LL272      Half Unit
Outlines of Modern Criminology

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Nicola Lacey


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


None, but some familiarity with sociological or psychological literature would be an advantage.

Course content

This half-unit course is a general introduction to the study of modern criminology. 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 focus is on the classical and contemporary theories developed over the past two hundred years to explain and predict criminal behaviour in society. The propositions, assumptions, empirical validity, and policy implications of these criminological theories, as well as the social context in which they were developed, will be examined. Other significant issues in criminology – such as the measurement and extent of crime, the role of demographics (age, race, gender, social class) in the causation of and reaction to crime, the influence of the media and political regimes, and the changing boundaries of criminological research – will also be discussed.

Course content:

  • The history of criminological theory.
  • Trends in crime and crime statistics. How official statistics can be interpreted and the role of crime surveys
  • ‘Classical’ criminology, rational choice, and crime prevention theories.
  • Individual explanations of crime: biological, psychological and psychoanalytical theories.
  • Sociological explanations of crime,  including macro and micro approaches and recent critical theories
  • Criminal justice policy and ‘law and order’ politics.
  • Discrimination, Inequalities, crime and criminal justice
  • Crime and the mass media


20 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

The formative coursework consists one in class presentation (in groups) and a short review of literature in a relevant topic.  Feedback on the literature review will help prepare students for the summative assessment.

Indicative reading

The texts for this course are:

  • Criminology, 3rd ed. by T. Newburn (2017)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. By Leibling, A; Mcara, L. and Maruna, S (eds) 6th edition (2017)
  • Crime: The Mystery of the Common Sense Concept. By R. Reiner (2017)

Recommended Readings

  • Law and Order: An Honest Citizen’s Guide to Crime and Control. by R. Reiner (2007)
  • Crime, Shame, and Reintegration. by J. Braithwaite (1989)
  • Understanding Deviance, 7th Ed. by D. Downes, P. Rock and E. McLaughlin (2016)
  • Vold's Theoretical Criminology by T. Bernard and J. Snipes and A. Gerould. 7th edition (2015)


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 15

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills