Criminal Justice and Psychology

Explore the psychology of offending behaviour and how people interact with the criminal justice system.

In this major you’ll look at the big picture—and consider how socio-cultural, political, and economic factors influence the justice system.

Crime often makes headlines—whether it’s political parties using the latest crime statistics as campaign leverage, or a true crime podcast unearthing a new theory. But to make real progress, we need to understand what causes people to engage in criminal behaviour and how best to support change. When you study Criminal Justice and Psychology, you’ll learn to understand Aotearoa’s justice system, as well as the fundamentals of criminology, forensic psychology, and the development of antisocial behaviour.

Career options

If you’re interested in a career in the criminal justice system, this could be the major for you. You’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills to pursue a variety of careers—from working with people as a probation officer, through to research or policy roles within government or community organisations.

Learn from experts

The Criminal Justice and Psychology major is led by Dr Clare-Ann Fortune, whose research in clinical forensic psychology looks specifically at youth in the justice system.

“Interviewing justice-involved young people in residences and the community inspired me to pursue this area as a career. I wanted to better understand why young people engage in antisocial behaviour and how they experience the justice system,” says Dr Fortune. “We can’t make changes to the system without understanding what happens inside the system.”

In this major you’ll learn within a multidisciplinary framework. You’ll take courses across psychology, law, and criminology, and graduate with a detailed understanding of the psychological theories underpinning offending behaviour.

Studying Psychology

Find out more about studying Psychology at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Go to our Psychology page

Bachelor of Psychology

Find out more about our focused Psychology degree, the Bachelor of Psychology.

Go to the BPsyc page

Postgraduate study

This major provides a good basis if you are interested in studying towards our Master of Science in Forensic Psychology.