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:
- Edinburgh (although be careful in choosing Scottish universities as legislation is different)
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:
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.
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:
- Mistaken Sex
- Is Bad Law Still Law? Is Bad Law Really Law?
- Positivism and the Inseparability of Law and Morals
- Grounds of Law and Legal Theory: A Response
- Why Sexual Penetration Requires Justification
- Habeas Corpus and Guantánamo Bay: A View from Abroad
- Criminalising Remote Harm and the Case of Anti-democratic Activity
- Proportionality in Sentencing and the Restorative Justice Paradigm: ‘Just Deserts’ for Victims and Defendants Alike?
- All’s Well that Ends Well? Comments on the ILC’s Articles on State Responsibility
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.
Dedicated Criminology Resource
Corporate and white collar crime
Drugs and Alcohol
Human and Civil Rights
Prisons and Probation
Various publications with some that are sometimes used by scholars, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others:
|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|
|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.
You may download the FAQ in its original format here.
Written by NDGAARONDI.