CR4001 - Explaining Crime

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What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will be introduced definitions of crime, a selection of crime types and to a wide range of explanations and theories about why people commit crime. The module will critically explore and reflect upon a wide range of historical and contemporary classical, biological, psychological and sociological explanations of crime We will explore how the theories covered influence criminal justice policy and practice and the implications of these policies and practices. We will explore the evidence base associated with the theories explored. Weekly lectures and seminars will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to introduce you to theories and to understand their strengths, limitations and impacts in relation to how we understand crime and the criminal justice system.. Theories covered will include classical theory, rational actor theories, biological positivism, psychological positivism, sociological positivism, feminist theories of crime, labelling theory, conflict and radical theories, critical criminology, environmental theories, situational action theories, left realism, right realism, explanations for environmental crime/harm and desistence theories. We will explore the differences, commonalities and dynamic nature of these various explanations for crime. The lectures and seminars, combined with your own independent study, will enable you undertake the assessments this module which are an individual essay and an individual multiple choice exam.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will be delivered using a combination of lectures, seminar activities and academic tutorials. You are also required to do a good deal of directed and independent study: Directed learning generally will take the form of preparation for seminars (including both reading and written work) either individually or in small groups. Independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and investigation of sources, the consolidation of lecture and seminar materials, and revision/preparation for the various types of assessment included in the unit. Students must come prepared to actively engage in informed (through reading) discussions in your seminar groups.
At level four, the primary emphasis will be on the development of foundational knowledge, that is, understanding and skills in ‘description’. Within the module you will develop both generic and subject specific skills including: subject specific knowledge; independent learning, exam preparation; essay writing skills; bibliographic and referencing skills; reflective skills; research skills; time management; and IT Skills. Your independent learning will be facilitated by an online reading list and additional resources available on the module’s blackboard site.
You are at the beginning of your studies and this is a level four (year 1) module. Consistent with this, the primary emphasis in your assignments should be on demonstrating descriptive knowledge, while showing that you are working towards a more evaluative approach.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Developing your ability to research, understand and describe the fundamental features various criminological theory is central to this module. In this regard, it will enable you to challenge and question your understanding of the causes of crime, critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and identify the policy and practice implications associated with each theory. In addition to your intellectual development, you will receive support from your peers in the classroom and from the module tutors throughout the module. You will also be able to ask your seminar tutor for information, advice and guidance about the module and assessments if required via email or in person. In certain circumstances, based on an assessment of your needs, it is possible for you to have longer to complete your assessments.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1.To understand definitions of crime and processes underpinning these definitions.
2. To identify and explain key arguments relating to a range of classical, biological, psychological and sociological explanations of crime.
3.. To situate the study of crime and criminology within the theoretical frameworks.
4. To show an understanding of some key theoretical perspectives and to studying crime and criminology.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
5.. To work independently to research, analyse, and present discussions about particular about criminological theories and their application.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
6. To have confidence in your own thinking and assessment criminological theory and also to be open to challenge and debate around these theories and their application.

How will I be assessed?

The seminar programme will support the formative assessment for this module. Student groups will research and discuss different theories and consider how effectively these theories have and can be applied in the real world..

Two assignments will form the summative assessment for this module.
1. The essay will assess learning outcomes 1, 2, 4 and 5 (50%). (1,2,3,4,5,6)
2. The mulitiple choice exam outcomes (50%). (,2,3,4 5,6)

Feedback will be provided within the required timescales. All students will be given an indication of how their work could be improved and additional generic feedback will be provided via blackboard.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code C8M9

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full time/4 years full time with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

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