Criminal Justice (CRJS) 360

The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour (Revision 5)

CRJS 360

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None (prior course in psychology is recommended)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CRJS 360 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Criminal Justice 360: The Psychology of Criminal Behavior, is a three-credit course that is being offered online as a distance education course through Athabasca University. CRJS 360 The Psychology of Criminal behavior, is an undergraduate course designed to introduce students to the psychological variables that are believed to underpin criminal behavior. Students who work or intend to work in fields such as law enforcement, institutional or community corrections, and public or private security should find this course helpful in their work.

CRJS 360 is organized into four sections. The first section provides a contextual foundation for the course by reviewing crime trends in Canada and discussing relevant statistical issues. Section 2 of the course provides an overview of relevant theoretical models of crime. The third section of the course is more concrete in focus. Here students will be introduced to a variety of factors that have been empirically linked to both nonviolent and violent crime. Discussion of the latter will include non-lethal violence, homicide, and violence against family members. Finally, the course closes with a focus on special populations. This section of the course includes review of the varied needs of mentally ill offenders, female offenders, and aboriginal offenders. Psychopathic offenders are also discussed in this section.

Then textbook for this course was specifically selected for its Canadian focus. Canadian researchers are at the forefront of modern risk assessment practices and most existing risk metrics have Canadian origins. This focus on issues of risk assessment and management is reflected throughout your textbook. Key Canadian researchers are profiled in each chapter and additional readings are offered throughout the book so that interested students can learn more about Canadian contributions to forensic psychology.


There are 12 units divided into 4 parts:

Part 1: Introduction

  • Unit 1: Crime in Canada

Part 2: Theories of Crime

  • Unit 2: Biological and Evolutionary Theories of Crime
  • Unit 3: Learning and Environmental Theories of Crime
  • Unit 4: Linking Theories to Practice

Part 3: Violent and Nonviolent Offending

  • Unit 5: Economic Crime
  • Unit 6: Violent Offending in the Community
  • Unit 7: Violence in the Family Unit

Part 4: Special Populations

  • Unit 8: Juvenile Offenders
  • Unit 9: Sexual Offenders
  • Unit 10: Mentally Disordered Offenders
  • Unit 11: Female Offenders
  • Unit 12: Aboriginal Offenders


The final grade in CRJS 360 The Psychology of Criminal behavior will be based on the grades you achieve on two written assignments, and the final exam. Please note that the passing grade for the final exam is 50%. Also note that the final exam will be based on all course materials, including the commentaries in the study guide. To receive credit for CRJS 360 students must a) complete all assignments, b) obtain a grade of 50% or better on the final exam, and c) have an overall course grade of at least 50%. The following chart summarizes the assignments for credit, their weighting toward your final grade, and provides a timeline recommendation for submitting each assignment.

Assignment for Credit Weighting Assignment due
Assignment 1 30% of final grade Due after you have completed unit 7 of the course.
Assignment 2 30% of final grade Due after you have completed unit 12 of the course.
Final Exam 40% of final grade Following completion of the entire course.
Total 100%  

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators that can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

The course materials for Criminal Justice 360: Psychology of Criminal Behaviour are mostly found on the Moodle course site. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the various course components. The time you take to get acquainted with the materials will help you to begin your studies with confidence. If you have any problems or questions, contact your tutor for assistance.


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Serin, R. Forth, A. Brown, S, Nunes, K. Bennell, C, & Pozzulo, J. (2011). The Psychology of Criminal Behavior: A Canadian Perspective. Toronto: Pearson Canada

A print version of the eText can be purchased from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided in the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CRJS 360 challenge registration, you must complete and submit both online written assignments, achieve a grade of at least 50% on the examination, and have an overall grade of at least 50%.

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Exam Total
30% 30% 40% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 5, October 21, 2013.

View previous syllabus

Updated October 03 2016 by Student & Academic Services