LSO802 - Criminal Psychology: Psychopaths & Serial Killers

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Last revision date Jan 28, 2020 11:32:07 AM
Last review date Mar 16, 2020 8:51:34 AM

Subject Title
Criminal Psychology: Psychopaths & Serial Killers

Subject Description
Are psychopaths born or made? This course provides students with an analysis of the development of both criminals in general and psychopaths and serial killers in particular. The biological, developmental, learning and situational factors that contribute to criminal antisocial behaviour will be explored in detail. Since there is sound research on psychopaths, a particular focus will be placed on psychopaths. The diagnosis of psychopathic personality, connections between psychopathic and normal personalities, neuroscience findings and research on emotion and thought processes in psychopaths will be examined. Case studies will be examined to bring the research to life.

Credit Status
One upper level Liberal Studies elective credit for Seneca degree students.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

  1. Identify the risk and protective factors in developmental pathways and the social risk factors implicated in the development of antisocial behaviour.
  2. Appraise the various theoretical perspectives on the causes of antisocial behaviour.
  3. Explain the biological or genetic elements that may predispose some people to commit violent or otherwise antisocial acts.
  4. Explain fundamental concepts in social psychology—e.g., positive and negative reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement, and punishment—that are relevant to the development, maintenance, and regulation of antisocial behaviour.
  5. Identify the major psychological perspectives on aggression and violence. 
  6. Compare the behavioural and neurobiological characteristics that differentiate the psychopath from the non-psychopath.
  7. Construct a plausible theory of psychopathic personality development that integrates elements of all known developmental factors.
  8. Identify mental health disorders that are correlated with criminal psychology.
  9. Differentiate among serial killers such as Jack the Ripper, Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, Bernardo, Gein, Desalvo, Berkowitz, etc. and other mass killers.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Academic Integrity
Seneca upholds a learning community that values academic integrity, honesty, fairness, trust, respect, responsibility and courage. These values enhance Seneca's commitment to deliver high-quality education and teaching excellence, while supporting a positive learning environment. Ensure that you are aware of Seneca's Academic Integrity Policy which can be found at: Review section 2 of the policy for details regarding approaches to supporting integrity. Section 2.3 and Appendix B of the policy describe various sanctions that can be applied, if there is suspected academic misconduct (e.g., contract cheating, cheating, falsification, impersonation or plagiarism).

Please visit the Academic Integrity website to understand and learn more about how to prepare and submit work so that it supports academic integrity, and to avoid academic misconduct.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Accessibility Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.