• Criminology FAQ - for those who wish to apply to study criminology at university

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Why study criminology?

Ever thought why different people commit different crimes? Why do paedophiles commit crime? Why does America have a higher murder rate than Britain? Does the British Crime Survey provide a good illustration on the extent of crime? What is fraud and who are the types of people that commit it? Going to university to study criminology can certainly help you to answer some of these questions, while learning about other criminological concepts such as recidivism, desistance, and domestic violence.

Each degree varies in content and it would be a good idea to see which universities are more to your liking. Some universities couple criminology with law, such as Aberystwyth, while others take a more sociological approach, like Durham. This is very important as you will not do very well in topics you don’t enjoy as much. Look for any breakdown of the course and ask a member of staff for any key texts that are taught in the course. Tell them that course content will help you decide to select universities prior to studying and then any titles told to you, can be looked up with Google Books.

For many courses, the first year might have more sociology content than you may like, but as the first year does not count towards your degree classification, it will be better if all the criminology content were in the second and third years as this will be weighted 40% in the second year, 60% in the third. I am at Durham and the modules are stated on the website. Ask what opportunities are there for extra curricular activities which are catered for criminology directly. Some universities may arrange visits to the criminal courts or prisons; and some, may make it part of the syllabus as part of a formal piece of work, such as a formative essay, for example.

Universities who offer Criminology

Many universities teach undergraduate criminology. The most notable are:

  • Aberystwyth
  • Cardiff
  • Durham
  • Edinburgh (although be careful in choosing Scottish universities as legislation is different)
  • Gloucester
  • Hull
  • Keele
  • Kent
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Manchester
  • Wolverhampton
  • Liverpool
  • Sheffield
  • Swansea

As this is a course that is becoming increasingly popular in universities it may be best to browse UCAS for a more comprehensive list.

Universities offering postgraduate criminology include:

  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Hull
  • KCL
  • Kent
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Manchester
  • Oxford
  • Sheffield

My experience of studying at Durham as a first year undergraduate

In the first year I have looked at topics which include: domestic violence, the night-time economy, official statistics, positivism, classicism; and have looked at important scholars such as Bonger, Merton, Sutherland, Durkheim, Simmel and Bentham. Outside of the criminology modules I have had two sociology modules. The first one covered the more abstract concepts such as risk, post-modernity, globalisation and classical sociological thought such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber. The other featured more contemporary issues such as childhood, old age, race and ethnicity, and disability. In the second year we look at policing, which is usually a third year topic, crime and inequalities, researching crime, a double module devoted to social research methods used in criminology, which may help you undertake fieldwork for your dissertation should you choose to. In the third year you will undertake a dissertation which is a double module, issues in contemporary criminological theory, and the sociology of punishment.

Recommended readings

Do not attempt to read all of them. Pick up one you think you would like, see how much coverage is available with the limited preview on Google Books, and read. If you like it that much you could purchase it from Amazon. If you are really keen, choose a themed text, such as Inventing Fear of Crime, and then a research method orientated one, such as Criminological Research. You should be able to develop a further understanding on issues such as surveying (using questionnaires) to respondents and how they react to the questions – do people really fear crime? Are they concerned or merely just aware? Why are older people more fearful of crime when younger people are more victimised than their older counterparts? With that said you may be better off reading criminology theory which is taught in the first year to give students a foundation for the rest of the year – Criminological Perspectives would be a good look here.

  • Matthews, R. (2002) Armed Robbery. Collumpton: Willan.
  • Spalek, B. (2005) Crime Victims. London: Palgrave.
  • Bean S. (2002) Drugs and Crime. Collumpton: Willan.
  • Reiner, R., Maguire, M. and Morgan, R. (2007) Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Newburn, T. (2007) Criminology. Collumpton: Willan.
  • Jewkes, Y. (Ed.) (2006) Crime Online. Collumpton: Willan.
  • Williams, M. (2006) Virtually Criminal. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Hague, G. and Malos, E. (2005) Domestic Violence. Oxford: New Clarion Press.
  • Wall, D.S. (2007) Cybercrime. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Noaks, L. and Wincup, E. (2004) Criminological Research. London: Sage.
  • Jupp, V., Davies, P., and Francis, P. (Eds.) (2000) Doing Criminological Research. London: Sage.
  • McLaughlin, E., Muncie, J. and Hughes, G. (Eds.) (2002) Criminological Perspectives. London: Sage.
  • Crow, I. and Semmens, N. (2007) Researching Criminology. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Green, D.A. (2008) When Children Kill Children: Penal Populism and Political Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Renzetti, C. (1992) Violent Betrayal. London: Sage.
  • Ashworth, A., von Hirsch, A., and Roberts, J. (2009) Principled Sentencing: Readings on Theory and Policy. Oxford: Hart.
  • Goldson, B. and Muncie, J. (2006) Youth Crime and Justice. London: Sage.
  • Lee, M. (2007) Inventing Fear of Crime. Collumpton: Willan.
  • Mawby, R.I. (2001) Burglary. Collumpton: Willan.

There is also the British Society of Criminology website which puts a selected amount of papers presented to their conferences freely online. These are very useful and contain topics which have been at the centre of political discussions. For example, the 2008 issue shows academic thought on cybercrime, computer games, the sex offenders register and the death penalty. There is also a selected chapter in its entirety from the Oxford Handbook of Criminology which is freely available. A online resource which is extremely useful is Simply Criminology, they have countless articles and dedicated members who are there to help students while studying their degree.

You may wish to view more contemporary issues. You can sign up for a free account on Oxford Journals and find some articles of interest in there. I have used this myself and found the following publications were most useful for my formative assignment (literature review):

  • Forsyth, A.J.M. (2008). 'Banning Glassware from Nightclubs in Glasgow (Scotland): Observed Impacts, Compliance and Patron Views', Alcohol and Alcoholism. Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 111-7.
  • Warburton, A.L. and Shepherd, J.P. (2006). 'Tackling alcohol related violence in city centres: effect of emergency medicine and police intervention', Emergency Medicine Journal. Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 12-17.

At the time of writing, Alcohol and Alcoholism also highlight free access publications which may well have implications for policing and social policy. For example the article entitled 'Alcohol Portrayal on Television Affects Actual Drinking Behaviour' by Engels et al (2009) show how media exposure to alcohol can affect consumption, which may lead on to social policy initiatives in government, and then discussed by criminology scholars as a result. Other journal articles which are available elsewhere freely on the internet include:

Chen, M.K. and Shapiro, J.M. (2007) 'Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-based Approach', American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 1-29.

Because criminology is a ‘leech’ subject you will find that sources from other disciplines are used and fused together, such as politics, law, medicine, psychology and sociology. The above articles can help to explain behaviour from the social world; this is especially true with medical journals and the night-time economy (pisshead culture) because of medical interventions deployed.

Here are some freely available research working papers, which may be applicable to the degree you are applying for:

These are not usually cited with academic work, such as writing essays, but they will nevertheless give you an idea of the material that can and is featured, as well as the style used. Being able to read these as someone who has not entered university yet will find this more useful than crime fiction drama, though the latter can act as an interest stimulant as it did with me.

Useful websites

Dedicated Criminology Resource

Criminology Articles, Research, Library, Forum, Reviews and Members - http://www.simplycriminology.com

Corporate and white collar crime

Crime reduction

Home Office crime reduction: http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk
International Centre for Crime Prevention - http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org
Criminal Justice System for England and Wales - http://www.cjsonline.org
Inspection of Court Services - http://www.msci.gov.uk

Domestic Violence

Campaign Against Domestic Violence - http://www.cadv.gov.uk
Crown Prosecution Service - Domestic Violence - http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section3/chapter_c.html

Drugs and Alcohol

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction - http://www.emcdda.eu.int
Home Office Drugs Website - http://www.drugs.gov.uk
Institute for Alcohol Studies - http://www.ias.org.uk
The Centre for Drug Misuse Research - http://www.gla.ac.uk/Inter/DrugMisuse


Human and Civil Rights

Amnesty International - http://www.amnesty.org.uk
Miscarriage of Justice - http://www.mojuk.org.uk
Office of the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Human Rights - http://www.chchr.org/english


Association of Chief Police Officers - http://www.acpo.police.uk
Association of Police Authorities - http://www.apa.police.uk
Criminal Records Bureau - http://www.crb.gov.uk
National Centre Intelligent Service - http://www.ncis.co.uk

Prisons and Probation

Home Office - Probation - http://www.probation.homeoffice.org.uk
Prison and Probation Ombudsman - http://www.ppo.org.uk

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice Consortium - http://www.restorativejustice.org.uk
Restorative Justice Online - http://www.restorativejustice.org


Children’s Right Alliance - http://www.crae.org.uk
National Association for Youth Justice - http://www.nayj.org.uk


National Centre for Victims of Crime - http://www.ncvc.org

Green Criminology


Serious Organised Crime Agency Publications - http://www.soca.gov.uk/assessPublications/index.html
Research Development Statistics - http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/a-zsubjects.html
Joseph Rowntree Foundation - http://www.jrf.org.uk
Social Exclusion Unit - http://www.socialexclusion.org.uk
Criminal Justice weblog - http://www.ukjcweblog.org.uk
Local Government Association - http://www.lga.gov.uk
Parliamentary Publications (general) - http://www.parliament.uk/publications/index.cfm
Searching web publications - http://www.pdf-search-engine.com
Oxford University Department of Politics Working Papers - http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/research/working_papers/
King’s College London Criminal Justice - http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk
Additional links hosted by the University of Oxford - http://www.crim.ox.ac.uk/Links/index.htm
British Society for Criminology - http://www.britsoccrim.org/conferences.htm

Publications online

Various publications with some that are sometimes used by scholars, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others:

Topic Title Hyperlink
Criminology The Online Criminology Resource, which has various articles, forums, research, members and specific book reviews. http://www.simplycriminology.com/
Violent Crime The Boundaries of Drug Assisted Rape: the Findings of a Pilot Study http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume6/003.pdf
Crime Reduction Towards a New Paradigm of Sovereign Power? Community Governance, Preventative Safety and the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume6/004.pdf
Cybercrime Travelling in Cyberspace on a False Passport: Controlling Transnational Identity-related crime http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume5/004.pdf
Deviance Patterns of Deviance Underlying the Age-Crime Curve: The Long Term Evidence http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume7/007.pdf
Community Responsibility, Rhetoric and Reality: Practitioners’ Views on Their Responsibility for Crime and Disorder in the Safety Community Partnerships http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume6/007.pdf
Domestic Violence Enhancing 'safety and justice' - The Role of Specialist Domestic Violence Courts in England and Wales http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume7/008.pdf
Restorative Justice Conferencing as a Response to Youth Crime http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume3/015.pdf
Restorative Justice Handbook on Restorative Justice Programs (UN) http://www.unodc.org/pdf/criminal_justice/06-56290_Ebook.pdf
Drugs Policing cannabis as a class C drug http://jrf.org.uk/bookshop/eBooks/1961-policing-cannabis-classc.pdf
Drugs Neighbourhood Effects on Youth Deliquency and Drug Use http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/cls/esytc/findings/digest10.pdf
Judicial politics Macabbaean Lecture in Jurisprudence political judges and the rule of law http://www.proc.britac.ac.uk/tfiles/148029A/64p259.pdf
Alcohol and the night-time economy Licensing Act 2003 and the effects of alcohol http://www.lgar.local.gov.uk/lgv/aio/73541
Stop & Search Article regarding police stop and search http://www.simplycriminology.com/stop-and-search/
Fraud Friday 13 June 2008 Suspected mail fraud worth £25m raided http://www.soca.gov.uk/assessPublications/downloads/BathMailFraudRaid.pdf
Drugs Police Research Series: Paper 118, Street Business the link between sex and drug markets http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/prgpdfs/fprs125.pdf
Social exclusion and unemployment Unemployment by constituency, May 2008. House of Commons Research Paper 08/54 11th June http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2008/rp08-054.pdf
Serious Crime SOCA Annual Report 2007/2008 http://www.soca.gov.uk/assessPublications/downloads/SOCA_Annual_Report_0708.pdf
General Ten years of criminal justice under Labour - An independent audit http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/opus55/ten-years-of-labour-2007.pdf
General http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume7/005.pdf Whose Justice - Principal drivers of criminal justice policy
Drugs Occasional and Controlled heroin use: Not a problem? http://www.jrf.org.uk/bookshop/eBooks/1859354254.pdf
Drugs Street Policing of Problem Drug Users http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/pdf/2161.pdf
Race Parenting ‘mixed’ children: negotiating difference and belonging in mixed race, ethnicity and faith families http://www.jrf.org.uk/bookshop/eBooks/2231-parenting-children-difference.pdf
Hate crime Hate Crime: Exploring Theories and Practices http://www.iars.org.uk/iars%20papers%20&%20projects/Hate%20Crime-%20Ryan.pdf
Guns ‘Gun crime’ A review of evidence and policy Saturday 28 June 2008 http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/opus713/ccjs_gun_crime_report.pdf
Sentencing Community Sentences Digest http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/structurecommsentence.html
Homicide Sentencing Advisory Panel - causing death by dangerous driving http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/death-by-driving-advice.pdf
Homicide Sentencing Advisory Panel - attitudes of causing death by dangerous driving http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/death-by-driving-attitudes-report.pdf
Violence Sentencing for Assault and other Offences Against the Person http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/Version%20for%20publication%202007-02-16.LD.pdf
Hate Crime IARS Hate Crime Research http://www.iars.org.uk/iars%20papers%20&%20projects/Theo%20papers/ROTA%20Report%20on%20hate%20crime%20&%20RJ%20July%202007%20-%20final.pdf
Domestic Violence Domestic Violence Interventions News Special September 2007 http://www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk/files/pdf/Interventions%20News%20Domestic%20Violence%20Special.pdf
Sentencing Community Sentencing - Reducing re-offending http://www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk/files/pdf/Community%20Sentencing%20Report%20(English).pdf
Sentencing Rehabilitation versus Punishment - Judge for Yourself (National Probation Service) http://www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk/output/Page427.asp
Sentencing Proportionate Sentencing http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-927260-3.pdf
Justice Criminal Cases Review Commission - Report 2006-2007 http://www.ccrc.gov.uk/CCRC_Uploads/CCRC%20Annual%20Report%202006-07.pdf
Fraud City of London - Cheque and Credit Card Fraud Investigation Policy http://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/NR/rdonlyres/3528E395-EDE9-4B8C-A8BA-829C00982E0D/0/chequecreditcardfraudinvestigationFOI.pdf
Law Reform The Law Commission Consultation Paper 177 - A New Homicide Act for England and Wales http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/cp177_web.pdf
Participation in Crime Inchoate Liability for Assisting and Encouraging Crime http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/lc300.pdf
Homicide Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/lc304.pdf
Violent crime Violent Crime Overview, Homicide and Gun Crime 04-05 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hosb0206.pdf
Arms Gun crime by each London borough http://www.mpa.gov.uk/downloads/committees/mpa/mpa-040930-10-appendix02.pdf
Sentencing House of Commons Justice Committee: Towards Effective Sentencing http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmjust/184/184.pdf and


You may also wish to use Google's News feature and type in keywords to browse media coverage of the given topic you are looking at. Today, as I am typing this now (28th June 2009), fraud is back in the spotlight and it might be an idea to see what has been said of the recent events. You will use newspaper articles at university but not at great depth. They are used more for demonstration purposes rather than analytical. For example, in a sociology essay I wrote, I used an article from The Guardian which showed that Germany were considering lowering the voting age to cover infants. This was a recent article when I wrote my essay and it helped show, along with empirical and peer-reviewed journal articles and texts, that different societies view the concept of childhood differently.

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