LL272      Half Unit
Outlines of Modern Criminology

This information is for the 2013/14 session.


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Some familiarity with sociological or psychological literature would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.

Course content

This half unit course aims to give an introduction to selected aspects of modern criminology, lasting one term. The course is highly selective and every effort is made to hold the reading requirements within reasonable limits. It is suitable for General Course students, and a limited number may be admitted on application.

The main theories about crime and its explanation are examined, including biological, psychological and psychoanalytical theories. The emphasis is on sociological theories about crime, including modern critical theories. The course also analyses the most prominent current issues about crime and criminal justice. These include a consideration of recent trends in crime and how well they are represented by criminal statistics and the mass media; the role of policing and crime control; the politics of criminal justice; discrimination, crime and justice.

Course outline

1. The history of criminological theory.
2. ‘Classical’ criminology and rational choice theories.
3. Individual explanations of crime: biological, psychological and psychoanalytical theories.
4. Sociological explanations of crime; including recent critical theories
5. Trends in crime and crime statistics. How official statistics can be interpreted and the role of crime surveys.
6. Criminal justice policy and ‘law and order’ politics.
7. Policing and crime prevention.
8. Discrimination, crime and criminal justice: race and gender.
9. Crime and the mass media


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

There is no single text which covers all the topics included. Useful introductions which can be read in advance are: S.Jones, Criminology; R.Reiner, Law and Order. Most of the topics on the course are covered in: M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology and T.Newburn, Criminology.

Other recommended texts: D. Downes & P. Rock, Understanding Deviance; G. Vold and T. Bernard, Theoretical Criminology; I. Taylor, P. Walton, J. Young, The New Criminology.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: 14

Average class size 2012/13: 14

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills