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PS351-15 Psychology and the Law

Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Kimberley Wade
Credit value
Module duration
12 weeks
33% coursework, 67% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module aims to provide a broad understanding of the role of cognitive psychology in legal contexts.

Module web page

Module aims

Topics usually covered include: the legal system; eyewitness testimony; the suggestibility of children; theoretical issues in memory distortion; identifying people; interrogations and confessions; cognitive theories of sex offending; repressed and recovered memories; deception detection

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Eyewitness testimony
Eyewitness identification
Source monitoring Framework
Interogations & confessions
Children in court
Case evidence
Revision sessions

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss the ways in which psychology has been applied to the legal context;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the current state of psychology and law research;
  • Compare and critically discuss the methodologies used in psychology and law;
  • Discuss the topics covered in relation to theories and debates in the applied cognitive literature.
Indicative reading list

For background and an introduction to psychology and law research, students are expected to read Loftus, E. F. (1996). Eyewitness Testimony. Harvard University Press.

Other recommended texts include:

Brewer, N., & Williams, K. D. (2005). Psychology and law: An empirical perspective. NY: Guilford Press.

Cutler, B. L., & Penrod, S. D. (1995). Mistaken identification: The eyewitness, psychology, and the law. Cambridge: University Press.

Loftus, E.F., & Ketcham, K. (1991). Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial. NY: St. Martin's Press.

Loftus, E.F., & Ketcham, K. (1994). The Myth of Repressed Memory. NY: St. Martin's Press.

Lynn, S.J., & McConkey, K.M. (Eds.). (1998). Truth in Memory. NY: Guilford Press.

McNally, R.J. (2003). Remembering Trauma. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Memon, M., Vrij, A., & Bull, R. (2003). Psychology and Law: Truthfulness, Accuracy and Credibility (2nd ed). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Ross, D., Read, J. D., & Toglia, M.P. (1994). Adult Eyewitness Testimony. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Rubin, D. C. (Ed.). (1995). Remembering our past: Studies in Autobiographical Memory. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Schacter, D. L. (Ed.). (1995). Memory distortion: How minds, brains, and societies reconstruct the past. Cambridge, MA, US: Harvard University Press.

Toglia, M. P., Read, J. D., Ross, D. F., & Lindsay, R. C. L. (Eds.). (2007). The handbook of eyewitness psychology: Volume 1 – Memory for events. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lindsay, R. C. L., Ross, D. F., Read, J. D., & Toglia, M. P. (Eds.). (2007). The handbook of eyewitness psychology: Volume 2 – Memory for people. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Tulving, E., & Craik, F.I.M. (Eds.). (1995). The Oxford Handbook of Memory. NY: Oxford University Press.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Understand how psychology can been applied to the legal context
knowledge of the current state of psychology and law research
Understanding of current theories and debates in applied cognitive literature.

Transferable skills

Effective communication skills to develop a cogent argument supported by relevant evidence and being sensitive to the needs and expectations of an audience
Familiarity with collecting and organising stored information found in library book and journal collections, and online,
Critical evaluation of primary and secondary sources
effective personal planning skills

Study time

Type Required Optional
Lectures 12 sessions of 2 hours (16%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (7%) 8 sessions of 1 hour
Private study 116 hours (77%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

116 hours of private study and assessment preparation


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D3
Weighting Study time
Assessed Work 33%

Online multiple choice assessment

Online Examination 67%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Formative and summative feedback is available in relation to the multiple-choice assessment. Further verbal feedback is available to students on request. Feedback on examination performance is provided in line with Department of Psychology procedure.

Past exam papers for PS351


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C800 Undergraduate Psychology
  • Year 4 of UPSA-C801 Undergraduate Psychology (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 4 of UPSA-C806 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C804 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 3 of UPHA-VL78 BA in Philosophy with Psychology
  • Year 1 of TPSS-C8P9 Postgraduate Taught Psychological Research

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C802 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics
  • Year 4 of UPSA-C805 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Unusual option for:

  • Year 4 of UPSA-C805 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics (with Intercalated Year)