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SO129-15 Criminology: Theories and Concepts

Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Shona Robinson-Edwards
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This course aims at developing understanding and knowledge of key criminological perspectives.
The module will encourage students to reflect on different assumptions and ideologies behind these different perspectives. Students will develop the necessary analytical, theoretical and critical skills to examine sociological and criminological theoretical perspectives to complex social issues.

Module web page

Module aims

This course aims at developing understanding and knowledge of key criminological perspectives.

The module will encourage students to reflect on different assumptions and ideologies behind these different perspectives. Students will develop the necessary analytical, theoretical and critical skills to examine sociological and criminological theoretical perspectives to complex social issues. Key aims include:

The intended learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to the Subject Benchmarks for Criminology and the programme learning outcomes.

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to show: be able to critically appraise the intellectual contribution of each school of criminological thought and be able to apply criminological theory to a broad range of contemporary problems of crime ,social inequality disorder and social harm.

  • Progression in ability to present arguments in oral form, through developing skills in seminar presentation. Group members will ask and respond to questions in a bid to facilitate discussion.
  • Be able to identify, retrieve and interpret information on patterns of gender, victimisation an crime and to relate these to specific debates and issues.
  • Advancement of existing skills in regard to the organisation of information in a clear and coherent manner, through essay writing, and seminar-based group discussion of completed essays.
  • Be able to gather, retrieve and synthesise data and information from different schools and disciplines of enquiry.
  • Show progression in development of research skills through advanced library investigation, critical debate and essay writing. · Develop enhanced research and organisational skills by using library e-journal and other on-line resources.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.


  1. Classicism
  2. Positivism: the invention of the atavistic criminal man and ‘ir’ rational
  3. SOCIOLOGICAL CRIMINOLOGY: Durkheim and anomie
  4. Merton, Anomie and Strain Theory


  1. The Chicago School and the ecology of crime
  2. Reading Week
  3. The Labelling Perspective


  1. Feminist Theoretical Perspectives
  2. Cultural Criminology
  3. Zemiology and the Carnivalesque of Crime
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Theoretical Criminology will provide students with a critical understanding of the development of criminological perspectives. The module builds upon the knowledge and skills developed in Crime and Society, History of Sociological Thought. by: Describing and assessing a range of criminological perspectives . Demonstrate knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with criminological theory an ability to present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with criminological theories and concepts
  • An appreciation of the insights that criminological thought brings to the study of crime and deviance
  • Critical awareness of the limitations of criminological theory and Schools of thought in the understanding of crime and deviance.
  • Further developing the understanding of the historical development of criminology theory.
  • Developing an understanding of the links between sociological and criminological perspectives
  • Building on existing ability to apply research evidence to understandings of deviance, social control and related social problems.
  • Development of skills in accessing and evaluating relevant literature for independent study, research and essay writing.
Indicative reading list

Background Reading
Agozino, B. (2004): “Imperialism, Crime and Criminology: Towards a decolonization of criminology” in Crime, Law and Social Change, 41, pp. 343-358.

Beckmann, A Moore, M.J and Wahidin A. (eds) (2016) Penal Abolitionism, European Group Press.

Beccaria, C. (1764) ‘On Crime and Punishments’, Extract reprinted in J. Muncie et al (eds.) (1996) Criminological Perspectives: A Reader, London: Sage.

Chamberlen, A (2018) Embodying Punishment: Emotions, Identities and Lived Experiences in Women’s Prisons, Clarendon Studies in Criminology Series, Oxford University.

Cohen, P (1972) Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of Mods and Rockers, London, Routledge.

Cohen, S. (2002): “Human Rights and crimes of the State: the culture of denial” in Muncie, J McLaughlin, E. and M. Langan (eds) Criminological Perspectives. A Reader. London: Sage

Cloward, R. and Ohlin, L. (1960) Delinquency and Opportunity: Theory of Delinquent Gangs, New York: Free Press.

Clarke, J, et al (1976) Subcultures, cultures and class in S. Hall and T. Jefferson (eds) Resistance Through Rituals, London: Hutchinson.

Franko, Aas, K. (2007): Globalization and Crime. London: Sage. Ch. 8

Gelsthorpe, L. & Morris, A. (eds) (1990) Feminist Perspectives in Criminology, Milton Keynes: OUP.

Gelsthorpe, L. (2002) ‘Feminism and Criminology’, in M. Maguire et al (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gelsthorpe, L. and Morris, A. (1990)(eds.) Feminist Perspectives in Criminology, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Hall, S. and Jefferson, T. (eds) (1977), Resistance Through Ritual: Youth Subcultures in Post war Britain.

Hayward, K and Morrison, W (2013), Theoretical Criminology: A Starting Point in C. Hale, A. Wahidin and E. Wincup (eds) Criminology Oxford, London.

Hebdige, D (1979) Subculture: The Meaning of Style, London: Methuen.

Jamieson, R. (1998): “Towards a criminology of war in Europe”

McRobbie, A (1993) ‘Shut up and dance: youth culture and changing modes of femininity in Cultural Studies 7: 406-426.

Naffine, N. (1997) Feminism and Criminology, Cambridge: Polity Press

Pemberton, S (2015) Harmful Societies: Understanding Social Harm, Bristol: Policy Press.

Lilly, R, Cullen, F. and Ball, R. (2007) Criminological Theory, London: Sage

Green, P. and T. Ward (2005): State Crime. London: Pluto. Ch. 1

Morrison, W. (2003):“Criminology and Genocide” in Sumner, C. and W. Chambliss (eds) The Blackwell Companion to criminology. Blackwell Publishing.

Smart, C. (1976). Women, crime, and criminology: A feminist critique. London: Routledge

Wahidin, A (2005), Older Women in Prison: running Out of Time. London Jessica Kingsley.

Hillyard, P. et al (2004): Beyond Criminology. Taking Harm Seriously. London: Pluto.

Tierney, J. (2009), Criminology, London: Longman, London: Huchinson.

Valier, C (2002) Theories of Crime and Punishment, Longman, London.

Vold, G. Bernard, T. and Snipes, J. (2002), Theoretical Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., Young, J. (2015) Cultural Criminology, Sage, London.

Subject specific skills

To demonstrate knowledge and understanding with the development of criminological theory

To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of criminological theory and be able to apply criminological perspectives to different social contexts

To compare and contrast different theoretical approaches.

Identify key contributions that sociological and criminological thought has made to the study of deviance.

  • Evaluate strengths and limitations in theoretical approaches
Transferable skills
  • Undertake independent, desk-based research and essay writing skills. These include: A) the gathering of appropriate library and web-based resources that are appropriate for UG level 4. B) Making theoretical, methodological and empirical evaluations and C) using the available evidence to construct and synthesise an argument both orally and in the written form.
  • Demonstrate effective time management skills.
  • Manage complex information and demonstrate critical analytical skills.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading for seminars.
Preparation for seminars.
Preparation and writing of formative work.
Preparation and writing of summative work.
Other work related to assessment.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Assessed essays/coursework 100%


Feedback on assessment

The last seminar of the module will be skills-based and students will be asked to bring to class a one-page \r\nessay outline so that they can get informal feedback on it before the submission of their essay.


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology

This module is Option list A for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 1 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 1 of L301 Sociology

This module is Option list G for:

  • UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics
    • Year 1 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 1 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)