LL272      Half Unit
Outlines of Modern Criminology

This information is for the 2020/21 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.

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


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year some or all of this teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus.  This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Michaelmas Term.

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)


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

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 23

Average class size 2019/20: 23

Capped 2019/20: Yes (25)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills