Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module SOCI40530: Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice

Department: Sociology

SOCI40530: Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to provide students with an advanced education in the application of a range of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of crime and criminal justice.


  • The module delivers an advanced understanding of key theoretical debates and applied/policy issues in relation to theorising crime and criminal justice.
  • The module will then apply theories of crime and justice to a range of topical issues (according to criminological staff expertise) including: gender, crime and justice; policing, prisons and punishment; sex crimes and the criminal justice system; sexual and domestic violence; youth justice; human rights, border crime and trans national justice; technologies of crime control, crime in the information age (cyber-crime).
  • The module articulates criminology’s shifting focus from social theories of ‘deviance’ to various struggles for social justice; the theory and practice of criminal justice, analysis of the contemporary politics and governance of criminal justice at local, national and international levels; analysis of the inter connected and inter dependence of criminal justice and social justice and the differing ways that what constitutes criminal justice and struggles for social justice are shaping the contours of criminology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate a reflective and critical understanding of theories of crime and criminal justice, and how crime and criminal justice are socially and legally constructed.
  • Demonstrate a robust and rigorous understanding of how key objects of knowledge within criminology (such as ‘crime’, ‘criminal behaviour’ and ‘crime control’) are shaped by contemporary national and international issues and debates.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate theories, research and policy.
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of national, international and transnational approaches to crime and criminal justice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to evaluate critically evidence and ideas at the forefront of research and thinking in the subject;
  • Be able to deal with highly complex issues and communicate conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • Demonstrate a high degree of self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems;
  • Be able to acquire subject knowledge and understanding at an advanced level
  • Be able to select an appropriate topic and focus for the assignments, which demonstrates advanced skills of critical analysis, evaluation, ethical practice and conceptual argument
Key Skills:
  • The ability to critically evaluate and synthesise information/evidence obtained from a variety of sources and to communicate relevant information in a variety of ways relative to the specific task
  • Advanced communication skills, particularly in constructing complex empirically informed theoretical arguments.
  • To communicate their own formulations in a clear and accessible way both orally and in writing; be able to respond effectively to others and to reflect on and monitor the use of their communication skills.
  • Effective time-management, working to prescribed deadlines.
  • The ability to engage in different forms of learning, to seek and to use feedback from both peers and academic staff, and to monitor and critically reflect on the learning process.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Two hour workshops that will incorporate staff lectures and student led seminar discussions based around the lectures and pre-allocated reading.
  • Lectures will introduce key theories and concepts and the methodological and practical implications of the theories and concepts to contemporary issues and debates.
  • Seminars will be student led and enable students to evaluate criminological theories and evidence, and to consider what is distinctive about criminological approaches.
  • Students will be encouraged, within seminars, to present complex scholarly work orally in a coherent and accessible manner. Seminars will also include analysis of : the practical application of theories of crime; criminal justice and transnational justice; and the relationship between criminological theory and criminal justice.
  • Independent Study: students will be expected to read in preparation for the weekly workshops and to read widely around different topics, drawing on debates within scholarly journals and research monographs, and develop skills in critically engaging with literature
  • The formative assessment will take the form of individual student presentations focussing upon students' understanding of subject knowledge, theories of criminology and criminal justice. The formative piece allows for students to reflect on their development of subject knowledge. Students receive individual feedback to build upon for their summative assessment.
  • The oral summative assessment will assess both depth of understanding, breadth of knowledge and students ability to synthesize knowledge, construct an argument and communicate this coherently and effectively within an oral seminar presentation.
  • The book review will assess students understanding of a key text, both depth of understanding and breadth of knowledge, as well as their ability to critically evaluate, analyse and communicate this in a clear and accessible way.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 20 weekly 2 40
Preparation and Reading 260
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Book Review Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One book review 3000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One oral seminar presentation 8 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Oral Presentation (visualising criminology)

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University