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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Explaining Crime and Deviance

Unit code CRIM20412
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course provides students with an introduction to the main perspectives that inform criminological explanations of crime. Its content is both sociological and psychological but does not require prior study in these disciplines or other criminology course units. The course explores the way the problem of crime is construed in official reports, case studies and political discourse. The lecture programme is normally organised as follows, with each session scheduled for two hours:

1. What is theory for? From classical criminology to contemporary questions
2. Urbanization as crime causation: from social disorganisation to social capital
3. Strain theory, control theory and the reasoning criminal
4. Symbolic interactionism, labelling theory and reintegration
5. Critical criminology: ideology, social control and state crime

6. Left realism, crime cultures and cultural criminology
7. Feminism, gender and the masculinities turn
8. Life course criminology, desistance and the psychosocial
9. Globalisation and the new governance
10. Public criminology and the good society

The seminar programme is designed to help students excel in the assessments. The seminar programme is organised as 10 x 1 hour sessions. It is likely to be organised as follows:
1. What can theory do? What does a good theory look like?
2. Crime and the urban environment3. Victims of circumstance or criminal personalities? Strain and control theories

4. Control theory and social bonding
5. Assessment support 1: What makes a good research briefing note?
6. Labelling and social exclusion
7. Assessment support 2
8. Gender, crime and the life course
9. Globalisation and the new governance
10. Essay plan: workshop


The main aim of this course is to introduce students to different theoretical and empirical approaches to explaining crime and deviance. It will also help students to learn how to:

  • Critically engage with theoretical and empirical research in criminology.
  • Locate crime and deviance within a wider social, legal and policy context.

Learning outcomes

Students who take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by this course will acquire the level of knowledge and understanding needed to:

  • Differentiate between key theoretical perspectives to crime and grasp their (often common) origins.
  • Understand the relationships between these theoretical perspectives, the ways in which crime is constructed politically and in popular culture, and the policy ‘solutions’ that tend to follow from them.
  • Critically evaluate the level of fit between theoretical concepts and data about crime and deviance.
  • Outline the strengths and limitations of predominant criminological explanations.


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 2-hour online lecture/workshop slot used for a range of online Q&A and follow-up activities; (3) a timetabled weekly 1-hour seminar/activity slot that will be face-to-face if possible and ‘live’ online if not/preferred; (4) weekly opportunity for 1:1 support. In total, there will be the opportunity for up to 30 hours of contact time. 

Assessment methods

1 x 1000 word briefing note (20%) and 1 x 2500 word essay (80%). Please note Harvard referencing is required for the first assessment. 


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
William Floodgate Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Restricted to: LLB (Law with Criminology) if not choosing LAWS20692 or LAWS20452. BA Crim. Students within Humanities.
Pre-requisites: None.

See Law School timetable


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