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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Law & Neuroscience
Module Code PSYC406
School 37
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Lorraine Boran
Semester 2: Lorraine Boran
Autumn: Lorraine Boran
Module TeachersLorraine Boran
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

The aims of this module are to provide an overview of the neuroscience of criminal responsibility and liability; and to consider the neuropsychological bases of offending behaviour, recidivism and rehabilitation. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of neuroscientific evidence in the courtroom, and applications of neuropsychology to juror, judge and offender decision making.

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe and evaluate mental and behavioural aspects of criminal responsibility
2. Evaluate the neuroscience of criminal responsibility
3. Critically consider the neuroscience of offending behaviour, recidivism and rehabilitation
4. Identify and evaluate the role of neuroscientific evidence in the courtroom
5. Evaluate the neuropsychology of Judge and juror decision making

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture20Lecture Material based on indicative content; Asynchronous format; Active listening and engagement with lecture material.
Seminars4Synchronous Seminars based on assessment preparation material
Online activity5Loop Discussion Fora
Independent Study96Independent study lecture review, seminar and assessment preparation; including seminar readings and legal cases.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Introduction to Criminal Law

Criminal Liability, Actus Reus, Mens Rea

Offences against the person

General Defences

Criminal behaviour and responsibility

Mental illness and the insanity defence

Competency and ability to stand trial

Prediction of offending behaviour

Behavioural Genetics and Crime

Neuroscience of psychopathology and crime
Applications within the courtroom e.g. offender, juror, judge

Neuropsychology of decision making and moral reasoning

Neuroscience in the Courtroom: role of evidence

Neuropsychology of juror behaviour: empathy and punishment

The neuropsychological bases of recidivism and rehabilitation

Neuroscience and Law making

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Oral ExaminationStudents are given a report of a hypothetical legal case about a fictitious young adult defendant who is neurodiverse, and who has been charged with murder. The case presents details of the criminal offence, relevant neuroscience evidence related to the defendant and that goes to elements of the criminal offence i.e. capacity to stand trial, and criminal liability. Summary of case relevant details and liability issues with respect of a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and offending behaviour, including Legal Insanity; Guilt determination and sentencing; Impact of judge/juror perception of a neurodiverse defendant on decision; Neuroprediction - prediction of future offending60%n/a
Report(s)A companion written report will follow the interactive oral, and will address issues of criminal responsibility from a number of perspectives, including: The adolescent Brain and Criminal Responsibility The Neurodiverse Brain and the Criminal Justice System Sleep Disturbance, Mental Health, Addiction and the Criminal Justice System Additionally, the student will consider case outcomes from the evidence produced, including expert and witness testimony. Pre-trial interviewing of the suspect and trial impacts will also be considered.40%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Jones, Owen: 2014, Law and Neuroscience, Aspen Pub., 978-145484824
  • edited by Stephen J. Morse and Adina L. Roskies.: 2013, A primer on criminal law and neuroscience, Oxford [Oxfordshire]; Oxford University Press, 0199859175
  • Beaumont, J.G,: 2008, Introduction to neuropsychology, 2nd, The Guildford Press, London,
  • Eagleman, D.: 2011, Incognito: The secret lives of the brain, Canongate Books Ltd., Edinburgh,
  • Freeman, M.: 2011, Law and neuroscience: Current legal issues, 13, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • Carlson, N.R.: 2010, Physiology of behavior, 10th, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.,
  • Freeman, M., Goodenough, O.R.: 2009, Law, mind and brain, Ashgate Publishing, London,
  • Fruehwald, E.S.: 2011, Law and human behavior: A study in behavioral biology, neuroscience and the law, Vandeplas Publishing, Florida, US,
  • Garland, B.: 2004, Neuroscience and the law: Brain, mind and the scales of justice, 2nd, Chicago University Press, Chicago,
  • Glazebrook, P.: 2011, Blackstone's statutes on criminal law 2011-2012, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • Gordana, J.: 2012, NNeurotechnology: Premises, Potential and Problems., Taylor and Francis, USA.,
  • Hanly, C: 2006, Irish criminal law, 2nd, Gill & McMillan, Dublin,
  • Kalat, J.W.: 2009, Biological psychology, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA,
  • Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I.Q.: 2008, Fundamentals of human neuropsychology, 6th, Worth Publishers, New York,
  • Malatesti, L., & McMillan, J.: 2010, Responsibility and psychopathy: Interfacing law, psychiatry and philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • Moratti, S & Patterson, D.. (edited by): 2016, Legal Insanity and the Brain: Science, Law and European Courts, Oxford and Portland, Oregon.,
  • Ormerod, D.: 2011, Smith and Hogan's criminal law, 13th, Oxford university Press, Oxford,
  • McAuley, F., & McCutcheon, P.: 2000, Criminal liability, Round Hall Ltd., London,
  • Morse, S.J., Roskies A.L: 2013, A primer on criminal law and neuroscience, 1, Oxford University Press, New York, 9780199859177
  • Nadel, L. (Editor), Sinnott-Armstrong, W.P. (Editor): 2012, Memory and Law, Oxford University Press, New York, 9780199920754
  • Naderhoffer, T.A. (edited by): 2013, The Future of Punishment., Oxford University Press, USA.,
  • Patterson, D. & Pardo, MS.: 2016, Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience., Oxford University Press, UK.,
  • Pinel, J.P.: 2011, Biopsychology, 6th, Pearson Education, Boston, MA,
  • Purser, K.: 2017, Capacity Assessment and the Law., Springer International.,
  • Sinnott-Armstrong & Nadel L. (edited by): 2011, Conscious Will and Responsibility:A Tribute to Benjamin Libet., Oxford University Press, UK.,
  • Spranger, T.M. (edited by): 2012, International Neurolaw: A Comparative Analysis., Springer Verlag, Berlin.,
  • Vincent, N.A.: 2013, Neuroscience and legal responsibility, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • Zeki, S.: 2006, Law and the brain, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  • Zilmer, E.A., Spiers, M.V. & Culbertson, W.: 2007, Principles of neuropsychology, 2nd, Wadsworth Publishing, Belmont, CA,
  • Connors, B.W., Paradiso, M.A., & Bear, M.F.: 2006, Neuroscience: Exploring the brain, 3rd, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD,
  • Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J., & Jessell, T.: 2000, Principles of neural science, 4th, McGraw-Hill, London,
  • Stein, J.F.: 2006, Neuroscience: An introduction, 1st, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford,
  • Squire, L.R., Berg, D., Bloom, F., du Lac, S, & Ghosh, A.: 2008, Fundamental neuroscience, 3rd, Academic Press, San Diego, CA,
  • Uttal, W.R.: 2008, Neuroscience in the courtroom: What every lawyer should know about the mind and the brain, Lawyers & Judges Publishing, Tucson, AZ,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
BPYBSc (Honours) in Psychology

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