module specification

SC5000 - Crime in Context (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Crime in Context
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay, 3,000 words
Seen Examination 50%   Seen examination 2.5 hours
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

The module builds on level 4 introductory modules to provide an overview of the study of crime, criminality and criminals with reference to particular categories of ‘crime’.  It begins by looking at how crime developed and changed in the transition from premodern to modern industrial societies.  It then examines contemporary forms of crime by looking respectively at those associated with and predominantly perpetrated by the socially marginalised (the criminal ‘underworld’) and those associated with the economically and socially powerful (the ‘overworld’).

Module aims

The module aims to:

  1. Examine the historical development of crime in the transition from premodern to modern societies
  2. Examine the crimes of the ‘underworld’ along with the theories that have been developed to explain them
  3. Examine the crimes of the ‘overworld’ along with the theories that have been developed to explain them
  4. Develop further learning and transferable skills in preparation for modules at level 6.


The first part of the module offers students a short history of crime.  This includes studying the history of robbery, banditry and piracy and the changing nature of violent crime in the transition from premodern to modern societies.  This section will conclude by introducing and examining the crimes of the ‘underworld’, including the analysis of ‘gangs’, the illegal trade in drugs, urban disorder and the development of organised crime.  The module concludes by examining a range of crimes associated with and perpetrated by the socially and economically powerful.  This section examines white-collar crime, corporate crime, eco-crime and state crime.


Learning and teaching

A variety of teaching and learning methods are employed to facilitate the development of subject-specific and transferable skills.  These include lectures, seminars, workshops, study skills sessions and reading groups.  To facilitate the learning process students are provided with a regularly updated Blackboard page upon which study resources are located including relevant publications and hyperlinks to relevant web-based resources.  Guest speakers also make contributions, giving students the opportunity to hear from academics about their research in specific areas.

In addition to formal lectures and seminars contact time is used as an opportunity to develop reflexive learning through engaging students in a range of exploratory and research-based activities; students evaluate their own practice in relation to their personal development in seminars and workshop contexts.

Students are expected to spend approximately 7 hours per week in independent study and writing.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Specify the ways in which crime has changed over time
  2. Explain why crimes often associated with poor populations occur and command the social visibility that they do
  3. Specify and critically discuss the different motivations that lead people to engage in crime
  4. Organise material systematically and reflect critically upon it with reference to primary sources and contemporary research
  5. Specify a problem or problems and carry out a project in relation to this/these
  6. Employ appropriate resources including web-based resources in undertaking research

Assessment strategy

There are two items of assessment.  One unit of formative assessment precedes one summative assessment.  Students produce an essay of 3000 words.  This tests learning outcomes 4,5,6.  The final piece of assessment is an unseen examination of two hours which tests learning outcomes 1,2,3,4,7.


Alexander, C.E. (2008) Rethinking ‘Gangs’: gangs, youth violence and public policy, Runnymede Trust
Bauman, Z. (1989) Modernity and the Holocaust, Cambridge:Polity
Bourgois, P. I. (2003) In search of respect: selling crack in El Barrio, Cambridge:Cambridge University Press
Cohen, S. (1972)  Folk Devils and Moral Panics: the creation of the mods and rockers, London:MacGibbon and Kee
Croall, H. (2011) Crime and Society in Britain, 2nd edn., Essex:Pearson Education
Hall, S., T. Jefferson, et al. (1976)Resistance through rituals : youth subcultures in post-war Britain, London, Hutchinson [for] the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham
Hallsworth, S. (2005) Street Crime, Cullompton:Willan.
Hobbs, D. (1995) Professional Criminals, Aldershot:Dartmouth
Katz, J. (1988) Seductions of Crime: moral and sensual attractions in doing evil, New York:Basic Books
Klein, M. W. (2001)  The Eurogang Paradox : street gangs and youth groups in the U.S. and Europe, Dordrecht, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Muncie, J. (2004) Youth and crime, London:Thousand Oaks, Calif.:SAGE Publications
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2003) Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful: scrutinizing states and corporations, New York:Peter Lang
Winlow, S. and Hall, S. (2006) Violent night : urban leisure and contemporary culture, Oxford: New York, Berg.

British Journal of Criminology
Theoretical Criminology
Crime, Media and Culture
Critical Criminology
Criminology and Criminal Justice