Course Outline

SEC708 Psychology of Cybercrime

Course Coordinator:Dennis Desmond ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2021Semester 1


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


In this online course you will be introduced to the theories that explain how scammers, identity thieves and cybercriminals achieve their deception. You will also develop your knowledge of human behaviours, cognitive influences, and the psychosomatic impacts for victims of these crimes. Learn how to build prevention and awareness frameworks and campaigns, including underpinning performance measures which address consumer, institutional and broader response system requirements. You will also examine deceptive conduct and its behavioural levers and dependencies.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Online 2hrs Week 1 13 times

Course Topics

  1. Cyberpsychology
  2. History of cybercrime and scams.
  3. Online scams – definition and types.
  4. Economics of cybercrime
  5. Summary of the most revalent and costly cybercrime scams
  6. Modern scams and the broader history of deception?
  7. Criminological theories to understand cybercrime-related deviance
  8. The impact of anonymising technologies and the online environment on human behaviours
  9. Scammers’ methodologies
  10. Victim Psychology
  11. Common causes of identity theft and the risks it presents to individuals and organisations
  12. How identity theft is enabled, prevented, detected and responded to by organisations in different sectors
  13. The role of government and particularly law enforcement in the cybercrime and identity theft response landscape
  14. The responsibilities of organisations impacted by identity fraud and identity theft
  15. Changes to improve Australia’s resilience to identity fraud and to improve organisations’ responses
  16. Immediate and ongoing financial impacts of identity compromise and identity theft
  17. Immediate and ongoing emotional and psychological impacts?
  18. The typical response journey for a victim of identity compromise or identity theft
  19. Individuals’ experiences when seeking assistance from organisations such as financial institutions and law enforcement
  20. Organisational support to improve their engagements with victims of identity compromise and identity theft, and where can they look to improve
  21. Scam methodologies
  22. Prevention and awareness strategies, including public awareness campaigns.
  23. How theories from criminology can assist our understanding of cybercrime prevention and awareness.
  24. How to effect behavioural change among online users.
  25. The measures organisations and service providers can take to minimise victimisation.
  26. How legal measures can reduce victimisation.
  27. Cyber bulliying
  28. Cyber stalking
  29. The role of the Internet in facilitating radicalisation.
  30. Overt and covert uses of the Internet by extremist and terrorist organisations.
  31. Radicalisation mechanisms.
  32. Group identity and psychology

What level is this course?

700 Level (Specialised)

Demonstrating a specialised body of knowledge and set of skills for professional practice or further learning. Advanced application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Critique key components and processes involved in historical through to contemporary forms of cybercrime offending. Creative and critical thinker
2 Apply behavioural and criminological frameworks that explain cybercrime offending. Empowered
3 Identify attributes of cybercrime victimisation and the response system. Knowledgeable
4 Use analytical skills to construct cybercrime profiles, prevention and awareness models. Empowered
5 Explain key ethical and practice challenges associated with cybercrime prevention and response from a multi-stakeholder perspective. Ethical

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Using marking rubrics, students will participate in continuous peer and self-assessment tasks. You will receive weekly formative feedback in tutorials from week 3 to assist with developing your assessment skills and completing assessment tasks. Tutorial review questions will be uploaded weekly and the accommodation of online chat forums will assist in developing peer-led learning experiences. 

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Oral and Written Piece Group 20%
10 minutes per presentation per week plus feedback
Week 4 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 2 Activity Participation Individual 30%
2000 words
Week 9 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3a Practical / Laboratory Skills Group 10%
2 hours
Refer to Format In Class
All 3b Report Individual 40%
3000 words
Week 13 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Case Study Development
The goal of this assessment is to provide opportunities for you to work in a group of between two and four students to learn and apply behavioural and criminological frameworks to a real-life case.
Product: Oral and Written Piece
Students are required to present online to their peers within their tutorial using visual aids accessible to their audience. They will support the presentation with a written report on the case for submission by Friday of Week 4. Groups will be formed, and case studies assigned, in your Week 2 tutorial. Working in tutorials and in an online wiki, each group will develop their presentation through a synthesis of their case and the application of relevant theoretical frameworks that assist to determine the motivation of offending, the impact of offending from a multi-stakeholder perspective, anticipated intervention responses, and consequences. Students must submit an assignment of no more than 1,500 words. In tutorial during weeks 3 to 4; Final report submission due Friday, Week 4.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Critique of components and processes
Application of frameworks
Identification of cybercrime attributes
Analysis cybercrime profiles and models
Assessment criteria are mapped to the course learning outcomes.
1 2 3 4 5
All - Assessment Task 2:Written Behavioural Profile
The goal of this assessment task is to allow you to synthesise and apply your knowledge and skills developed through assessment 1 to construct a written case profile report on a selected case study. In your report, you will be required to demonstrate your ability to research, analyse and discuss the key processes undertaken
Product: Activity Participation
This task will require you to use basic assessment and case formulation skills to write a formal cybercrime behavioural profile report on an assigned case study. You are required to draw on literature to support your methods and formulation
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Critique of components and processes
Development of behavioural profile
Identification of cybercrime victimisation and response
Explanation of ethical practice and challenges
Communication skills
All - Assessment Task 3a:Lab Experiment Plan, Design and Execution
The purpose of this assessment task is to plan, develop and test a phishing simulation for a workplace. Students are required to document their planned approached, performance metrics, and anticipated responses. In groups of between four and six students, teams are to perform the simulation on themselves using a course provided software simulation and capture results.
Product: Practical / Laboratory Skills
This task will take the form of an in-class experiment where students design their own phishing detection tests and carry these out in their assessment groups (the test audience).

Due: weeks 11 and 12.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Development of cybercrime phishing
Analysis of victim responses
Explanation of ethical practice and challenges
Critique of components of contemporary forms of cybercrime
Communication skills
All - Assessment Task 3b:Report
The purpose of this assessment is to provide an individual report on the undertaking of the phishing experiment and considerations for improving phishing prevention and awareness in the simulated environment (the workplace).
Product: Report
The Report shall be no more than 3000 words and be targeted at an executive audience interested in building the resilience to phishing-born cyber attacks in the workplace. 
Suggested report outlines will be covered in class and will include an Executive Summary and any relevant appendices as part of the word count limit
No. Learning Outcome assessed
The appropriateness of its content for an Executive (C-suite) audience
The experimental design, its reasoning, delivery and lessons observed
The synthesis of the results and its applicability to the organisations environment (people, processes and technology).
Consideration of the ethical challenges
Applicability of prevention and awareness strategies and how they relate to your knowledge of relevant theoretical frameworks
The quality and appropriateness of the recommendations made for the organisation in building cyber resilience and a security culture

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Kirwan, G. and Power, A 2013 Cybercrime: The Psychology of Online Offenders n/a Cambridge University Press

Specific requirements

This is an online course and will require access to a computer and the internet for at least 12 hours per week

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

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