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[SI0238] - Foundations of Contemporary Criminology

Module Code: SI0238
Module Leader: Gordon Hughes
Year: 1
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20

Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars
Assessment: Coursework (Essays) 2000 words (20%) - Autumn Semester; Written examination 2 hours (80%)  - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Criminology; Social Science; Sociology


Module Aims

  • To provide students with a detailed introduction to the key features of criminology as a distinct field of study in the social sciences
  • To enable students to develop a sound understanding of the distinction between social scientific criminological explanation and both popular representations and nonsocial scientific explanations of crime and its control
  • To introduce students to key research strategies in criminology and major forms of criminological evidence
  • To provide students with a detailed introduction to key theoretical explanations of crime, control and state punishment
  • To enable students to develop a sound comprehension of key sociological perspectives on social control and state punishment

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Demonstrate sound knowledge of the key features of contemporary criminological practice as a field of social scientific inquiry.
  • Show a sound knowledge and comprehension of how popular images and explanations of crime, control and punishment are constructed and represented.
  • Identify and describe a range of research strategies in criminological research.
  • Provide an accurate exposition of key theoretical approaches to understanding crime and control.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • Show a capacity to understand and draw evidence from crime and crime control data sources.
  • Conduct and present scholarly work drawing upon a range of resources.
  • Present a sound line of argument in an essay on a criminological topic.
  • In a small group setting, articulate informed views about the  contemporary problem of crime and its control.
  • Analyse the implications for crime control policy of different theories of crime and punishment.

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Demonstrate an ability to compare and contrast popular and social scientific explanations and representations of the contemporary crime and justice problem.
  • Be able to evaluate some of the major challenges in thinking about the nature, measurement and extent of crime, control and punishment.
  • Explain how a range of theories and research approaches are used in criminological explanation of crime and its control and punishment.
  • Show an ability to apply wider theoretical concepts on crime and punishment to recent and current debates on crime, security and justice.

Transferable Skills

  • The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills: use of library and internet resources, written presentation skills, problem solving; communication; interpretation of different forms of data; independent thinking.

Synopsis of Module Content

This module introduces students to the main features of contemporary criminological explanation as a branch of the social sciences.  In the first semester the module seeks to contrast contemporary criminology as a field of social scientific inquiry from both popular ‘lay’ understandings and competing (non-social) scientific explanations of crime and its control. In so doing students are introduced to the main ways in which criminologists theorise and research the nature, extent and distribution of crime and major methods of inquiry employed by them.  In the second semester, the focus turns to questions of crime control and punishment. This programme will provide an overview of both the sociology of social control and philosophical  justifications of punishment. Throughout the module, we engage with several ‘live’ issues of public debate to illustrate our broad aims in the module and to highlight the ‘public’ face of criminology today.


Indicative Reading

Carrabine, E et.al (2009) Criminology: A Sociological Introduction, London, Routledge.

McLaughlin, E., Muncie, J. and Hughes, G. (2003) (Eds) Criminological Perspectives: Essential Readings. Second Edition. London: Sage

McLaughlin, E and Muncie, J (2006) Sage Dictionary of Criminology, Sage.

McLaughlin, E. and Muncie, J. (2001) (Eds)  Controlling Crime. Second Edition. London: Sage 

Muncie, J and McLaughlin, E (eds)  (2001) Problem of Crime, Sage.Newburn, T (2007) Criminology, Willan Publishing

Treadwell, J (2006) Criminology, Sage.