Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module SOCI1391: Introduction to Criminological Theory

Department: Sociology

SOCI1391: Introduction to Criminological Theory

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To stimulate students' interest in, and enthusiasm for, the sociological study of crime and deviance.
  • To encourage students to think sociologically about issues of crime, deviance and associated concepts.
  • To introduce students to the vast range of subjects that can be covered within criminology and the ways that sociologists and criminologists approach the study of crime and deviance through a detailed examination of four classic, empirically-based studies relating to crime and deviance.
  • To introduce students to major theoretical perspectives in criminology, up to and including New Deviancy Theory.


  • Study of four classic monographs: Folk Devils and Moral Panics; Tearoom Trade; Criminal Women; Outsiders (NB: the specific texts may change year by year, depending on student numbers and staffing)
  • Major theoretical perspectives: The Classical School and early positivism; Durkheim, positivism and anomie; the Chicago School, social disorganisation and differential association; Bonger and the political economy; Mertonian structural functionalism; Hirschi and control theory, subcultures and delinquency; symbolic interactionism and the study of deviance; Becker and labelling theory.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Good knowledge of the four chosen monographs and an informed understanding of the research methodologies, theoretical frameworks and overall conclusions associated with them.
  • Familiarity, at an introductory level, with the conceptual language of sociology, especially when applied to the study of crime and deviance.
  • An appreciation of the ways in which the work of classical theorists in sociology may be drawn on to further an understanding and explanation of crime and deviance.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the broad contours of criminological theorising and its historical context.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Appropriate competency in terms of formulating sociological arguments and communicating ideas in writing.
  • Evidence of thinking sociologically about crime and deviance.
Key Skills:
  • A good basic ability to plan workloads and manage their time.
  • Basic IT skills relating to the production of summative essays.
  • An ability to reference written work in an appropriate manner.
  • Competency in engaging in library searches.
  • An ability to evaluate and interpret information and evidence to a good, basic standard.

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

  • During periods of online teaching, for asynchronous lectures in particular, planned lecture hours may include activities that would normally have taken place within the lecture itself had it been taught face-to-face in a lecture room, and/or those necessary to adapt the teaching and learning materials effectively to online learning.
  • Lectures: weekly lectures will introduce students to basic concepts and map out the basic contours of this module. The lecture series is divided into two parts: one part focuses on the four classic research monographs whilst the other part focuses on criminological theory.
  • Seminars: fortnightly seminars allow tutors to explore in more detail themes and issues arising from lectures and associated reading. Half of the seminars will focus on the four classic texts and the methodological issues that arise and half of the seminars will focus on criminological theories.
  • A group formative assignment provides an opportunity to examine topics covered in Term 1 and give the students vital experience in learning how to analyse, critically read and write about crime and deviance using the conceptual language of sociology.
  • The summative assignment will take the form of a written essay, which enables students to demonstrate their achievement and understanding of a specific topic in depth and to construct a systematic discussion within word-limited constraints.
  • A summative take-home examination tests the range, depth and sophistication of a students' knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, together with the ability to argue coherently and to communicate effectively when writing within time constraints.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment 1500 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take-Home Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Compulsory 2000 word group work book review.

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