BASS Social Anthropology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2022

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


This course explores the many ways in which academic criminologists - and their colleagues in the social and psychological sciences - have tried to explain the non-random distribution of crime in society.

Indicative content: (1) What is theory for?; (2) Urbanisation; (3) Strain, control and the reasoning criminal; (4) Labelling and reintegration; (5) Ideology, social control and state crime; (6) Left realism and cultural criminology; (7) Feminism, gender and the masculinities turn; (8) Lifecourse, desistance and the psychosocial; (9) Globalisation and the new governance; (10) Public criminology and the good society.


The unit aims to (1) introduce students to different theoretical approaches to explaining crime and deviance; (2) promote critical engagement with that theory; (3) locate crime and deviance within a wider social, legal and policy context

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to: (1) differentiate between key theoretical perspectives to crime and grasp their (often common) origins; (2) understand the relationships between these theoretical perspectives, the ways in which crime is constructed politically in popular culture, and the policy ‘solutions’ that tend to follow from them; (3) Critically evaluate the level of fit between theoretical concepts and data about crime and deviance; (4) outline the strengths and limitations of key criminological theories.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching in academic year 21/22 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 subject hour used for a range of exercises and activities; (2) high quality learning materials; (3) a tutorial; (4) 1:1 support via a subject-specific contact hour.

Employability skills

(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

This unit is summatively assessed by a 1000-word policy briefing (worth 20% of the mark) and 2000-word essay (worth 80%).

Feedback methods

Formative feedback (both individual and collective) will be given on (1) on tasks and contribution in class, (2) essay plans.

Recommended reading

Lilly, J., Cullen, F. and Ball, R. (2019) Criminological Theory: Context & Consequences.(7th edition), London: Sage.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 13
Independent study hours
Independent study 40

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Gadd Unit coordinator

Additional notes

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 12-13 hours of study per week consisting of (i) timetabled teacher-led hours, (ii) preparation, required and further reading.

Restricted to: LLB (Law with Criminology) if not choosing LAWS20692 or LAWS20452. BA Crim. Students within Humanities.

This course is available to incoming study abroad students university wide.
Pre-requisites: None.

See Law School timetable


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