MA Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Criminology and Mass Violence

Unit code CRIM61052
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Criminology
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course aims to describe and understand collective social behaviour that is criminalised in international law (with a particular focus on genocide and crimes against humanity) and other behaviour that is not (for example ‘ecocide’ and other forms of ‘state crime’). It applies a range of perspectives from the social and psychological sciences at a range of different levels of analysis (micro/meso/macro). The course also includes research-informed specialist topics.

Indicative content: (1) Context & definitions of mass violence; (2) Criminology & mass violence; (3) Macro-meso theories of perpetration; (4) Micro-level theories of perpetration; (5) Towards a victimology of mass violence; (6) Bereaved family activism in the aftermath of atrocity crime; (7) State repression in Latin America; (8) Penology, lynching & capital punishment in the US; (9) Responding to & preventing mass violence; (10) Assessment support


This course unit aims too establish the potential for a reflexive, interdisciplinary and morally responsible criminology of mass violence.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to: (1) Understand criminology’s historic complicity & silence in the field of mass violence; (2) Apply criminological theory to instances of mass violence; (3) Draw on complementary ideas from psychology, sociology and penology; (4) Critically assess the nature & worth of the criminological gaze

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching in academic year 20/21 will reflect both University policy and local and national lockdown restrictions operating at the time of delivery. We will offer face-to-face teaching where possible and provide a like for like on-line experience for those unable to be on campus.

Our teaching models will be flexible and allow us to adapt to changing conditions, however, the common intention across units is to provide (1) media, activities and other learning material that should be engaged with before scheduled teaching; (2) a timetabled online lecture/workshop session used for a range of online Q&A and follow-up activities; (3) weekly opportunity for 1:1 support. In total, there will be the opportunity for a minimum of 20 hours of contact time.


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.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

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

Recommended reading

Rafter, N. (2016) The Crime of All Crimes: Towards a Criminology of Genocide. New York: NYU Press.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jon Shute Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Study hours: Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of 35-40 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands 9-10 hours of study per week comprised of (i) timetabled contact hours, (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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