LL272      Half Unit
Outlines of Modern Criminology

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Nicola Lacey

Additional teacher: Dr Richard Martin


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 and 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 psychoanalytic 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
  • Green Criminology
  • ‘Big Data’, Technology and Criminology


This course will have a minimum of two hours of teaching content each week, in the form of a two hour seminar. This course includes a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

The formative coursework consists in one class presentation (in groups) and one formative essay.  Feedback on that essay 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) (or 7th edition, currently in production)
  • Crime: The Mystery of the Common Sense Concept. By R. Reiner (2017)

Recommended Readings

  • Phillips, Coretta, Earle, Rod, Parmar, A and Smith, D (2020) Dear British criminology: where has all the race and racism gone? Theoretical Criminology, 24 (3). 427 - 446.  http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/101611/
  • Mary Bosworth and Carolyn Hoyle (eds.) What is Criminology? (2011)
  • 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%).

One 4-5000 word summative essay (100%).

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: 26

Average class size 2021/22: 26

Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills