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Online course

Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation

Discover how psychology can help obtain evidence from eyewitnesses in police investigations and prevent miscarriages of justice.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation

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Why join the course?

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.

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.

You can use the hashtag #FLforensic17 to join and contribute to Twitter conversations about this course.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsThis course examines the psychology of eyewitnesses and its impact on police investigations-- revealing the limitations of the human mind and the dangers for criminal justice. Witnesses often only identify somebody about 40% of the time from a line up. Sometimes the suspect that's been identified isn't actually the culprit. The journey begins by exploring some serious miscarriages of justice. Featuring a real eyewitness whose testimony sent the wrong man to prison. I knew there had been misidentification-- I mean I knew that. It wasn't malicious intent, it wasn't racially motivated-- but it didn't matter, because the end result was Ronald Cotton spent a third of his life in prison for something he didn't do.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds The course also gives you a chance to follow two investigations of a fictitious crime. And use your cognitive and investigative skills to evaluate the evidence. The course was created by professor Graham Pike, who specialises in eyewitness identification, including E-Fit technology. There are new generation of facial composting systems that are beginning to be used by the police. Graham Pike was also behind a BBC Open University co-production, which is incorporated into the course, and which puts eyewitnesses to the test. By working solely from eyewitness accounts and positive identifications, how close to the truth have they got? Giving you the chance to use what you have learned to solve a crime and compare how you did against a team of real police officers.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds By completing the eight week course, you will have gained some basic knowledge about forensic psychology, gained insights into how your own mind works, and understood the vital role of psychology in police investigations.

What topics will you cover?

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Witness memory
  • Inattentional blindness and observation of criminal incidents
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Facial recognition
  • Visual identification

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

  • Investigate and 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
  • Explore and consider the relationship between limitations of the human brain and miscarriages of justice

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

Graham Pike

Graham is a psychologist & Professor of Forensic Cognition at the OU, with an interest in applied cognition, particularly how psychological knowledge can be used to obtain evidence from eyewitnesses

Who developed the course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For £49 you’ll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose take to a course for free.

A Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your Linkedin or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.