Course Syllabus

Forensic Psychology

Draft Syllabus

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Crime Scene Tape

Semester & Location:

Summer 2021 - DIS Stockholm


3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Psychology, Criminology/Criminal justice, Sociology

Faculty Members:

Meiling Liu, Ph.D.

Program Director:

Helle Rytkønen- 

Program Contact: 

Academic Support: 

Time & Place:

Days: May 25-June 11 Monday- Friday

Time: 9.00-13.00

Room #: TBA

Description of Course

Prerequisite: A course in psychology at the university level.

What makes people commit crime? Are there gender differences? How do children experience legal systems as victims and/or witnesses of maltreatment? Are criminal investigations conducted differently in European countries in comparison with the US? Forensic psychology is explored from individual to societal levels, with critical analysis of - and examples from - a European perspective. Selected topics include cognitive, emotional, and social approaches to the nature and prevention of criminal behavior.

This course will provide a detailed overview of current research lissues and theories in forensic psychology. The goal of this course is to introduce you to some representative areas of forensic psychology and to teach you how psychology research contributes to the legal system. You will be introduced to the methods used by forensic psychologists to prevent crimes by exploring a number of studies devoted to topics related to forensic psychology.

This course will give you a sense of what forensic psychologists have discovered, how they have made these discoveries, and how it contributes to the legal system.

You will be introduced to and acquire knowledge about the following topics related to the study of forensic psychology:

  • The comparison of legal system: USA vs. Nordic countries
  • Victimology
  • Eyewitness
  • Deception detection
  • False confessions
  • Interrogative techniques
  • Offender profiling
  • Juries and decision making
  • Stalking 

Learning Objectives

  • Contrast the Nordic countries’ legal system with the American one.
  • Describe the psychological theories of crime, and explain criminal activities.
  • Identify the elements involved in false confessions and distinguish those issues from a Nordic perspective.
  • Evaluate the psychological evidence regarding eyewitness memory and the methods involved in interviewing techniques.
  • Explain the psychological aspects of legal proceedings such as jury decision making.
  • Formulate an understanding of offender profiling.
  • Define the causes and different processes involved in false confession
  • Describe psychological principles involved in deception detection.
  • Explain the focus shift of victimology, and care shift for victims.
  • Develop knowledge of the field of treatment for offenders and victims.


Meiling Liu

Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology (China University of Political Science and Law, 2010). Post Doctorate in Forensic Psychology (Gothenburg University, 2012). She has worked as an organizational consultant in areas of leadership and cross-cultural competence training in Sweden. Previously, Liu worked as a teacher and researcher at universities in China, and was promoted to the position of associate professor in China. She has been with DIS since 2016.


1. Required Textbook (Available in DIS Library):

Howitt, D. (2015). Introduction to Forensic and Criminal Psychology (5th) Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

2. Required Articles and Other Media on Canvas:

Bond, C. F., Jr., Levine, T.R., & Hartwig, M. (2015). New findings in nonverbal lie detection. In P.A. Granhag, A. Vrij, & B. Vershuere (Eds.), Deception detection: Current Challenges and Cognitive Approaches (pp. 37-58). Chichester: Wiley.

Boppre, B., & Miller, M. K. (2014). How victim and execution impact statements affect mock jurors’ perceptions, emotions, and verdicts. Victims & Offenders, 9(4), 413-435. 

Castillo, P. A., Mallard, D. (2012). Preventing cross-cultural bias in deception judgments: the role of expectancies about nonverbal behavior. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43 (6), 967-978.

Chrobak, Q. M., & Zaragoza, M. S. (2011).  When forced fabrications become truth: causal explanations and false memory development. Jouranl of Experimental Psychology, 142, 827-844. 

Fox, B. H., & Farrington, D.P. (2012). Creating burglary profiles using latent class analysis: A new approach to offender profiling. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39 (12), 1582-1611.

Granhag, P. A. (Ed) (2010).  Forensic Psychology in Context: Nordic and International Approaches. London: Routledge. Chapter 2, pp14-32. 

Granhag, P. A, Rangmar, J., & Strömwall, L. A. (2015). Small cells of suspects: eliciting cues to deception by strategic interviewing. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 12, 127-141.

Grønnerød, C., Grøndahl, P., & Stridbeck, U. (2016). Forensic psychiatric experts under the legal microscope. Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 21, 15–24.

Jakobsson, A., von Borgstede, C., Krantz, G., Spak, F. & Hensing G. (2012). Possibilities and hindrances for prevention of intimate partner violence: Perceptions among professionals and decision makers in a Swedish medium-sized town. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20, 337-343.

Kassin, S. M., Drizin, S. A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G. H., Leo, R.A., & Redlich, A.D. (2010). Police-induced confessions: risk factors and recommendations. Law and Human Behavior, 34 (1), 3-38.

Kendler, K. S., Larsson Lönn, S., Morris, N. A., Sundquist, J., Långström, N., & Sundquist, K. (2014). A Swedish national adoption study of criminality, Psychological Medicine, 44, 1913-1925.

Khoshnood, A., Ohlsson, H., Sundquist, J., & Sundquist, K. (2020). Deadly violence in Sweden: Profiling offenders through a latent class analysis. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 71.

Landström, S., Strömwall, L. A., & Alfredsson, H. (2016). Blame attributions in sexual crimes: Effects of belief in a just world and victim behavior, Nordic Psychology, 68 (1), 2-11.

Magnussen, S., Wise, R. A., Raja, A. Q., Safer, M. A., Pawlenko, N., & Stridbeck, U. (2008).  What judges know about eyewitness testimony: A comparison of Norwegian and US judges. Psychology, Crime & Law, 14(3), 177-188.

Millen, A, E., Hope, L., Hillstrom, A.P., & Vrij, A. (2017). Tracking the truth: the effect of face familiarity on eye fixations during deception. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70 (5), 930-943.

Narchet, F. M., Meissner, C. A., & Russano, M. B. (2011). Modeling the influence of investigator bias on the elicitation of true and false confessions. Law Human behavior, 35, 452-465.

Rozmann, N., & Walsh, S. D. (2018). Perceived threat, blaming attribution, victim ethnicity and punishment. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 66, 34-40.

Santtila, P., Pakkanen, T., Zappalà, A., Bosco, D., Valkama, M., & Mokros, A. (2008). Behavioural crime linking in serial homicide. Psychology, Crime and Law, 14 (3), 245-265. 

Scott, A. J., Nixon, K., & Sheridan, L. (2013). The Influence of Prior Relationship on Perceptions of Stalking: A Comparison of Laypersons, Nonspecialist Police Officers, and Specialist Police Officers. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 40 (12), 1434-1448. 

Sea, J., Kim, K., & Youngs, D. (2016). Behavioural profiles and offender characteristics across 111 Korean sexual assaults. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 13 (1), 3-21.

Sheridan, L., Scott, A. J., & North, A. C. (2014). Stalking and age. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 1 (4), 262-273. 

Skinner, C. M., Andrews, S. J., & Lamb, M. E. (2019). The disclosure of alleged child sexual abuse: an investigation of criminal court transcripts from Scotland. Psychology, Crime & Law, 25(5), 458-481.

Taylor, P. J., Larner, S., Conchie, S. M., & van Der Zee, S. (2015). Cross-cultural deception detection. In P. A. Granhag, A. Vrij, & B. Vershuere (Eds.), Deception detection: Current Challenges and Cognitive Approaches (pp. 175-202). Chichester: Wiley.

Thorley, C., Dewhurst, S. A., Abel J. W., & Knott M. L. (2016). Eyewitness memory: The impact of a negative mood during encoding and/or retrieval upon recall of a non-emotive event, Memory, 24 (6), 838-852. 

Vredeveldt, A., Hildebrandt, A., & van Koppen, P. J. (2016). Acknowledge, repeat, rephrase, elaborate: Witnesses can help each other remember more, Memory, 24(5), 669-682.  

Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., & Fisher, R. P. (2018). Rethinking the Reliability of Eyewitness Memory. Perspectives on Psychological Science,13(3), 324–335.

Field Studies (TBA)

1.  Visiting Mansjouren in Stockholm

DescriptionThere will be a presentation by Tero, an employee of Mansjouren, a short tour of the facility, and followed by asking questions and discussions. 

Objectives:You will be exploring a non-political and non-religious organisation that provides support and protection to men in crisis. By visiting the organization, you will be able to deepen your class learning in areas of victim service. 

2. Visiting Fryshuset

Fryshuset: Fryshuset is often referred to as the largest youth center in the world – but it is actually much more than that. Above all it is a vision based on the conviction that encouragement, confidence, responsibility and understanding are necessary in order to enable young people to develop their innate abilities and find their way into society.

Fryshuset is providing opportunities for young people mix with grown-ups to participate, contribute and learn by means of all kinds of creative and constructive activities. Fryshuset is a meeting place where people share and develop passionate interests, social commitments, sports, entertainment, culture and innovative educational programs.

Objective: You will be visiting Fryshuset to explore the effectiveness of different social projects that are aiming to help youth with violent histories to find their way into society.

3. Visiting Basta

Basta is an enterprise helping people away from drugs and criminality through qualified work, housing and a meaningful spare time. With itsphilosophy that regaining self-esteem is the base for a sustainable and permanent drug free life and the tool for a successful drug rehabilitation is work, Basta is owned and run by the client group themselves, meaning that about 95% of those working at Basta have experienced long/term drug abuse. It is a path to self-help. Through selling high quality products and services on the open market, and by running a successful company, people not only learn important communication skills and gain work experience, they also regain their self-esteem.

Today, more than 130 people are involved in Basta’s daily activities, andan extensive European network has been built and Basta has a long experience of running European Projects.

Guest Lecturers 

1. Malin Pauli is a licensed Psychologist, and Board Certified Specialist in Clinical Psychology/Neuropsychology. She works at the National Board of Forensic Medicine.  It is an expert authority within the Swedish judicial system with its' principal task of producing reports required in legal cases through expert analyses and assessments performed by chemists, biologists, doctors, psychologists and counsellors. The board has four different fields of operation – forensic medicine, forensic psychiatry, forensic toxicology and forensic genetics, and their work is commissioned by the courts, the police and the public prosecutors.

2. TBD

Approach to Teaching

I strive to create an interactive learning environment, in which you are expected to play an active and participatory role and being involved in discussion, asking questions and by completing tasks/assignments. You will be the center of the learning process, which means that you are not expected be a passive recipient of knowledge, but an explorer of theories and research findings. The goal is for you to develop your knowledge of the field of forensic psychology in its’ applied and research questions and problems.

My role as teacher is to help you strengthen the collective experience of the classroom in a shared learning experience.  The goal is to stimulate you to think, to help you explore and be productive, and to familiarize you with cutting-edge research. A variety of teaching methods will be used, including lectures, case studies, class discussions, group presentations, interactive classroom activities and multi-media to facilitate the understanding of theory, research and their cultural implications.

Collaboration is highly valued in this course, and you are expected to work both individually and in groups. Respect for other’s opinions and experience is a necessary requirement for this class.

Expectations of the Students

The success of this course is hinged on not only my ability to communicate ideas and concepts, but our ability to create an environment conducive to learning. You are expected to treat each other with respect, and be tolerant to different opinions. Any kind of biases and prejudices are not acceptable in the class.

In class we will use a case-lecture-discussion format and failure to adequately prepare for class will prevent effective participation. I expect you to have done the reading for each class and to come with notes and questions for me and for the other students. This will give us material to generate conversation.

Please note the following rules:

  1. A 3-week intensive course is fast paced. Heavy workloads are expected. 
  2. Hand in assignments on time.
  3. Complete all readings prior to class.
  4. This course will rely heavily on the Canvas system, and you will be responsible for checking updated information on Canvas.
  5. Be punctual and attend all classes; missing classes without a legitimate excuse will result in a lower final grade.
  6. Cell Phones, Laptop, and Related technology: Please bring a notebook and pen to class for taking notes, and only use laptops when instructed for specific activities. Please switch your cell phone off and resist the urge to text.


A number of diverse tasks will be given throughout the semester to address learning objectives. Emphasis will be on engaged participation, and may include individual and/or group based written/oral tasks. Projects may be given that will explore topics experientially.

To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work.


Methods of Evaluation

How is it evaluated?

(Individual or group)

Due Date


Engaged Participation

As indicated by class attendance, speaking up/asking questions/giving feedback in class, one in-class presentation of class reading
 Individual  Ongoing


Project Presentation 




False Confession Analytical Paper




Final Video Project Group  TBD 30%



Engaged Participation (20%):

Participation in class requires arriving on time and being prepared in relation to readings and other assignments and one class-reading individual presentation. Your participation grade reflects the importance of being active in this course, which relies in great part on the reflections, discussions, and exercises in class. Active participation is essential in both the classroom, on field studies, and in group work. Attendance is mandatory. Furthermore, you will complete an introduction assignment on the first of class and closing assignment on the last day of class.

Project Presentation (20%)

You are expected to complete a 20-minute group presentation with your group members on the second week. You will be required to survey a topic on a selected list, summarise your methods and key findings from your survey, evaluate problems and suggest improvement by relating to theories/research that you have learned in the class. The topic list and further detailed guideline will be provided in class.

False Confession Analytical Paper (30%)

Your will choose your “favorite” false confession case, analyze reasons why false confession occurred in this specific case, and propose solutions for preventing false confessions. Analyses and solutions should be evidence-based. A 5-6 page paper on this topic will be required to submit on line. More information on the paper will be handed out in class.

Final Video Project (30%)

This is a group project, consisting of you and two fellow students who will collaborate on the creation of a 10-minute video production.You will choose a topic and apply one case from the real world in relation to it or an act of crime case from criminal TV shows or movies, apply research to prove that it was, in fact, a wrongdoing and communicate accurate knowledge to your audience.

The video should consist of the following sections. Section one: 2-3 minutes, an actual criminal case addressing misconduct occurred at any stage of the criminal justice process. Section two: 5-7 minutes, analyses of the misconduct supported by conclusions based on cited sources or research findings. Section three: 2 minutes, a summary of takeaways from your video. The video should consist of a list of 4 peer-reviewed articles you cited, and at least two of them should be published after 2016.

There are different video formats you can choose from: traditional presentation, animated presentation, Powerpoint presentation etc.

Detailed assignment descriptions and/or rubrics will be made available on Assignments on Canvas and/or in class. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Policy on late papers

There will be a grade deduction for late submission. See rubrics.

Use of laptops or phones in class

Laptops/Tablets/iPads are not allowed to be open in the classroom unless agreed upon for specified tasks such as article reading and/or for discussion purposes and/or note-taking. Cellular phones must be switched off during class.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due