you need a payment plan, please contact us and we will help to set one up for you.

  • How long will it take to complete the course?

    It should take between 12 and 18 hours to complete the course, depending on how long you engage with some of the set ‘activities’. Each individual module takes between 2-3 hours.