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Psychology and the Law

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2019/20

Module Code:


Module Name:

Psychology and the Law

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Kim Wade

Module Teachers


Module Aims

This module aims to provide a broad understanding of the role of cognitive psychology in legal contexts. Topics can include: the legal system; eyewitness testimony; child witnesses; theoretical issues in memory distortion; identifying people; interrogations and confessions; repressed and recovered memories; intelligence gathering; deception detection; expert witnesses and more.

Please note: If non-psychology students wish to take this module, they are required to have completed at least one of the following cognitive psychology modules:

      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.

      Assessed by:

      Assessed work: Expert witness report (33%) & One two-hour unseen examination (67%)

      Module Work Load

      Module Length

      12 weeks


      3 contact hours per week – 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour lecture


      Optional reading group per week


      Attendance at each lecture session is compulsory

      Module Assessment


      Assessed work: Expert witness report



      Exam: One two-hour unseen examination


      Module Reading List

      Course reading:

      Readings for this module will include empirical papers and relevant books chapters. See module website for a full list of readings. 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.