Unit description

Addresses fundamental issues where the practice of the mental health profession intersects with the criminal, civil and coronial law of Australia. Students explore the mental health-law interface within the context of the adversary system as it functions currently within Australian courts. The role of experts in the contemporary legal system and how the courts have grappled with the evolving contribution made by forensic psychiatrists and psychologists is evaluated as well as major controversies surrounding criteria for the detention of the mentally ill, particularly examining the jurisprudence of civil commitment as it has evolved.

Unit content

1.Historical overview of forensic psychiatry and psychology; 
2.Analysis of expert witness immunity and the regulation of mental health professionals; 
3.An introduction to DSM-IV and ICD-10; 
4.Reflection on the limits of mental health evidence by reference to the A-G v Fairfax decision; 
5.Psychiatry and psychology in the investigation of crime: 
6.Criminal profiling; 
8.Eyewitness assessment. 
9.Fitness to stand trial 
10.The psychiatrist and psychologist as expert witnesses The exclusionary rules of expert evidence; Syndrome evidence Criminal profiling evidence Expert evidence about dangerousness 
11.Psychiatric injury under civil law and crimes compensation law 
12.The jurisprudence of civil commitment

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

Learning outcomes and graduate attributes

Teaching and assessment


Intensive offerings may or may not be scheduled in every session. Please refer to the timetable for further details.

Southern Cross University employs different teaching methods within units to provide students with the flexibility to choose the mode of learning that best suits them. SCU academics strive to use the latest approaches and, as a result, the learning modes and materials may change. The most current information regarding a unit will be provided to enrolled students at the beginning of the study session.

Fee information


Commonwealth Supported courses
For information regarding Student Contribution Amounts please visit the Student Contribution Amounts.
Commencing 2015 Commonwealth Supported only. Student contribution band: 3

Fee paying courses
For POSTGRADUATE or UNDERGRADUATE full fee paying courses please check Domestic Postgraduate Fees OR Domestic Undergraduate Fees


Please check the international course and fee list to determine the relevant fees.