module specification

SC4000 - Introduction to Criminological Theory (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Introduction to Criminological Theory
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
180 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Learning reflection
Coursework 40%   Class test
Coursework 40%   Essay, 2000 words
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

The module aims to:

1. Examine the emergence and development of criminological theory
2. Examine the different ways in which different criminological traditions theorise crime and its social control
3. Examine how the assumptions which underpin different traditions provide for different strategies of intervention and control
4. Develop students’ learning and transferable skills in preparation for modules at levels 5 and 6.


The module introduces students to the history of criminological thought beginning with the classicist scholars of the Enlightenment in whose work Criminology is rooted.
The challenges to the classical tradition, posed by early biological positivists are then explored  LO1,LO4

The programme then turns to psychological and sociological approaches to crime, particularly the work of Freud, Eysenck, Durkheim and Merton, are examined.  This section goes on to examine the work of the Chicago School including social disorganisation theory, subcultural theory, and labelling theory.  LO2,LO4

The later sections of the programme consider contemporary debates in Criminology including those arising from feminism, Marxism, and realist. 


While examining each theory, the implications for criminal justice policy are considered. LO3,LO4

Students complete a brief formative assessment, which encourages reflection on strategies for learning. They then complete a reflective summary at week 7, to review learning up to this point, an optional choice in class test at week 24, which requires a breadth of knowledge of the material covered, and a 2000 word essay at week 28, to develop depth of analysis LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

A variety of teaching and learning methods are employed to facilitate the development of subject-specific and transferable skills. 

Primarily there are weekly three hour workshops

Within the work shops, students will explore the module topics, study skill sessions and core reading.
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.

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.  A session is set aside in the final week for students to reflect upon what they have learned.

Students are expected to engage in approximately 6 hours per week of self-directed study and writing.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Explain the emergence criminology as a specific way of thinking about crime
2. Identify different criminological theories which have sought to explain crime and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses
3. Explain how theories of crime are associated with strategies of intervention and control
4. Demonstrate transferable skills in academic reading, revision, and reasoning, required for modules at levels 5 and 6.

Assessment strategy

There are three items of summative assessment. 
1) A 1000 word learning reflection in which students identify, reference and summarise key learning points (learning outcomes 1, 3, 4 ),
2) A one hour multiple choice class test asking the student to demonstrate their comprehension of the distinctions between key theories, theorists and concepts (learning outcomes  1, 2, 3, 4)
3) The final assessment requires students to complete a 2000 word essay, in which they describe and evaluate a key theoretical approach (Learning outcomes  1,2,3,4)


Key recommended text books
Chamberlain,. J, (2015)  Criminological theory in context. London, Sage
Newburn, T (2017)  Criminology,: third edition Cullompton: Willan

Other good criminology text books
Downes, D. & Rock, P.,(2011), Understanding Deviance:6th  edn., Oxford: Oxford University Press
Hale, C., Hayward, K., Wahidin, A. & Wincup, E. (2009), Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Jones, S., 2009, Criminology, 4th edn., Oxford, Oxford University Press
Tierney, J., (2010), Criminology: theory and context, 3rd edn.,  Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.

Supplementary reading for further development
Brisman, A. Carrabine E, and South S (2017) The Routledge Companion to Criminological theory and concepts. London: Taylor and Francis
Leibling, A, Maruna, S and McCara L (2017) The Oxford Handbook of Criminological theory. Oxford. Oxford university press
Newburn, T. (2009), Key Readings in Criminology, Cullompton: Willan