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SP10338: Critical reading in criminology

[Page last updated: 15 October 2020]

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2020/1
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 1
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: ES 100%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • 20% Journal (ES 20%)
  • 80% Book Review (ES 80%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
SP10338 - 100% Reassessemnt (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Description: Aims:
This unit aims to:
* Introduce students to classic and/or path-breaking texts in criminology and encourage them to think critically about the existence of a criminological 'canon'.
* Equip students with a set of skills that enable them to read criminological texts carefully and critically.
* Foster an understanding of the context in which criminological texts are written and published (biographical, social/cultural, political and economic).
* Develop students' knowledge base in criminology and foster an understanding of the connections between empirical evidence and theoretical explanations.

Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of the unit students will be able to:
* Give an in-depth, critical account of key criminological texts
* Appreciate that there is a range of different theoretical, conceptual, and methodological approaches in criminology, and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses
* Develop an understanding of the breadth of topics that form the foci in criminology
* Start to understand and be able to discuss the differences in epistemological, theoretical, and evidential bases for different approaches in criminology.

The unit will foster the following intellectual skills:
* an understanding of how criminologists draw on/synthesise evidence to make an argument or develop a theory
* an ability to assess the merits and appropriateness of different explanations for crime, deviance, and victimisation
* an ability to recognise how key works of criminology develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement.
The unit will foster the following professional/practical skills:
* an appreciation of how criminologists apply different methods of analysis to a range of problems and to critically reflect on different approaches
* good written and oral communication skills, both individually and in group environments.
The unit will foster the following transferable/key skills:
* the ability to recognise the features of a well-presented, coherent argument and be able to develop a reasoned critique
* the ability to marshal evidence and theory to support or challenge an argument in such a way as to demonstrate a critical awareness of the origin and bases of knowledge
* the ability to work and communicate as individuals
* skills in working and communicating effectively as a team
* skills in information technology
* critical and analytical skills.

The unit will take students through five classical criminological texts written in a range of national contexts. The aim is for students to read each of these texts carefully and critically. The lecture series will introduce each criminological thinker, the context in which the key text was written and published, sketch out its theoretical/conceptual/methodological bases, and outline the critical reception to the text in question. Students will be introduced to ideas about a criminological 'canon' and oeuvre, key points of debate that have come to define criminology, and prominent theoretical approaches to criminology. Seminars will serve as guided reading groups. Here, students will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the texts, recognise differences in argumentation and theoretical/methodological approach, and develop their skills of close reading.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

SP10338 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2020/21 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2021/22 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2020/21.
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