Forensic psychology

Explore how your own mind works, and discover how the limitations of the human brain can lead to major miscarriages of justice.

Despite advances in forensic science, eyewitness testimony remains a critical component of criminal investigations. Psychological research has revealed the dangers of relying on evidence gained from an eyewitness and also how careful the police need to be when questioning witnesses.
What’s it about?

Crime dramas have become incredibly popular and many of us are used to seeing our favourite detectives cracking the case and arresting the criminal. In real life, cases are rarely straightforward, and there is often considerable uncertainty as to whether the person accused of the crime actually did it.

In this course, you will explore how psychological knowledge can be used to help prevent wrongful convictions and how it has helped obtain evidence from eyewitnesses. You will follow the investigation of an armed robbery, evaluate the evidence gathered and see if you can solve the case as well as the police did.

What will I learn?

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • understand the psychology of eyewitness testimony
  • develop your own investigative skills
  • explore human cognition and discover the mistakes your own brain can make
  • discuss concepts of criminal investigation
  • consider the relationship between limitations of the human brain and miscarriages of justice.


What’s involved?

Using videos of real witnesses and from cameras that go behind the scenes of a police investigation, this course explores the psychology of eyewitness testimony. You will get the chance to test your own cognitive skills and to see whether your powers of investigation are as good as a crack squad of police officers, as you try to solve a crime using nothing but evidence from eyewitnesses.

Please note that this course deals with the investigation of serious crimes, including hearing from a victim of rape, and you should give careful consideration to how these sensitive issues might affect you personally.


This course is intended for those with an interest in psychology and/or criminal investigation, and does not require any previous experience of studying either subject.

Current Start learning

Course Code: FPSY_1
Available: 13 October 2015
Duration: 8 weeks,3 hours
Type: Micro course
Assessments: 2 hours

Credentialing: Non-formal recognition
Course Credit: Non accredited
Additional Courses:
Credential: Statement of participation

Course image @The Open University 2015

The Open University is proud to make this course freely available under a Creative Commons licence. Unless otherwise stated or third-party materials which are used with permission, so are not subject to the Creative Commons licence, or ours to give away. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of the course.