Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SOCI40530: Criminology: Theory and Critical Issues

Department: Sociology

SOCI40530: Criminology: Theory and Critical Issues

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


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


  • The module delivers an advanced understanding of key theoretical ideas and debates and applied/policy issues in relation to crime and criminal justice.
  • The module covers key theoretical perspectives in criminology and criminal justice. We then apply theories of crime and justice to a range of topical issues (according to staff expertise) including: gender, crime and justice; policing, prisons and punishment; sexual violence and abuse; youth justice; human rights; border crime and transnational justice; cyber-crime, nightlife and alcohol-related violence, forensics.
  • The module forefronts critical perspectives in criminology and their application to a range of critical issues in criminology and criminal justice.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate a reflective and critical understanding of theories of crime and criminal justice, and how to apply a theory to a range of critical issues in crime and criminal justice.
  • Demonstrate a robust and rigorous understanding of how key objects of knowledge within criminology (such as 'crime', 'criminal behaviour', 'crime control' and 'harms') 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 local, national, and global 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 focusing 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 presentations are moderated by a member of staff who will sit in on the presentations. If this is not possible for any reason, presentations will be video-recorded and moderation will take place after the event.
  • The essay 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: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One Essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One oral seminar presentation 8-10 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