BASS Sociology and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Explaining Crime and Deviance

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM20412
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


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 border criminology; (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 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.

Employability skills

(i) analyse, critique and(re-)formulate a problem or issue; (ii) plan, structure and present arguments in a variety of written formats, to a strict word limit, iii) express ideas verbally and work effectively in small teams for a variety of written and oral tasks; (iv) obtain, manipulate and (re-)present different forms of data; (iv) reflect on and improve performance through feedback. (v) understand the difference between writing for policymakers and academic audiences.

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 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

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 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.

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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