Forensic Psychology Unit Interactive Events

Award-winning immersive murder mystery events bring forensic psychology research to life.

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Since 2016, Goldsmiths’ Forensic Psychology Unit (FPU) has hosted a series of ‘Whodunnit’ immersive theatre events to explore the intersection of psychological science and the criminal justice system.

Audiences have been transported back in time to witness groundbreaking research breakthroughs in a unique blend of the Arts and Sciences.

Established in 2015, the Forensic Psychology Unit has consistently pushed the boundaries of academic engagement, transforming complex research into accessible and entertaining experiences. Their innovative approach has captivated audiences beyond the field, while their research continues to contribute significantly to advancements in eyewitness identification and interviewing techniques.

In the Unit's inaugural event audiences were invited to solve The Death of Jane Doe in an evening of sleuthing and crime fighting. The ‘live’ investigation took place in Deptford Town Hall, where attendees worked as either trainee cops or investigative reporters to deduce the suspects and solve the gory murder. Research was employed in real-time by using deception to baffle audiences, testing and busting stereotypes around mentally disordered suspects.

Selling out within 48 hours, the event set the stage for a series of captivating productions that bridge the gap between academic research and public understanding. This event not only tested hypotheses and mini-experiments but also garnered widespread recognition, winning the CorpComms Magazine award for best communications by a public sector organisation.

The Death of Jane Doe

The following year the FPU curated a night of 50’s nostalgia, live music, and dancing to dramatise a high-profile crime in yet another sell-out event The Accused: The Psychology of Murder. Audiences were tasked with determining the fate of an unidentified defendant, based on the transcripts and court records of a renowned murder trial.

The immersive event brought to life the impact of psychological research on legal decision-making within the criminal justice system, in a twist where guests participated as jurors in the controversial case of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be sentenced to death in the UK.

yellow poster for the event with 'the accused' written in bright red across the top left hand corner

The innovative educational theatre experience received high praise and was commended by Goldsmiths annual Public Engagement Awards. One attendee was quoted saying they “would recommend any event put on by the Forensic Psychology Unit.”

Learn how the Forensic Psychology research group uses immersive theatre to improve experimental results.

In 2018, Top of the Cops: Murder on the Dancefloor transported attendees back to the 80s, to solve a murder through an evening of neon-nostalgia. The original and unforgettable experience combined cutting-edge research with immersive theatre to explore the impact of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 on investigations in the UK.

The audience took part in an eye-witness line-up, examined evidence, and observed two parallel suspect interviews using either 1980s or current techniques. This unique production explored where psychology and criminal justice intersect, helping the audience understand the role of psychology in influencing police procedure. The show received overwhelming acclaim, with organisers winning the Postgraduate Researcher category at Goldsmiths’ annual Public Engagement awards in 2019.

Following a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Forensic Psychology Unit returned in 2023 to take centre stage once again with its latest production NCPD Murder Investigation. The science-theatre extravaganza was based on evidence and key witnesses from a case in which a man was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years. Attendees were immersed in the 80’s crime scene and invited to step into the shoes of New Cross Police Department's Detective Squad, testing whether the audience would make the same mistakes as the original police force.

In yet another sell-out event attendees gathered to record evidence and interrogate witnesses played by Goldsmiths Theatre and Performance (TAP) students. The audience reported back on their analysis of the crime before receiving 21st Century scientific feedback on their sleuthing skills. As with previous productions, they were encouraged to dress as their favourite renegade cop, adding a touch of 80s flair to the evening.

The Forensic Psychology Unit, established in 2015, is a global leader in teaching, research, and consultancy on the relationship between psychological science and the criminal justice system. Their innovative approach brings academic research to life, engaging wider audiences and prospective students through immersive science-theatre experiences.

They’re currently devising an event exploring cold case investigations in collaboration with Locate International, a charity focussed on unsolved missing persons cases.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next chance to travel back in time to solve a case!