Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module SOCI41030: Cybercrime and Cyberculture

Department: Sociology

SOCI41030: Cybercrime and Cyberculture

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module will focus critical attention on how crime and culture relate and are transformed in the information age, promote a critical understanding of the three different types of cybercrime, to question such classification and the meaning of such cultural transgression. Students will discuss critically the role of law and other forms of regulation (including policing) within the framework of a culture of control and of attempts to control culture. Media representation of cybercrime, and the role of new media in redefining the meaning of media and culture will also be examined. Students will be required to demonstrate the capacity to find and interpret a range of contemporary academic and non-academic evidence and claims making, and to use this evidence and argument to engage with questions concerning how law relates to culture in the domain of digital content and global networks.


  • This module askes what are cybercrimes and what do we know about them? How do we understand them? What is the role of media, and new media in particular, in reframing crime and culture? How have networked technologies changed opportunities for criminal activity? The transformation of criminal activity in cyberspace: i) crimes against the machine (e.g., Hacking) ii) crimes using the machine (e.g., frauds) iii) Crimes in the machine (e.g. pornography and hate crime). What is the relationship between, crime, deviance, transgression and creativity? How is cyberspace policed and by whom? Policing online behaviour to maintain order and law on the cyberbeat and the wider political and cultural sense of order. How are cybercrimes to be regulated and prevented at the same time as encouraging creativity by new and effective means of distributed communications?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A critical knowledge and critical understanding of the ways in which criminological perspectives can be applied to the study of crime in the information age.
  • A critical knowledge and understanding of major theoretical work on the three types of cybercrime.
  • A critical appreciation of the complex methodological problems and ethical issues involved in researching crime in the information age.
  • Critical knowledge and understanding of the nature and role of media representations of crime in the information age.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critically evaluate relevant criminological arguments and evidence.
  • Formulate criminology informed questions with specific reference to relevant issues and debates pertaining to specific forms of cybercrime.
  • Employ abstract criminological concepts and use these concepts to express an understanding of specific forms of crime in the information age.
Key Skills:
  • A critical ability to gather appropriate information about the subject area from a range of different online and offline sources
  • An understanding of the nature and relative value of those sources
  • An ability to construct systematic and coherent written arguments within this new subfield of criminology

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

  • Twenty one one hour weekly lectures will provide the framework within which to explore crime in the information age and the three cybercrime areas.
  • Twenty one hour seminars will provide an opportunity for seminar tutors to work with small groups, exploring in greater depth, and collectively, themes and issues arising from the lectures and associated reading. A proportion of seminars will be structured around student presentations. For these, students will work beforehand in twos/threes on a topic congruent with the learning outcomes for this module, as indicated in the Module Programme.
  • Summative: two summative essays will enable students to demonstrate their achievement and understanding of a specific topic in depth and to construct a systematic discussion within word-limited constraints.
  • The formative assignment will consist of a short essay engaging the general claim that digital networks increase crime. This claim is hotly contested, and this formative exercise will allow students to engage the arguments for and against the claim. This broad brush account is useful as it will allow students to engage with and deliberate on widespread and yet divergent views. This formative exercise is preparation for a more focused first summative assignment which will require students to take a more detailed look at a particular form of criminality – such as fraud, hacking, hate-speech, terrorism, obscene material, intellectual property ‘theft’, stalking, abuse and grooming in relation to the question of whether digital networks are more or less safe than ‘real life’. The second summative then builds on both the formative and first summative, but asking students to address the relationship between new forms of criminality and new forms of culture and interaction online.’
  • Dedicated time will be made available for students to discuss their formative assignment feedback with a view to identifying strengths, limits and strategies for improvement.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 weekly 1 hour 21
Seminars 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 259
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 1 3000 50%
Summative Essay 2 3000 50%

Formative Assessment:

Short Essay engaging the general claim that digital networks increase crime (1000-1500 words)

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