Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
History of Criminology
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 3 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 words required in week 12  100%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 words  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Investigate historical material and critically analyse, within its historical contexts, the development of a body of knowledge which becomes known as "criminology". The characteristics of that body of knowledge and the merits of its claims to be a "discipline" will be investigated, and several key theories will be examined and discussed with relation to broader developments in science and society.

Brief description

The search for the origin of the 'science' of criminology has produced a number of possible progenitors, mostly within the nineteenth century. This course examines the subject's claim to be a science and traces the development of bodies of knowledge, often competing and contested, to explain criminal behaviour. It charts, and offers historical explanations for, the movement away from locating wrong in notions of (universal) sin and vice to a more specific and selective belief in criminality as a mark of individual and/or social pathology.


To consider the important developments in the development of criminological thinking. A critical approach to the historical specificity of knowledge claims should inform more basically the student's reflection on more recent and contemporary theory in this field.


Introductory, but fundamental issues: the claim of criminology to be a 'science'. Early narratives of crime, sin and vice. Reasons for a change in approach.

Early 'empirical' doctrines: Physiognomy and Phrenology

British empiricism: The work of Henry Mayhew and others

Lombrosian Positivism and its critics

Eugenic theory

Early environmental and 'sociological' theories: Carpenter, Tarde, Durkheim. Political theory and criminology.

The development of Criminal psychology

Criminality and public opinion Some historical case studies


This module is at CQFW Level 6