SC6051 - Serious and Serial Offenders (2021/22)
|Module specification||Module approved to run in 2021/22|
|Module title||Serious and Serial Offenders|
|Module level||Honours (06)|
|Credit rating for module||15|
|School||School of Social Sciences|
|Total study hours||150|
|Running in 2021/22||
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.
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.
Prior learning requirements
Completion of level 4 or 5
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. LO1,LO5
Key theoretical approaches, concepts and theories employed in the explication of such offending behaviour are outlined and critically discussed. LO2
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. LO3
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. LO4
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
Students learn through a variety of methods including weekly lecture workshops focused 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.
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.
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).
Please note there is no core text for this module as the subject matter is too diverse to be captured in one book. A number of journal articles are available on WebLearn under the subject headings for each week. Students will also be expected to conduct additional reading by researching their own articles and sources.
The recommended reading for this module is:
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