Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Forensic Assessment

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION The unit is intended to include a theoretical component enabling students to become familiar with issues pertaining to the practice of Forensic Assessments and report writing, as well as a more practical component wherein students will be introduced to the various forms of assessments utilised, their aims, interpretation and reporting of findings. Students will benefit from the direct experience of practicing the administration, interpreting and reporting findings via case-studies.

An important component of this unit will include a special focus on carrying out assessments and reporting findings for Court purposes within the role of Expert or Professional Witness and related issues. Special emphasis will be given to forensic interviewing and the assessment of malingering and deception This role carries specific responsibilities and demands and therefore serves as a sound basis for good professional practice not only for Court purposes but also in carrying out psychological assessments and report writing within other areas of the criminal justice system.

Study-unit Aims

The unit aims to:
• Equip students with knowledge about various issues pertaining to assessments in forensic settings in their preparation towards professional practice;
• Equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary in order to be in a position to make critical decisions in their use of assessments;
• Enable students to understand the implications of their contribution in presenting findings and of psychological opinion and be in a position to carry out this role professionally;
• Equip students with skills in selecting, administering, scoring, interpreting and reporting findings with particular attention to the various service recipients;
• Provide an opportunity for students to practice the knowledge and skills learnt;
• Enable students to understand the implications of assessment of offenders;
• Enable students to engage in forensic interviewing and identify malingering and deception.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge of the various issues specific to Forensic Assessments such as the different aims of Forensic Assessment, role of the psychologist in assessment, ethical issues;
- identity the differences between forensic assessments from other forms of psychological assessments;
- demonstrate knowledge of the different forms of assessments used in forensic settings, their aims and their uses;
- interpret assessment findings;
- demonstrate knowledge of the main formats for report writing for different purposes;
- demonstrate knowledge of what constitutes good and professional practice in forensic assessment.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- make critical decisions regarding the purpose of assessments, tools to use, how to interpret and report findings;
- satisfactorily administer the selected assessment, score, interpret and report the findings keeping in mind the clients’ needs, the service recipients’ needs and good professional practice;
- critically evaluate their own findings and interpret other psychologists’ reports;
- demonstrate competence in contributing from a psychological perspective towards the generation of information and towards the care of offenders;
- be able to conduct a forensic interview and assess malingering and deception.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main text
Ackerman, M & Kaufman, A (2010) Essentials of Forensic Psychological Assessment. USA: John Wiley and sons ltd.

Supplementary readings:
Andrews & Bonta (2010). The Psychology of Criminal Conduct (5th ed.) NJ: Matthew Bender.
Rogers (2012), Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception, USA: Guilford.
Nesca & Dalby (2013). Forensic Interviewing in Criminal Court Matters: A Guide for Clinicians, USA:Thomas.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Case Study (take home) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Chantal Avellino
Marilyn Clark (Co-ord.)
Roberta Farrugia Debono
Kevin Henwood
Roberta Holland
Jo Christine Scicluna

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.