module specification

SC6051 - Serious and Serial Offenders (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Serious and Serial Offenders
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
 
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   2000 word case study
Coursework 60%   2000 word assignment
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explores the definition, characteristics and offending behaviour of serious and serial offenders, with a particular focus on mass, spree and serial murderers, sexual offenders and arsonists. The module also considers how such offenders are investigated, their behaviour and characteristics analysed. Key explanatory theories used to explain serious and serial offending will be examined and the efficacy of these in relation to methodological concerns critically evaluated. Finally, the module explores the identification and apprehension of serious and serial offenders, including the application of psychological and geographic profiling techniques.

 

Prior learning requirements

Completion of level 4 or 5

Module aims

The module aims to:

  1. discuss and give examples of some of the most disturbing and controversial forms of offending behaviour;
  2. identify the prevalence of serial and serious offending within the broader population of criminal offences, questioning common assumptions about, and contemporary popular focus on, these categories of offences;
  3. evaluate and debate the definition and measurement of serious and serial offending, particularly in relation to methodological concerns;
  4. describe and critically discuss a range of key theories and concepts employed in the explanation and understanding of serious and serial offenders;
  5. critically evaluate the investigation and detection of such offenders and offences, with a special focus on offender and geographic profiling.

Syllabus

The syllabus considers and evaluates the definition and measurement of categories of serious and serial offending as well as the nature and characteristics of serious and serial offenders. Key theoretical approaches, concepts and theories employed in the explication of such offending behaviour are outlined and critically discussed. Methodological concerns regarding definitions, measurement and analysis of serious and serial offending and offenders are critically evaluated in relation to a range of case studies. Law enforcement and clinical investigative techniques are outlined, evaluated and discussed in relation to the detection and apprehension of serious and serial offenders, with a particular focus on the efficacy and deployment of psychological and geographic profiling techniques.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is delivered through one hour weekly lectures and a programme of seminars, workshops and guided exercises (two hours per week) focussed on indicative reading. Tutorial support will be offered throughout the module by way of tutor availability during office hours, seminar/workshop discussions and via email. Lectures deliver core material providing a framework for further reading and independent study. Seminars provide an opportunity for students to seek clarification of material covered in the lectures and a forum for them to further their knowledge and understanding of these concepts and processes through discussion of key journal articles and case studies. Blackboard will be used to provide information and teaching/learning materials to support the learning process. The module requires approximately 7 hours per week of independent reading, research and writing.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. discuss, and give examples of, some of the most disturbing and controversial forms of offending behaviour;
  2. identify and discuss the prevalence of particular serious and serial offences and question common assumptions, and contemporary concerns, regarding the nature and characteristics of serious and serial offenders as well as the particular offence categories to which they relate;
  3. describe and critically evaluate definitions and measurement techniques of serious and serial offenders and their offending behaviour and evaluate key theories and concepts employed to explain serious and serial offending;
  4. critically evaluate law enforcement and clinical investigative techniques used to detect and apprehend serious and serial offenders;
  5. synthesise information and data obtained from a number of sources and present arguments and research findings coherently as they pertain to serious and serial offending.

Assessment strategy

This module is assessed by one case study (40% of assessment) and one essay (60% of assessment).

The case study requires students to identify and discuss the prevalence of serious and serial offending (learning outcome 2), critically evaluating definitions and measurement of a particular type of serious or serial offending (learning outcome 3) and to explain and evaluate key theories and concepts employed to explain those types of offences and offending behaviour (learning outcome 3) through relevant examples of same (learning outcome 1).

The essay requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of theoretical approaches to serious and serial offenders, offender typologies, and psychological and geographical profiling (learning outcomes 2, 3 and 4).

For both assessments students will need to present their arguments and evidence clearly and logically, display a clear grasp of the conceptual issues arising from the module subject matter and demonstrate that they have engaged in student-centred learning. Overall, students will be marked on the following criteria: knowledge and understanding of material covered during the module (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4), synthesis of the conceptual issues and information presented across lectures (learning outcome 5), an ability to develop critical and substantiated arguments and present these coherently with adherence to academic conventions (learning outcome 5).

Bibliography

Andrews, D. A. and Bonta, J. (2010) The Psychology of Criminal Conduct 5th edition,
Cincinatti:  Anderson Publishing Company

Birgden, A. and Cucolo H. (2011) "The Treatment of Sex Offenders" Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 23(3): 295-313

Blackburn, R. (1993). The psychology of criminal conduct: theory, research, and practice, J. Wiley

Blair, R.J.R., Peschardt K.S., Budhani, S., Mitchell, D.G.V., Pine, D.S. (2006) ‘The development of psychopathy’, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47(3/4): 262–275

Brett, A. (2004) “'Kindling Theory' in Arson: How Dangerous Are Firesetters?” The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 38:419-25

Brookman, F. (2005) Understanding homicide, SAGE Publications

Brown, J. M. and Campbell E. A. (2010) The Cambridge Handbook of Forensic Psychology, Cambridge University Press

Downes, D. and Rock, P. (2011) Understanding Deviance 6th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Finkelhor, D. (1984) Child sexual abuse: new theory and research, New York, NY: The Free Press

Haggerty, K. (2009) ‘Modern serial killers’, Crime, Media and Culture, 5(2), pp.168–187

Hare, R. D. (1999) ‘Psychopathy as a Risk Factor for Violence’, Psychiatric Quarterly 70(3): 181

Harrison K (2012) Dangerousness, Risk and the Governance of Serious Sexual and Violent Offenders. London: Taylor and Francis

Holmes, S. T. and Holmes R. M. (2008) Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behavior, Sage Publications

Jones, A. (2010) Genocide: a comprehensive introduction 2nd edition, Routledge

Katsavdakis, K. A. et al. (2011) "A Female Mass Murder" Journal of Forensic Sciences, 56(3): 813-818

Leyton, E. (2003) Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, NY: Carroll & Graf

Malamuth, N. M., Heavey,C. L. and Linz, D. (1996) ‘The confluence model of sexual aggression: combining hostile masculinity and impersonal sex’, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 23(3‐4): 13--‐37

Prins H (2005) Offenders, Deviants or Patients?: 3rd Edition. London: Taylor and Francis

Ward, T. and Beech, A. R. (2006) ‘An integrated theory of sexual offending’, Aggression and Violent Behavior 11: 44–63

Ward, T., Polaschek, D. and Beech, A. R. (2005) Theories of sexual offending, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons