Course Code : LAW 420

Course Title : Criminology

Weekly Teaching Hour: 1 (2-hour) seminar per week, 3 (1-hour) tutorials per week

Who may enrol : Optional course for year 4 (Senior) LLB students .

Prerequisites : N/A

Lecturer : To be announced on August 2020

Description : This course critically examines some of the major theories that have been advanced to explain crime and criminality within their historical context.

Gang crime, county lines, murder, rape, robbery, theft and assault: all of these terms are familiar to us. But what exactly is crime?

Who are the people who commit criminal acts, why do they do so, and what should we do about it? These are just some of the questions you will address on this course.

You will learn to evaluate some of the theories that have been advanced to explain crime and criminality. These theories come from a variety of disciplines – biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy but you do not require prior knowledge of these subjects. Alongside the academic literature you will consider the reflection and development of ideas about crime historically in literary texts, such as ;

  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818),
  • Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky, 1866),
  • Nana (Zola, 1880),
  • Brighton Rock (Greene, 1938) and
  • The Pearl Steinbeck,1947).

These novels address some of the bigger issues underlying criminological theory – questions about the human condition, such as who we are and how we become who we are, to what extent we are made by society and to what extent we are born to become who we are – the age old question of crime as destiny or social construct.

Finally, you will explore some of the implications of criminological theories for the development of law and policies aimed at crime control. This will provide a solid platform from which to critically examine the legitimacy and effectiveness of historical and contemporary penal practices.

Course outline:

  • Introduction to the history of ideas and ways of thinking about crime
  • Introduction to significant concepts concerning crime and its explanation
  • The facts? What we know about the incidence and patterns of crime
  • Student workshop on interpretation of the “facts of crime” – case study on murder.
  • Classical School of Criminology: free will, situational and opportunity theories
  • Individual pathology: physiological and biological explanations
  • Individual pathology: personality

Social explanation: Durkheim on Suicide: the beginnings of sociological method

The Chicago School and social ecology

Strain theory: The American dream

Social learning: Sutherland and differential association, Emile Durkheim, and G.H Mead

Subcultural theories: social strain and cultural transmission

Control theory

Symbolic interactionism: social reaction and labelling theories

Critical explanations: American conflict theory and Marxist explanation

Critical explanations: feminism, masculinities and post-modernism

The application of criminological theory to particular types of crime, for example gang crime and/or expanding the traditional field of criminology: terrorism, state crime and genocide.

Revision class: examination questions and brief evaluation of the field: Is there any point in seeking a general explanation of crime?

Recommended Textbook (s) and Supplementary Books :

  1. Katherine Williams (2012) ‘Textbook on Criminology’, (7th or latest edition) OUP, Oxford.
  2. Pearson, G. (1983) Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears (Macmillan p/b reprinted in 1994)
  3. Campbell, B. (1993) Goliath: Britain’s Dangerous Places (Methuen) (optional)
  4. Students will also be expected to read additional articles and extracts from academic books and literary texts as examples of the development of ideas and various approaches to the explanation of crime and criminality. All the academic journals and book extracts are digitalised or available online via the library e-journals link.

Course Assessment:

  • Class Participation 10%,

  • Mid-term Examination 30%,

  • Assignments 10%, 2 x formative essays

  • Final Examination 50%, 100% Unseen 3-hour written examination

Attendance 95 % compulsory.