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Programme & Unit Catalogues

SP10357: Crime and society

[Page last updated: 01 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 12 [equivalent to 24 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 240
Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 20%, PF 80%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework 20% (CW 20% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
  • Portfolio 80% (PF 80% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
Supplementary Assessment:
SP10357A - CW Reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
SP10357A - PF Reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: By the end of this unit students will be able to:
1. Outline and discuss different conceptions of 'crime', and critically evaluate how these different definitions are deployed in policy, politics, and public debate;
2. Identify and assess ways in which crime, and societal responses to it, are subject to historical and cultural change;
3. Interpret and synthesise different sources of evidence about crime;
4. Describe and apply competing theoretical explanations for crime.

Aims: 'Crime' is a heavily contested term within criminology. The key aim of this unit is to introduce students to criminological debates about this concept - that is, competing definitions of 'crime', how the 'problem of crime' has been differently-constructed over time, and the political uses of 'crime' and criminal justice. The unit explores, too, the core theoretical debates around the causes of and explanations for criminal offending. In doing so, it starts to sketch out the history of criminology as an academic discipline, and prompts students to think about its relationship to cognate disciplines (such as sociology, psychology, and philosophy).

Skills: The unit will foster the following intellectual skills:
* The ability to draw on and synthesise evidence from a range of sources
* The ability to assess the merits and appropriateness of different explanations for crime and deviance
* The ability to develop a reasoned argument and exercise critical judgement
The unit will foster the following professional/practical skills:
* The ability to critically reflect on different theoretical/methodological approaches within criminology
* Written and oral communication skills
The unit will foster the following transferable/key skills:
* The ability to develop and present a well-structured, coherent essay.
* 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 apply key concepts in criminology and cognate disciplines to a range of problems
* The ability to work and communicate as individuals, as well as in a team
* Skills in information technology
* Critical and analytical skills.

Content: This unit will cover topics such as:
  1. What is crime?
  2. Historical perspectives on crime
  3. Contemporary forms of crime and criminality
  4. Crime statistics and counting 'crime'
  5. Who commits crime?
  6. Why do people commit crime?

Programme availability:

SP10357 is a Designated Essential Unit on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences

SP10357 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 1)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.