Theories of Crime - SO869

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 20 (10)







In the late modern period we are presented with an extraordinary wealth of criminological theory. Past and present paradigms proliferate and prosper. This course examines these theories, placing them in the context of the massive social transformations that have taken place in the last thirty years. It is not concerned so much with abstract theory as criminological ideas, which arise in particular contexts. It aims, therefore, to situate theories in contemporary debates and controversies and allows students to fully utilize theoretical insights in their criminological work. In particular we will introduce the current debates surrounding cultural criminology, the debate over quantitative methods and the emergence of a critical criminology.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

This module runs weekly over ten weeks and includes two intensive teaching sessions. These intensive sessions are taught in two blocks of four lectures. In between they will be supplemented by a series of specialist classes. There is a Facebook page to accompany this course – Jock’s Theoretical Criminology – here you will find articles, links to important sites and blogs and announcements.



Method of assessment

1. One essay of 5000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography).

Indicative reading

An extensive list of readings is included in order to provide students with a guide to the literature. The essential readings are indicated by an asterisk (*).


The most useful reader in criminology theory is:
Muncie, J; McLaughlin, E and Langan, M (eds), 2002, Criminological Perspectives: A Reader, (2nd ed.) London: Sage.
The two most relevant journals are Theoretical Criminology and Punishment and Society.


* Downes D and Rock P (2007) Understanding Deviance (5th ed.). Clarendon Press
* Newburn T. (2007) Criminology Cullompton: Willan
* Young, J, Thinking Seriously About Crime. (website)
Maguire, M, Morgan, R and Reiner, R (eds) (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (4th ed.), Oxford: Clarendon. (But see also earlier editions where relevant, 2nd ed. (1997) and 3rd ed. (2002))
Hale, C., Hayward, K., Wahidin, A. and Wincup, E (2005) Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Mooney, J. (2000) Gender, Violence and the Social Order. London: Macmillan
* Muncie J, McLaughlin E and Langan M, eds, 1996, 2002, Criminological Perspectives: A Reader. London: Sage
Lea J and Young J, 1993, What is to be Done About Law and Order?, London: Pluto
Walklate S. (1995) Gender and Crime. Harvester Wheatsheaf
Taylor I, Walton P and Young J, 1973, The New Criminology, Routledge and Kegan Paul
Vold G.B., T. Bernard and J. Snipes (2002) Theoretical Criminology. Oxford University Press
Currie E. (1985) Confronting Crime. Pantheon.
Lilly, J., F. Cullen and R. Ball (1989) Criminological Theory. Sage

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module successful students will:

*Have an advanced knowledge of contemporary debates in theoretical criminology and criminal justice;
*Analyse and critique the notions of crime and justice in a variety of different social contexts;
*Critically evaluate the social, political and cultural dimensions of crime from both a contemporary and a historical perspective;
*Understand current debates surrounding critical ethnography;
*Understand at an advanced level the relationship between social exclusion and crime;
*Have gained a detailed knowledge of the key historical and contemporary theories of violence;
*Explore the theoretical foundations and most recent interpretations associated with ‘cultural criminology

Key Skills:

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

*Demonstrate skills commensurate with postgraduate study in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in utilization of research and empirical data (in relation to Key Skills 1 and 4);
*Be able to synthesis complex theoretical items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry (in relation to Key Skills 5 and 6);
*Be able to gather library and web-based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical judgments about their merits and use the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally or in writing (in relation to Key Skills 1, 3 and 6)

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