MRes Criminology

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Advanced Theoretical Criminology

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM70501
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Criminology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to key theoretical perspectives in criminology and develops a detailed, critical understanding of them. It encourages students to develop a contextualised understanding of the most significant positions and debates in crime and criminal justice research.

Indicative content: (1) Crime & the urban; (2) Anomie & strain; (3) Learning to commit crime?; (4) Crime and everyday life; (5) Control theory; (6) Labelling theory; (7) Gendered theories; (8) Critical criminology.


The unit aims to introduce students to key theoretical perspectives in criminology and to develop a detailed, critical understanding of them.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, the student will have gained (1) a good grounding in the various theoretical approaches to criminological theory and an understanding of how some of these different strands are, at times, in conflict with other approaches; (2) the ability to critically assess the organizing concepts and substantive claims of key theoretical perspectives within criminology; (3) an appreciation of the conceptual dualisms associated with multi-level (e.g. micro/macro) approaches to explanation; (4) an understanding of the social, cultural and political contexts that impact upon theory formation ; (5) an awareness of how theories can be applied to various crime ‘problems’ – old and new.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will be flexible and allow us to adapt to changing conditions, however, the common intention across units is to provide a blended offer of the best in online and on-campus teaching that includes: (1) a workshop used for a range of discursive exercises; (2) high quality learning materials; (3) 1:1 support via a subject-specific contact hour.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Employability skills: In addition to subject-specific knowledge and understanding, Criminology units foster highly employable skills such as the ability to (i) analyse, critique and (re-)formulate a problem or issue; (ii) rapidly and thoroughly review/rate argument and evidence from targeted bibliographic searches; (iii) plan, structure and present arguments in a variety of written formats and to a strict word limit, (iv) express ideas verbally and organise work effectively in small teams for a variety of written and oral tasks; (v) obtain, manipulate and (re-)present different forms of data; (vi) manage time effectively; (vii) reflect on and improve performance through feedback.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback (both individual and collective) will be given on (1) on tasks and contribution in class, (2) developing essay plans. Detailed summative feedback will be given on the submitted essay via Blackboard (Grademark).

Recommended reading

Lilly, R., Cullen, F., and Ball, R., (any edition from 2000 to 2019) Criminological theory: context and consequences. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 16
Independent study hours
Independent study 50

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Claire Fox Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment methods: This unit is summatively assessed by a 3000 word essay (worth 80% of the overall mark) plus a group presentation (worth 20%).

Study hours: Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of 30-35 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands 9-10 hours of study per week consisting of (i)  teacher-led activities and sessions, (ii) preparation, required and further reading.

Part-time students study the same number of weekly hours per unit but take fewer units per semester.

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