Offender Profiling - 2017

This unit contains mature content including Adult Themes, Nudity, Sex / Sexual References and Violence and may not be suitable for some students.
Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 2
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: SP1 , SP3
  • Availability for 2018: SP1 , SP3
  • Assessment: Assignment 1 - Summarize article (20%) , Assignment 2 - Constructing a Profile (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

Designed as an introduction to profiling, the unit exposes students to the key approaches and processes in the field, drawing on the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, criminology, geography, and forensic science. There is a strong focus on the higher order thinking skills of critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Offender profiling is broadly defined to include the collection of practices in which evidence, usually from the crime scene, victims, and/or witnesses, is used to infer characteristics about the perpetrator. If accurate, this information is useful in informing investigative strategies by reducing the suspect pool, and interrogation strategies by providing some psychological insight into the suspect. Offender profiling is a multidisciplinary endeavour, with law enforcement, behavioural scientists, social scientists and forensic scientists all involved in its evolution.

*** WARNING***  This unit contains extremely graphic descriptions and photographic evidence of victims of serial and ritualistic killers.  The material will be disturbing.  Students who are made uncomfortable by depictions of violence, sadism, torture and mutilation may have a difficult time in this unit and should consider taking a different elective.

After successfully completing this unit you should be able to:

  1. Knowledge of the evolution of profiling and an understanding of it as a multidisciplinary endeavour encompassing law enforcement, psychology, psychiatry, forensic science, and geography.
  2. Critical analysis and evaluation of the main approaches to profiling including; criminal investigative analysis, investigative psychology, diagnostic evaluations, crime action profiling, geographic profiling, and behavioural evidence analysis.
  3. Knowledge, understanding, and practical application of profiling processes including; crime reconstruction, identifying modus operandi and signature, linkage analysis, victimology, and inferring offender characteristics.
  4. Synthesis of profiling approaches and processes to construct a profile, and critically evaluate its accuracy and utility.
  5. Critical analysis and evaluation of the accuracy of offender profiling; and an understanding of the ethical implications of prediction.
  6. Knowledge of new or potential applications of offender profiling including terrorism and expert evidence.
  • Assignment 1 — Summarize article (20%)
  • Assignment 2 — Constructing a Profile (40%)
  • Invigilated Exam (40%)
For more information on invigilated exams see Exams and results

This is not an introductory unit. You should complete a number of other first year units.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Offender Profiling: An Overview and Its Evolution
2Law Enforcement: Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA)
3Forensic Science: Behavioral Evidence Analysis (BEA)
4Academic Psychology: Investigative Psychology (IP)
5Clinical Psychology: Crime Action Profiling (CAP)
6Clinical Approaches: Diagnostic Evaluations (DE)
7Crime Reconstruction
8Modus Operandi (MO), Signature, and Linkage Analysis
10Offender Characteristics and Content
11Geographic Profiling (GP)
12Accuracy and Ethics; The Future of Profiling

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture

Online materials

  • Printable format materials
  • Resources and Links

This unit is part of a major, minor, stream or specialisation in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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