Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Theoretical Foundations of Research in Law and Criminology
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2000 word coursework assignment  80%
Semester Assessment Oral presentation  20%
Supplementary Assessment 2000 word coursework assignment  - resubmission of failed components  80%
Supplementary Assessment Oral presentation  - Re present failed components  20%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. An understanding of the distinctive role and character of Law and Criminology as disciplines in the context of humanities and social science.
2. A knowledge and understanding of the main theoretical concepts and arguments in Law and Criminology.
3. A knowledge of and an ability to apply main theoretical approaches in both law and Criminology, and an awareness of the relevance and value of theoretical argument in the investigation of practical and 'real life' questions and problems in the context of legal, criminal justice and penal systems.
4. An ability to draw upon theoretical argument in order to make an informed choice regarding theoretical position and research methodology in the fields of Law and Criminology.
5. A confident and informed use of theoretical vocabulary, the handling of concepts, and the use of definition and categorisation in relation to legal and criminological discourse.

Brief description

This module provides an overview and discussion of the theoretical underpinning of Law and Criminology as disciplines for study and research. It explains how the subject areas of law and 'criminal science' have been theorised and developed in Western discourse and indicates the main trends in contemporary critical debate and argument. By providing an insight and understanding of the underlying theoretical basis and structure of these subject areas, it enables researchers to gain an appreciation of the distinctive role and methods of Law and Criminology as disciplines in the broader fields of humanities and social science.


1. To provide an assured understanding of and ability to apply underlying theory in relation to research in the fields of Law and Criminology.
2. To provide a knowledge of the main theoretical approaches to discourse and research in the fields of Law and Criminology.
3. To provide an ability to handle the distinctive vocabulary and concepts used in theorising in those two fields.
4. To provide an understanding of the distinctive disciplinary features of discourse and research in those two fields and the disciplinary location of those subject-areas in the broader context of humanities and social science.
5. To enable the design of research, and choice of theoretical position and methodology by drawing upon an informed appreciation of different theoretical approaches


1. The location of Law as a discipline in humanities and the social sciences and the location of socio-legal enquiry and Criminology as disciplines in the context of social science.
2. Main theoretical positions and approaches in the discussion and analysis of Law: legal positivism, natural law reasoning, and 'critical legal studies'.
3. Main theoretical positions in the discussion of research in Criminology and criminal justice: Criminology as a 'playground of theory' - broader theoretical divisions (sociological psychological and cultural theoretical bases), and more specific competing approaches (anomie, control theory, rational choice, functionalism, behavioural theory, structural theory, radical criminology, 'new right' theories).
4. The main elements and distinctive qualities of legal reasoning and legal argument: concepts of normativity, relevance, analogy, legitimacy, and jural relations (rights and obligation).
5. The relevance and application of Social Anthropology to issues arising in the fields of Law and Criminology.
6. The theory of sanctions (penal theory): justification and objectives (retributive and consequentialist theories); the categorisation of sanctions; the scope of criminal law - decriminalisation theory, utima ratio, and 'penal abolition'.
7. The effectiveness of law and policy: the criteria and measurement of effectiveness as a major concern of both socio-legal and criminological research; concepts of 'hard law' and 'soft law' and the relative merits of these approaches.
8. The political context of research in Law and Criminology: theoretical independence versus serving the legal profession and serving government crime policy.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number In study of the subject
Communication In seminar discussion, the written assignment and the oral presentation
Improving own Learning and Performance In preparation for seminars and assessments
Information Technology In study of the subject and in relation to assessments
Personal Development and Career planning Through independent learning and organization of study time
Problem solving In seminar discussion and the written assignment
Research skills In reading and research in preparation for seminars, the written assignment and oral presentation
Subject Specific Skills Engagement with theoretical vocabulary and concepts and abstract thinking and argument
Team work In seminar discussion and exercises


This module is at CQFW Level 7