BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Transnational Organised Crime

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM30811
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Countering organised crime has been accorded high priority by many states and intergovernmental bodies, however, the concept is ill-defined and often subject to clichéd, analytically weak discourse. This course reframes the debate to think in terms of how serious crimes are organised. We analyse the nature and organisation of criminal activities (i.e., the crime commission process) such as modern slavery, drug trafficking, alcohol counterfeiting, and money laundering.

Think about how the actors involved cooperate and work together to accomplish h their goals (i.e. how their networks are socially organised). In this sense, we consider how the criminal behaviours of groups of illicit actors are shaped by wider social conditions.

Indicative content: (1) Introduction to the course and issues in defining and explaining organised crime; (2) The organisation of serious crimes for gain; (3) Offending & victimisation explained; (3) Organising serious crimes for gain; (4) Regulating and controlling organised crime; (5) Cigarettes and Alcohol; Drugs and cryptomarkets; (6) Modern slavery and the illegal movement of people; (7) Serious and organised crime in cyberspace and the role of digital technologies in illegal markets Organised criminal networks; (8) Italian mafia-type associations: structure, social organisation and transplantation around the world; Cybercrime; (9) The cocaine market and organised crime: key features and financial management Illicit financial flows; (10) Course summary and assignment support. Revisiting key themes.


This course unit aims to (1) Engage students with debates concerning contemporary organised and serious crimess 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 mean of defining policy and interventions at the national and international level with reference to case studies.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to (1) understand the academic and policy debates concerning organised crime, (2) demonstrate a critical understanding of organised crime and associated issues, (3) demonstrate a critical understanding of (inter/trans-national) state and non-state responses to organised crime.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning across course units consists of: (1) preparatory work to be completed prior to teaching sessions, including readings, pre-recorded subject material and online activities; (2) a weekly whole-class lecture or workshop; (3) a tutorial; and (4) one-to-one support via subject specific office hours.

Knowledge and understanding

  • understand the academic and policy debates concerning organised crime;
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of organised crime and associated issues;
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of (inter/trans-national) state and non-state responses to organised crime;

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

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

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) developing essay plans. Detailed summative feedback will be given on the submitted essay via Blackboard (Grademark) during tutorials in week 10.

Recommended reading

Chapter 20 on ‘Organised Crime’ in Newburn, T. (2017) Criminology, 3rd Ed. Abingdon: Routledge pp. 431-462.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Fiamma Terenghi Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of around 30-35 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands around 10-11 hours of study per week consisting of (i) 3 timetabled teacher-led hours, (ii) 7-8 independent study hours devoted to preparation, required and further reading, and note taking.

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.

This course is also available to incoming study abroad students university wide.

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

Criminology module


Please refer to your personalised Criminology timetable    

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