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Module SXY-4015:
Key Issues in Criminology

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Stefan Machura

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to provide specialist training in criminology and criminal justice and deals mainly with topics not covered in the modules SXY4010 Transnational Crime and SXY400 Comparative and International Criminal Justice. This may include crimes that are relevant especially for the UK and Wales, e.g. rural crime and policing, Modern Slavery, driving offences, but also lessons that can be learnt from crime and the responses to it in other jurisdictions, e.g. how police corruption is dealt with and how lay participation in the administration of justice is organized. The module introduces selected contemporary theories of and emerging perspectives on crime and the responses to crime by the public, the media, political institutions, police and the courts. Concepts that will be explored include status recognition, imprudent behaviour and risk, procedural justice, and anomie. The module is taught over one semester and draws upon generic socio-legal research skills and knowledge and applies them to the selected topics. The choice of topics will take into account the interests of staff and students.

Course content

The module will discuss key issues of criminology related to aspect such as: - The relation between citizens and police - The role of media in shaping public understanding of crime and legal institutions, or professions - The reaction of the public on newly defined crimes, such as "modern slavery" - The cooperation of statutory and voluntary sector in preventing and addressing crime, e.g. on the field of safeguarding children - Offences committed by "normal citizens", such as drink driving and driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Assessment Criteria


60-69% Good students should be able to explain with accuracy and critically discuss the appropriate theoretical and empirical issues of the substantive topic and locate these within a wider criminological context. Good students should show evidence of consulting a range of complex material and a good understanding of the topic.


50-59% Students should be able to describe, evaluate and analyse the substantive topic/s and present written work that is generally comprehensible and focuses on the question asked. They should show a basic understanding of the topic.


70%+ Excellent students should be able to engage in critical analysis of a wide and complex range of material and summarise the arguments with accuracy; relate an understanding of key concepts to perspectives within and beyond the discipline of criminology and criminal justice. They should present work of a high level of accuracy and fluency, and that shows an excellent understanding of the topic.

Learning outcomes

  1. Be able to confidently present a criminological topic.

  2. Analyse and critically assess the definition of crimes, their social causes and consequences and the reaction by citizens and state authorities alike.

  3. Assess positive and negative aspects of policies aiming to address crime.

  4. Apply criminological theory to empirical phenomena and critically assess their explanatory power.

  5. Convincingly discuss a criminological topic in written form.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Power point or poster presentation 50
Written assignment 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

  1. Lectures, 1 hour each, over 4 weeks

Workshops, 1 hour each, over 4 weeks


Seminars, 2 hours each, over 8 weeks

Private study

Students prepare for the module and the assignments by using the literature suggested and finding information on their own.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Critically evaluate the mixed economy of welfare and the interrelationships between health and social care and between the agencies, practitioners and individuals involved in their provision;
  • Capacity to identify and describe the causes and consequences of social order and change in specific contexts.
  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • Appreciate a range of research designs and strategies and how they may be applied to sociological investigations.
  • Competence to carry out a piece of sociological research using either primary or secondary data, or both.
  • Be able to recognize how social data and sociological knowledge apply to questions of public policy.
  • Use the theories and concepts of social policy and other social sciences to analyse policy problems and issues
  • Undertake either on their own, or in collaboration with others, investigations of social questions, issues and problems, using statistical and other data derived from research publications.
  • Analyse and discuss social policy and related issues distinguishing between normative and empirical questions
  • The ability to identify criminological problems, formulate questions and investigate them
  • Competence in using criminological theory and concepts to understand crime, victimisation, responses to crime and deviance; and representations of crime, victimisation, and responses to these, as presented in the traditional and new media and official reports
  • The capacity to analyse, assess and communicate empirical information about crime, victimisation, responses to crime and deviance, and representations of crime
  • The ability to recognise a range of ethical problems associated with research and to take action in accordance with the guidelines of ethical practice developed by the British Society of Criminology and cognate professional bodies
  • The ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems; and the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.
  • Appreciate philosophical, ethical and methodological issues in criminological and legal research.
  • Appreciate the inter-relationships between criminological and legal theories, criminological and legal research, and policies of key institutions.


Reading list

Brookman, Fiona, Maguire, Mike, Pierpoint, Harriet, and Bennett, Trevor (eds., 2010), Handbook on Crime, Callompton: Willan. Maguire, Mike, Morgan, Rod, and Reiner, Robert (eds., 2012), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 4th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press. McLaughlin, Eugene, and John Muncie (eds., 2013). The SAGE Dictionary of Criminology. 3rd ed., London: Sage. Muncie, John, and Goldson, Barry (eds., 2006). Comparative Youth Justice. London: Sage. Wahl, Anthony et al. (eds., forthcoming). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, several volumes, online:, last accessed 14 October 2016.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: