Badges: 11
Report Thread starter 2 years ago
Hey, basically I have to write my first criminology essay on the differences between the classical school of criminology & one of the theories of the positivist school (I've chosen the biological one since it seems quite easy to argue against) but the problem is I haven't actually written an essay in nearly 5 years, it's too complicated to explain why, but anyway I'm panicking because I just don't know how to write one? I've done all the research and even made a plan but I just don't know how to write one correctly.. can anyone help explain how to, give me tips or an example?
Would be greatly appreciated !
Badges: 19
Report 2 years ago
Look at examples via a google search. Think about how to use the structure to shape your argument. I tend to do introduction, background, headings for specific points worthy of a few paragraphs, discussion (if more needs adding and if the main points need bringing together), conclusion.
Badges: 5
Report 2 years ago
I remember the feeling of sheer panic when I had to do my first Criminology essay. I got "What is Crime?" (sounds easy, is incredibly vague and hard to answer).

How I would approach it would be (obviously don't copy because it'd be counted as plagiarism, but just an idea):

- Intro - brief description of the two schools of thought. So you'll want to say something like "During the development of modern-day criminology, both Classical theories and Positivist theories have played an important role. The Classical school of thought revolves around ideas of Rational Choice Theory, and tends to view the decision to commit crime in terms of economics and utilitarianism - the offender decides the benefits outweigh the costs. Other central ideas are the need for symbolic and visible punishment, which acts as a deterrent (then do your citations). *Pick which positivist theory you want to focus on*

Positivist theory followed on from Classical criminological theories and tended to be more innovative, using actual scientific methods to try and predict/differentiate the criminal from the non-criminal. This is due to a shift in paradigm meaning that criminologists sought to gain knowledge by using scientific method, to find an objective truth. (Comment on brief differences between the two).

- Classical school of thought -
- Rational choice theory
- Utilitarianism
- Symbolic punishments act as a deterrent, but according to Beccaria, must be proportionate to the crime (a value we still rely on now - just desserts theory)
- Policy implications: Harsher system of punishment, ignores need to ease poor social conditions. Total responsibility on the offender. Capital punishment used as deterrence.

- Social Positivism
- reject Classical theory for relying on free-will. Blamed society for the social ills that pushed people further into crime. Deterministic.
- Factors such as poor education, poverty, upbringing etc, are to blame. Easing these conditions should reduce crime.
- Links to distribution of wealth, population density.
- Quetelet used scientific method to gain insight to this - used statistical analysis. Empirical methods and ethnography also used.
- Lochner - education reduces likelihood to commit crime.
- Policy implications: more rehabilitative model of punishment - easing poverty to try and reduce conditions leading to crime.

Basically, classical theory = criminals choose to commit crime. They make a calculated decision to do so. Ignores their surroundings/life stories. Popular with Right Wing theorists.
Social Positivism = society and criminogenic factors push people into crime - their actions are a product of their environment to a large degree. Critiqued for absolving the individual of blame.

DM me if you wanna ask anything else

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
new posts
to top
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.


University open days

  • University of East Anglia
    PGCE Open day Postgraduate
    Tue, 3 Mar '20
  • University of Bradford
    Postgraduate Open day/Evening Postgraduate
    Tue, 3 Mar '20
  • Queen's University Belfast
    Postgraduate LIVE Masters & PhD Study Fair Postgraduate
    Wed, 4 Mar '20

Do you get study leave?

Yes- I like it (499)
Yes- I don't like it (43)
No- I want it (237)
No- I don't want it (56)

Watched Threads

View All
My Feed