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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Theoretical Criminology (LAWS11058)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe aim of this course is to assist students in thinking theoretically about crime, criminal justice and social control, focusing in particular on the articulation between theoretical constructs, research strategies and claims to knowledge. We thus seek to provide clarification of the ways in which the theoretical resources of the social sciences can be brought to bear upon the phenomena of crime and criminality, their occurrence and distribution, and their contested character.

This course is particularly suitable for students who are interested in learning more about the causes of crime and why societies (including the public, politicians and the media) respond to crime the way they do.

Students from this course go on to a variety of different careers, including as lawyers (especially, but not exclusively, with a focus on crime and justice), police, criminal justice, the charitable/voluntary/welfare sector, criminology researchers and doctoral programmes in Criminology.
Course description The course considers certain key dimensions within the field of criminology, broadly understood - the interpretation of action in context; the structuring of the field by inequalities and hierarchies of various kinds; issues of institutional continuity and change; and questions of cross-cultural and transnational variation, comparison and convergence. We then look at the application of these perspectives in, for example, understanding the place of crime in contemporary urban experience; at the representation of crime and justice in mass media and political culture; and at specific examples of current problems of security and social regulation. By the end of the course students should have gained a greater understanding of the historical and contemporary scope and aims of criminological theory and its relations with other species of social scientific thinking. Our primary objectives are to enable students to address theoretical claims in a critical and reflective manner and to deploy concepts in the development of their own research work.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay.
Feedback One early-semester opportunity to submit a short essay on a specified question. Written feedback will be provided - focusing on the academic content of the answer and on structure, referencing and writing style - around release of essay titles for the summative assessment which will be discussed in class alongside a 'Criminology essay writing guide' posted to Learn
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop their knowledge and critical understanding of key theoretical perspectives on crime, criminal justice and social control within the field of criminology broadly defined
  2. Apply theoretical perspectives on crime, justice and social control to contemporary social issues, policy debates and criminal justice practices
  3. Exercise critical judgement in relation to the claims to knowledge that are explicit or implicit within different theoretical perspectives (thus connecting theory with empirical research and methodology)
  4. Communicate clearly (in class discussions and individual written assignments) about complex theoretical ideas showing understanding of their importance to thinking critically about contemporary crime, criminal justice and social control
  5. Work independently in researching and writing an academically referenced piece of work that critically engages with theory and its role in making sense of crime, criminal justice and social control
Reading List
Loader, I. and Sparks, R. (2012), 'Situating criminology', in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bosworth, M. and Hoyle, C. (eds) (2011), What is Criminology? Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapters 3, 18, 20 and 21 in particular.

In terms of preparatory reading, there are many different textbooks on theoretical criminology (or criminological theory as it is also known). Rather than try to read any of them cover-to-cover, it is best to find a recent one in your university or local library, and read any one chapter that catches your eye. This should give you an initial idea as to the nature of the field and the kind of issues, reasoning and evidence that are used.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Development of critical thinking and exercising judgement in weighing up qualitative and quantitative evidence in evaluating different perspectives.

2. Development of ability to apply abstract theory to concrete everyday issues and scenarios in order to think about testing and developing theoretical perspectives.

3. Development of oral and written presentation skills and an ability to engage with a diverse group of peers.

4. Development of abilities to independently conduct (using library and electronic research resources as required) and write-up academic research showing originality, coherence and a balanced use of appropriate evidence.
Keywordstheoretical criminology,theory,criminology,criminal justice,social control,claims to know
Course organiserProf Richard Sparks
Tel: (0131 6)50 2059
Course secretaryMs Florence Finlayson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9588
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