Not available in 2020/21
SP273      Half Unit
Comparative Criminology

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leonidas Cheliotis OLD 2.51


This course is available on the BSc in Criminology, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics and BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This second/third-year course (that may also be offered to MSc students in the future if there is interest) will run as a half-unit option, and will explore the methods and insights of comparative research on issues of crime and criminal justice. In so doing, the course will consider historical as well as international comparative research, both from the field of criminology itself and beyond. After introducing students to the long-running tradition and main currents of comparative criminology, the course will turn to specific themes of criminological interest that have attracted the attention of comparative scholarship, critically evaluating the substantive findings of such works in light of their theoretical and methodological foundations. Themes to be addressed include, for example:

• the ways in which varieties of masculine honour have influenced levels and patterns of interpersonal violence in different cultural contexts;

• public attitudes towards witchcraft and the treatment of suspected witches over time and across the world;

• the role played by biological criminology as a scientific discipline in Europe and Latin America in the construction of criminal categories and the promotion of eugenic measures against lawbreakers;

• the part played by women penal reformers in promoting ‘progressive’ changes to prison policy and practice in the Anglophone world and the Mediterranean region; and

• the array and relative significance of the factors that have affected the prevalence and operations of the death penalty around the globe.

Thanks to its specific and strong emphasis on method, as well as the novelty and breadth of its thematic scope, the course will neatly complement existing criminological provision at LSE.

Indicative course content

1 Vision and Method in Historical Comparative Criminology

2 Vision and Method in International Comparative Criminology

3 Honour, Masculinity and Interpersonal Violence

4 Witchcraft and Witch Trials

5 Criminology and (De-)Criminalisation

6 Reading Week

7 Policing and Vigilantism

8 Race, Slavery and Punishment

9 The Prison Experience

10 Gender and Penal Reform

11 The Death Penalty


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Crawford, A. (ed.) (2011) International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance: Convergence and Divergence in Global, National and Local Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hutton, R. (2017) The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Nelken, D. (ed.) (2011) Comparative Criminal Justice and Globalisation. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Pakes, F. (2010) Comparative Criminal Justice. Devon: Willan.

Platt, A. M. (1969) The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency. Chicago, IL: Univer¬sity of Chicago Press.

Spierenburg, P. (2012) Violence and Punishment: Civilising the Body through Time. Cambridge: Polity.

Weiss, R. P. and N. South (eds) (1998) Comparing Prison Systems: Towards a Comparative and International Penology. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach Publishers.


Essay (70%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (30%) in the MT.

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: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication