Not available in 2020/21
SP371      Half Unit
Interrogating Criminological Research

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Coretta Phillips OLD 2.28


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Criminology. This course is available on the 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.


Prior study of criminology might be helpful.

Course content

This third year core course half-unit will run as a MT half-unit combined with Criminological Controversies that will run in LT. It is intended to build on the research methods skills taught in the core course SP201 and to stimulate students' interest in how to study foundational questions in criminology as well as the more contemporary controversies in the discipline.  The course will also assist students select the most appropriate research design and methods to complete their dissertations (SP398).

The primary objective of the course is to provide students with the skills to become thoughtful consumers of criminological research so they can assess the strengths and weaknesses of published research findings and analysis. This will be accomplished by evaluating the application of quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques to criminological questions and critically assessing the conclusions drawn by criminologists from their empirical work. 

Indicative lecture content:

1. Epistemology, politics and criminological research

2. Surveys: measuring victimisation and self-report offending

3. Thinking about crime control historically

4. Experiments: evaluating crime prevention, policing, and restorative justice

5. Longitudinal studies and desistance

6. Reading Week – writing essays and using posters

7. Studying legitimacy using interviews and focus groups

8. Ethnographic studies of state detention

9. Quantitative and qualitative comparative research

10. Visual methods and environmental harms

11. Big data and cyber-hate


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

This course will be taught as two-hour combined lecture/classes - allowing for interactivity in all sessions.

In MT Reading Week 6 there will be an two-hour essay and poster-writing session. It will use resources recommended by TLC –

Designing a poster: tutorial. (2007) University of Leicester

Miller, J and Trainor, J. Creating Anthropology Conference Posters: A Guide for Beginners

O’Neill, G. and Jennings, D. (2012) The use of posters for assessment: a guide for staff:

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

• R. King and E. Wincup (eds.) Doing Research on Crime and Justice, 2nd Edition, Oxford: OUP.

• D. Gadd, S. Karstedt and S. Messner (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Criminological Research Methods, London: Sage.

• R. Tewksbury and E. Mustaine (eds.) Controversies in Criminal Justice Research, London: Routledge.

• Drake, D., Earle, R. and Sloan, J. (2015) (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

• Crow, I. and Semmens, N. (2008) Researching Criminology. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

• Gunaratnam, Y. (2003) Researching 'Race' and Ethnicity: Methods, Knowledge and Power, Sage, London.

• M Bulmer (2015) The Uses of Social Research: Social Investigation in Public Policy-Making, Oxford: Routledge.

• A Bryman (2012) Social Research Methods, 4th Edition, Oxford: OUP.


Coursework (40%) in the MT.
Take-home assessment (60%) in the LT.

The take home essay-based assessment is to be completed within 8 hours during LT Week 0.

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