Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Elements of Criminology
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 30 hours Total.
Seminars / Tutorials 6 hours. 3 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  of 1500 words required in Week 9  33%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  - A 30 minute compulsory section and one essay question to be completed in 1 hour.  67%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  of 1500 words - if essay element failed  33%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  - if exam element failed - a 30 minute compulsory section and one essay question to be completed in 1 hour.  67%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Analyse both what a criminological theory is able to do and, often more importantly, the limits of its worth.

2. Analyse and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in the existing legal and enforcement provisions from a more socio-legal viewpoint.

3. Display an understanding of the major theories, concepts, values, debates, principles and approaches in the study of criminology and of how crime, deviance and victimisation are socially and legally constructed.

4. Identify key issues, policies, processes, institutions, actors and debates in deviance, crime, law and criminology.

5. Explain the discussions in deviance, crime, victimology, academic criminological debates and responses to these from local, national and international perspectives and the impact of political, media and popular opinion on this area.

6. Show how these approaches and the disciplines of criminology and law help us to explain, understand and influence crime and its effects and are, in turn influenced by other disciplines and theories.

7. Identify the key dynamics, processes and problems facing contemporary criminology, law and the legal system.

8. Explain and analyse the interaction between criminological theory and policy decisions in the area of crime and punishment.

9. Identify problems in the theoretical and explanatory materials and suggest possible solutions.

10. Demonstrate effective basic research skills necessary in finding and interpreting theoretical materials.

Brief description

Students are expected to invest time in reading around the subject. As a rough guide, over the semester, we expect you to:
Attend lectures for 30 hours
Attend seminars for 6 hours
Prepare for seminars for 40 hours (about 13 hours per 2 hour seminar)
Prepare for the coursework assignment for 40 hours (this should be spread over a number of weeks)
Revise for the examination for 40 hours
Conduct additional private study for 44 (about 4.5 hours per week)

The module will introduce students to the major theoretical themes running through criminology and place these within a wider social and political context. It will analyse the continuity in the discipline and the repetition and re-birth of ideas as well as consider the reasons for and the way in which leaps in thinking come into the subject. It will also link these to criminal law and penology to discover whether and how they have been used and, often more interesting, why they have been left to one side by those responsible for policy changes


The content varies but covers many of the following:

INTRODUCTION: Major themes

Conceptualising and defining crime and deviance
Theoretical models of crime: individualistic v structural explanations
Determinism v free will


The classical tradition in criminology.
The positivist school and the emergence of scientific criminology
Biological bases of criminal behaviour: physical characteristics,
physiological processes and genetic factors.
Psychological explanations: psychoanalytic approaches, learning
theories and cognitive approaches.
Early sociological perspectives: functionalism and strain theories.
Structural explanations: social exclusion, inequality, poverty and
The Chicago School: zonal theory, social disorganization and
differential association.
Culture and subculture
Conflict theory
Social control theory
Social construction of crime: the Labelling Perspective.
Critical and radical perspectives
Feminist criminology
Criminological realism
Cultural criminology
Victimology: towards a victim-centred criminology.

Context, theory and policy
The relationship between theory and practice


This module aims to provide students with the basic core of knowledge necessary to criminology. It will introduce them to the interdisciplinary nature of the subject by demonstrating how the disparate stands of knowledge build up theories which enable a better understanding of crime and criminality.


This module is at CQFW Level 4