• The Open University

Investigating a Murder with Forensic Psychology

Experience what it’s like to be a detective in a murder investigation as you learn how psychology can help crack the case.

8,970 enrolled on this course

A close up of a type writer with the word 'Investigation' in type font in the middle of the paper.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore applied psychology in the context of a criminal case

Psychology plays an important role in police enquiries. It can help build rapport, plan interviews, detect deception, and understand cognitive bias.

On this four-week course, you’ll explore the way suspects are dealt with during a police investigation and how psychology can help the police with their enquiries.

This immersive and engaging short course will showcase applied psychology in a highly interesting context.

Take on the role of detective to investigate a murder

You’ll become a detective investigating a murder as you join two fictional detectives working alongside a senior investigating officer.

This complex criminal case has been carefully written to be realistic by a team of academic and policing practitioner experts.

Understand the psychological skills of building rapport and identifying cognitive bias

You’ll delve into the psychological skills that can help police in an investigation. You’ll learn how to spot a liar, how to establish rapport, the impact of cognitive bias, and how to plan an interview.

This will also include investigating falses confessions and developing and assessing an interview plan.

Learn from the experts at The Open University

This interactive course has been created by the experts at The Open University’s Centre for Policing Research and Learning, and Forensic Cognition Research Group.

You’ll learn from the specialists with a well-established network of policing practitioners.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Introduction to the case

  • Witness interviews.
  • Psychological theories and research on detecting deception.

Week 2: Suspect interviews and establishing rapport

  • Psychology behind police suspect interviews.
  • Examples of difficult conversations.
  • Rapport and respectful communication.

Week 3: Confessions

  • Impact and dangers of interviewing techniques.
  • Prioritising lines of enquiry.

Week 4: Conclusion to the case

  • Evidence and truthfulness in interviews.
  • Closing the case.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Synthesise and apply psychological knowledge regarding detecting deception
  • Develop and assess an interview plan
  • Apply a psychological model of rapport to suspect interviews
  • Investigate false confessions
  • Identify potential forms of cognitive bias in investigations
  • Apply psychological research to a simulated case study

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in policing careers, psychology, or the law.

It may also be beneficial for those interested in writing crime fiction.

Who will you learn with?

Zoë is a psychologist with an interest in how psychology relates to police investigations. She is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology and Counselling at the Open University

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?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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