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BASS Philosophy and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Serious and Organised Crime

Unit code CRIM30811
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Part A – Theoretical, Conceptual and Empirical Background (theory-led)

Session 1 - Introduction to the Course and Issues in Defining Organised Crime

Session 2 – Offending and Victimisation Explained

Session 3 - The Organisation of Serious Crimes for Gain: Scripts, Networks, and (Transnational) Markets

Session 4 - Regulating and Controlling Organised Crime


Part B – Serious and Organised Crimes ‘in Practice’ (research-led)

Session 5 – Drugs and Cryptomarkets

Session 6 - Modern Slavery and the illegal movement of people

Session 7 - Organised police corruption

Session 8 – Cybercrime

Session 9 – Illicit Financial Flows and Money Laundering

Session 10 – Revisiting Key Themes



  1. Engage students with debates concerning contemporary organised and serious crimes and their nature, organisation, causes and control.
  2. Introduce students to analytical debates shifting focus away from the preoccupation with the abstract concept of ‘organised crime’ and towards understanding how crimes are organised over time and space, by whom, and under which conditions.
  3. Provide students with state of the art research materials on the concept of organising crime in relation to serious offences for gain.
  4. Provide students with the opportunity to consider critically how the concept of organised crime is utilised as a means of defining policy and intervention at the national and international levels with reference to case studies.

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.

Knowledge and understanding

Understand the debates concerning organised crime

Demonstrate a critical understanding of organised crime

Demonstrate a critical understanding of official responses to issues of organised crime and migration

Intellectual skills

Develop a coherent argument in relation to the main areas of study Independence of thought and the ability to critically appraise the quality of one's own reasoning;

Practical skills

Effective use of literature and the use of appropriate referencing / bibliography in essays

Clear and accurate use of language with appropriate grammar / punctuation / spelling

Transferable skills and personal qualities

A number of personal and transferable skills will be developed including independent learning skills, time management skills, and critical analytical skills. Students will be required to work co-operatively in order to maximise their learning

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%

Formative assessment

Students will be given the opportunity to submit an essay plan (max 1 page of A4, normal font and spacing) on which they will receive written feedback as well as the option of attending a one to one session to discuss the feedback.


Summative assessment

The summative assessment consists of two components.

  1. Blog post (20%)

All students are required to submit a blog post of a maximum of 1000 words. The post will be structured around an analysis of government policy in a relevant area. The blog is to be submitted by 1600 on the TBC.

  1. Essay (80%)

All students are required to submit a 3000-word essay. The essay must include the following;

Students can choose any area of organised crime activity. Students must include the following in their analysis of their chosen topic area:

- Key features of the activity and any relevant conceptual or definitional issues

- A critical analysis of the organisation of the chosen activity (including people (perpetrators and victims), markets, networks, impact)

- How the problem is understood by law enforcement agencies and professionals and the responses that are used to ‘combat’ the crime/activity

Recommended reading

Reading recommendations will be given at the start of the course.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicholas Lord Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course is available to final year students only

Restricted to: BA (Criminology), BA (Econ) (all pathways), BA Social Sciences (BASS) and LLB (Law with Criminology) students.

Pre-requisites: It is desirable for students to have taken 20 credits of any level 1 Criminology module

Timetable See SoSS timetable

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