Forensic Psychology Syllabus

Forensic Psychology

Dr. Travis Langley  McBrien Hall 301-F

Required Textbook:
Criminal Behavior: A Psychosocial Approach by Bartol.

UNIT 1                                    TEST: September 15
Chapters 1, 2, 4.

UNIT 2                                    TEST: October 6
Chapters 3, 5-7.

UNIT 3                                    TEST: November 3
Chapters 8-11.

UNIT 4                                    TEST: December 1
Chapters 12-15.

Cumulative plus chapter 16. Refer to fall schedule for date.


Each test will consist of 40 multiple choice items — covering lecture notes, assigned readings, and class discussion. Bring number 2 pencils for every test. If you have trouble erasing completely, bring Liquid Paper to cover your erasures or just ask the professor for a clean answer sheet. Any answer marked wrong due to an incomplete erasure is simply wrong.

There will be NO makeup tests. As long as you do not miss any quizzes or tests, your lowest test score will be dropped. If you miss a test, it will be the score that gets dropped. The final will weigh the same as any other test in figuring your grade, and it can be the grade that gets dropped.


Test questions range in difficulty to provide a very accurate idea as to how much of the course material you know and understand. I do not feel it is right to establish a curve based on the highest grade in the class, in which case only one score would determine everyone’s grade. The scale on the tests will be as follows:

A 35.1 –>        B 30.1 – 35      C 25.1 – 30      D 20.1 – 25      F <– 20

The professor reserves the right to subtract any number of points from the grade of someone who disrupts class, or to assign a course grade of F to cheaters. If you walk into class late, take a seat in the back near the door instead of walking through the class and being a distraction. The professor is completely serious about flunking people who cheat and referring them for University disciplinary measures.

Overall grade will consist of five portions: the four tests that are not dropped plus group presentation grade. Keep track of your own grades for each test. If you want to keep up with your grades, write down the numerical scores along the way. If you are not in class when a test is returned graded, you can learn the score on that test when the next test is returned graded.

Writing Across the Curriculum: The last question on every multiple-choice test will be some version of “Since the previous test, what have you learned from the current course material that was not otherwise covered by this exam?” Write your answers in coherent sentences. In general, each distinct fact you provide will be worth half a point, up to the normal maximum of 3, so to earn full credit provide 6-8 distinct facts. Writing more could earn a little extra credit, up to an absolute maximum of 4, which would almost always bring your score up a full letter grade. Bad answer, not worth any credit: “We talked about status offenses, but you didn’t ask about them.” Good answer: “A status offense is a crime that would not normally be a crime, except that it is not legal due to the age of the person doing it, such as truancy, underage drinking, or running away from home.” Rather than just stating which topic was not covered by the test, tell what you learned about the topic.


The #1 correlate with poor grades in any class is poor attendance. Poor attendance, therefore, punishes itself. The professor doesn’t normally drop people based on attendance, but he will drop anyone who misses both the first two tests or with a pattern of profound absenteeism. If you miss class, please do not tell the professor why. If you’re not here when we take roll, you’re not here. Class participation will be more likely to help your grade than signing a roll sheet.


If your phone rings or vibrates loudly enough for your professor to hear it during class, every ring is a classroom disruption and can cost you points. If it rings once, make sure it does not ring a second time. Do not text during class because that is distracting to others. If you need to be on your phone that badly, then you need to be somewhere else. Each time your phone is in sight (yours or mine) during class, you lose a point from your best test grade.

Your phone and other electronic devices must be OFF and OUT OF SIGHT during tests. You are responsible for making sure you cannot even see your phone during the test. If your phone is visible, that will be treated as cheating because too many students use their phones to cheat. I do not have to confirm what was on your phone. (Also, do not wear hats during tests. If I have to remind you of this on test day, you lose a point.)

Don’t use computers to take classroom notes. Sorry, but too many professors have run into problems with people distracting other students by sitting there surfing the Internet. 


In groups of three or four, you will all make presentations before the class at some point during the term. Under no circumstances may a group start out as small as two or as large as six; five is almost certainly too many. Those who make their presentations earliest will be graded slightly more leniently. Grades for the presentations will be based on the quality of presentations, educational value, and amount of work reflected. Each presentation will be worth 40 points, the same as a test. No, it can’t be dropped.

Not all group members will have to get up and talk, as long as everyone in the group feels all have pulled their weight. A group grade will be assigned, with adjustments for individual quality of presentation. For this presentation, your group is teaching class. If you want at least a B, a group of 4 is responsible for 30 minutes; group of 5, 40 minutes. If you’re showing a video as part of a presentation, it should not take up more than a quarter of that time, unless perhaps you made the video yourself (for example, interviewing a gang member).

If you make your entire presentation as a video, it can be shorter than an in-class oral presentation. In that case, it should be at least 7 minutes along.
Examples of some past videos (good videos although you should include more psychology than they do):

Point value for presentations or YouTube videos:

A+ 40 B+ 35 C+ 30 D+ 25 E+ 20 F          10
A  38.3 B  33.3 C  28.3 D  23.3 E  18.3 0          0
A- 36.6 B- 31.6 C- 26.6 D- 21.6 E- 16.6

You may choose other topics that are not on this list as long as they are clearly relevant to this course. If you’re interested in a topic not on the list (see next page), check with the professor to make sure the topic is okay. No two groups may do the same topic or excessively similar topics.

EXAMPLES of group presentation or YouTube video topics:

antisocial personality
athletes doping (not just Lance)
attorney tricks and/or crooked lawyers
borderline personality
child abuse
child molestation
computer criminals
con artists
cult crimes
domestic violence
drug abuse
drug dealers
eyewitness memory
forensic linguistics
hate crimes
hostage negotiation
identity theft
insanity plea
jury behavior
jury selection
juvenile delinquency
lie detection
mass murderers
media influence on crime
movie accuracy
organized crime
police behavior
political crimes
prison psychology
rape victims
sexual harassment
war crimes
white collar crime
world’s dumbest criminals

Certain people who are important figures in the history of forensic psychology would be appropriate presentation/video topics as well:

    • Hugo Munsterberg: often called the father of forensic psychology.
    • William Moulton Marston: pioneer in lie detection; also created Wonder Woman.
    • Elizabeth Loftus: expert on eyewitness testimony and false memories.

Guest speaker: Anyone who lines up a guest speaker whom I deem worth the class’s time will receive an extra A figured into their average. Past speakers have included a CSI investigator, DEA agent, retired CIA officer, attorney for drunk drivers, state trooper, sheriff’s deputies (one of whom brought a prison inmate with him), and others. Similarly, arranging an appropriate field trip would net you an extra A. In the past, we have visited Malvern’s prison, the Hot Springs jail (which is scarier than the prison), juvenile jail, and juvenile court.

On days when we have guest speakers, do not walk in late. It’s more than rude. It’s disrespectful and distracts the guest. If you get there late and the speaker has already started, just wait outside the room until the speaker is done, however long that takes, and then join us for the rest of class.


The best way to contact your professor is via email at

If you do not normally use your email address, you MUST set it up to forward messages to you because if I have to email a message to the class, that’s where the system will send it. You are responsible for making certain you are set up to receive messages from your professor.

Students with disabilities:  Individuals who may need academic accommodation based on the impact of a documentable disability (e.g.: sensory, learning, psychological, medical, mobility) should contact the Disability Resource Center for assistance (first floor of Foster Hall, 870-230-5475).  For more information, visit the DRC website at

The schedule and other details in this syllabus may be subject to revision.

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