UCC Adult courses

Psychology of Criminal Behaviour - Dip

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Psychology of Criminal Behaviour

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    2 years

  • Teaching Mode

    Part-Time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.

  • Qualifications


  • NFQ Level

    Level 7

  • Fees

    €2,100 per academic year See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    Must complete a detailed application and/or interview. See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date


  • Next Intake

    September 2024

  • Venue


  • Start Date

    September 2024

Course Outline

Psychopaths, serial killers, stalkers, rapists, paedophiles . . . the fascinating world of forensic psychology! If you have a burning interest in these topics, then The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour Diploma is the course for you. Designed to provide a flexible part-time third-level learning opportunity, this course is suitable for anyone with a desire to learn about the workings of the criminal mind, what motivates an individual to commit crimes, and how investigators collect psychological clues. The Diploma will provide you with a comprehensive insight into criminal behaviour and the criminal mind. You will develop your understanding of the major theories that seek to explain criminal behaviour especially in relation to violent and sexual crimes. Students who complete the course will appreciate the interface between the fields of law and psychology and in doing so enhance the recognition of forensic psychology as a distinct specialism of psychology.

Delivered by a host of academics and professionals in the fields of forensic psychology and criminal justice, the Psychology of Criminal Behaviour Diploma comprises eight modules completed over two years.

Course Queries

For Academic Queries and Course Content Queries please contact the Programme Coordinator Dr. Ciara Staunton at c.staunton@ucc.ie.

For Online Application Support please click here. 

If you require further assistance with your online application please contact the Programme Administrator Noreen Power at n.power@ucc.ie

Additional Teaching Mode Information

This course takes place one weekend per month between October to September.

Pre Covid times, lectures took place on the main UCC campus one weekend per month (Friday nights from 7-10pm and Saturday from 10- 5pm with a tutorial on the Friday before the scheduled lecture from 6-7pm) during the University Semesters (Semester 1: September - December Semester 2: January - April).

During the Covid pandemic, the course was delivered wholly online with live lectures mostly consistent with the timetable above.

For the 22/23 academic year, we are endeavouring to make this course more hybrid in its approach with a mixture of pre-recorded material in lieu of the Friday night sessions which you can watch at your leisure, while retaining some shortened live Saturday sessions with guest lectures.

Course Practicalities


Through a variety of interesting and engaging assessments, you will develop competencies around the skills of academic reading, writing and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Assignments include book reviews, essays, reflective practices, group projects and an individual project in year 2.

Who teaches this course

The lecturers who contribute to the Diploma are experts in their fields with PhDs and/or significant experience in various organisations associated with the criminal justice system.


Why Choose This Course

I was amazed at the content of all of the lectures and how valuable they were. The support from ACE and the lecturers right throughout the course was also exceptional."



Find Out More Find Out More

The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour is the only course of its kind in the Republic of Ireland offered at NFQ Level 7. It is also the only diploma in the field of forensic psychology that offers a unique part-time flexible option allowing you to combine work with study. Previous students include members of An Garda Síochána, juvenile liaison officers, community Gardaí, outreach workers, solicitors, counsellors, addiction counsellors, law clerks, students of psychology, prison officers, probation officers, youth workers, teachers, and numerous individuals who are simply fascinated with the study of the criminal mind.

Skills and Careers Information

Previous students of the Diploma have successfully gained entry to a number of other courses including degrees in psychology and law as well as postgraduate courses such as MAs in criminology. The progression routes open to you depend on your individual background. Other students of the course have gained employment with various voluntary and community agencies. Members of An Garda Síochána and students from other professions who completed the course have found that implementing what they have learned on the course is tremendously beneficial to their line of work.


  • Being at least 21 years of age by 1 January of the year of application 
  • A detailed application form prior to the closing date which will request applicants to present a 500 word statement indicating their reasons for applying for the course
  • Applicants may be invited for an interview
  • English Language Requirement: All applicants whose first language is not English must have attained IELTS Level 6 or the equivalent TOEFL score.

Diploma programmes are offered subject to a minimum number of eligible applicants registering for the programme. Following completion of year 1 of this programme, should a sufficient number of eligible students not wish to progress form year 1 to year 2 of this programme as to make the year 2 viable, students will graduate with a certificate at that point.  Programme viability is determined by reference to fee income and applicable costs in running the programme.

Students who have successfully completed modules to the value of 30 credits in Year 1 may opt to exit the programme with a Certificate in Psychology of Criminal Behaviour (NFQ Level 7, Special Purpose award).

Fees and Costs

€2,100 per academic year

For further information on fees and financial supports please click here

How Do I Apply

Applicants need to be aware of the IT student checklist below before applying:

  • You will need access to a laptop or desktop computer running a modern supported operating system with all software updates.
  • Some of UCC’s services (e.g. the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment) link to an external site and also have mobile apps for iOS and Android Devices that you may wish to use as part of your studies.  However, we recommend using your desktop web browser for submission of assessments.
  • You should always use the most current version of your preferred browser. In general, we recommend the Chrome Web browser (Important Note: Internet Explorer will not work with Canvas).
  • We recommend a reliable broadband connection with at least 2Mbps or more.
  • You will require an Office suite of software (Microsoft Office or equivalent) and a PDF reader. You should always use the latest version of this software.  All UCC students will have access to Office 365 which includes software such as Word/Excel/Powerpoint etc. once registered.

To Apply for this course please follow the steps below:

When you log into the Application Portal:

Click Apply Online

Select Start a new Adult & Continuing Education Application 

On the 2nd tab Academic Level 
Select the following options:
Academic Level: Adult Continuing Education (ACE at UCC)
Course Type:  ACE Part-time Courses
Academic Programme: The course title you are applying for.

During your online application you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Birth Cert or Passport
  • Passport Photograph 
  • English Language Test Report [if applicable]
  • 50% of the fees are also required to complete your application. 

Year 1 Modules

  • AP1838: Introduction to Forensic Psychology and Criminal Behaviour (5 credits)
    This module will provide students with an overview of the development of forensic and criminal psychology. Topics covered will include:
    Historical development and contemporary issues;
    Theories of criminal behaviour;
    Social explanations of crime;
    The extent of violent crime;
    The causes of violent crime;
    Offender typologies;
    The applications of psychology to the criminal justice system;
    The role of a forensic psychologist in a prison setting;
    Terrorism and political violence.
  • AP1839: Young Offenders (5 credits)
    This module will provide students with an overview of the multitude of factors in childhood that may lead someone to engage in antisocial behaviour and the social factors that may help prevent it. Topics will include:
    Criminogenic factors in childhood;
    Specific explanations of antisocial behaviour in childhood;
    Drug and alcohol addiction;
    Lifespan development and criminal careers;
    Restorative justice practices;
    Imprisoned adolescents;
    Problems with self-regulation;
    Depression among young people.
  • AP1840: Risk Assessment and Management (5 credits)
    This module is devoted to the study of psychological assessment of risk to self or others. Topics will include:
    Extreme acts of violence;
    Assessment of offending behaviour (violence);
    Links between personality and offending;
    Anger and anger management;
    Risk appraisal and management;
    Violent risk assessment in a prison setting;
    Management and Treatment Strategies in the community;
    Management and Treatment Strategies in the prison setting;
    Risk assessment tools: psychological and physiological.
  • AP1841: Mental Health and Crime (15 credits)
    This module will introduce students to the study of mental illness and its correlates with criminal behaviour. Topics covered will include:
    The concept of 'insanity';
    The problem of evidence;
    Competency issues;
    The classification of mental illness: DSM;
    Mental illness and violence;
    Personality disorders (PDs);
    Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD);
    Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD);
    Students will complete a psychological assessment in class from which data is generated and results obtained so that it can be written up in a report style. This assignment is consistent with the standards expected of an academic paper for publication. The report must consist of the following sections: Title; Abstract; Introduction; Literature Review; Method Section; Results; Discussion; References.

Year 2 Modules

  • AP2822: Sexual Offenders (5 credits)
    This module will provide an overview of the aetiology, assessment and treatment of sexually motivated offenders. Topics will include:
    Theories of sexual offending;
    Child Sex Abuse and Paedophilia;
    Rape and Sexual Assault;
    Sex Offender Treatment Programmes;
    Female sex offenders;
    Adolescent sex offenders;
    The role of the internet;
    Victims of sexual abuse;
    Assessment and treatment of sex offenders.
  • AP2823: Policing and Investigative Psychology (5 credits)
    This topic will consider all of the ways that psychology can be used or integrated with the processes and procedures of criminal investigation. Topics covered will include:
    The development of policy psychology;
    The origins of investigative psychology;
    Criminal profiling - the facts and the myths, its theoretical models and validity;
    Crime scene analysis;
    Interviewing suspects;
    The psychology of mass murderers and serial killers;
    The psychology of arming police;
    Hostage negotiations;
  • AP2824: Psychology of the Courtroom (5 credits)
    This module will provide an overview of the role of psychology in the courtroom and psychologists as expert witnesses. Topics covered will include:
    The role of the expert witness;
    Principles of criminal law, Sentencing policy and practice; Irish and UK legislation;
    Mental, personality and intellectual problems in court;
    Eyewitness testimony and memory;
    Children as witnesses;
    Jury selection;
    Jury decision-making processes;
    Ehical issues;
    Psychological services available to offenders and staff in prisons.
  • AP2825: Criminal/Forensic Psychology Project (15 credits)
    This module will provide students with the skills required to present an effective empirical analysis in a specific area of Forensic Psychology. This will also enable students to develop and present a thesis based on contemporary bibliographical sources.

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact