Module descriptions for Criminology

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.
  • Compulsory Modules

    Crime and Criminology in Context
    This module introduces you to some of the key concerns, questions and conceptual and theoretical frameworks of criminology. It will challenge conventional notions of who and what is viewed as ‘criminal’ and ask why do some ‘acts’ become understood as crimes and other not? It will also ask fundamental questions and frames the various ways to investigate and explain crime, victimisation and crime control.

    Crime in Theory and Practice
    This module investigates contemporary criminological concerns, central problems and current policies in the administration of criminal justice, law enforcement and punishment. It will address debates on crime control and management, and examine the interface between the theory of crime and criminal behaviour and the practical workings of the criminal justice system.

    Recommended Modules

    Legal Method
    This module involves the study of statutory interpretation, judicial interpretation and the primary sources/structures of the law of England and Wales.

    Bloody Histories: Crime and Violence in the West
    This module provides an introduction to the history of crime and violence in the West in the period 1400-2000. It offers you the chance to develop a specialised interest in criminal justice history, and make connections between law, crime and punishment and the wider social context in Britain, Europe and America. You will be expected to show awareness of the debates that have grown up around the basic interpretational or explanatory frameworks applied to the history of crime. The module introduces some of the key types of sources available to crime historians, and some of the challenges in using and interpreting them.

    Making History: Core Concepts and Skills for the Historian
    It offers you the chance to develop your understanding of the nature of historical enquiry, and your ability to express yourself effectively in a variety of forms. The module provides basic training in some of the principal theories, methods and sources used by historians, while introducing students to some of the key research interests of staff in the History team. 

    Applied Criminology (includes work placement opportunities)

    This module gives you the opportunity to explore crime, interpretations of crime and approaches to dealing with this phenomena in a range of institutional and organisational settings. In this module you will undertake a short placement or work-based learning activity within a selected public sector organisation, NGO or voluntary organisation that engages in managing crime in some form.

    Applied Criminology l
    This module explores the application of criminological theory to 'real world' problems of crime and criminal justice. In this context an 'applied criminology' will be used, not only to find solutions to particular questions of crime and criminal justice, but also to problematize current practice and explore how such concerns can help inform future research and scholarship. Students will consider a range of case studies taken from current policy and practice and apply criminological insights from the point of view of practitioners, policy-makers and politicians currently working within the criminal justice system. The module invites students to consider the varied ways in which criminology is used in in applied settings and why there is often a 'disconnect' between what is taught in the classroom and what happens in practice.

    Applied Criminology ll
    This module provides students with the opportunity to explore crime, the multiple meanings and interpretations of crime and approaches to dealing with these phenomena in a range of institutional and organisational settings. In this module students will undertake a short placement or work-based learning activity within a selected public sector organisation, NGO or voluntary organisation that engages in managing crime in some form. This may be a direct engagement such as policing or the prison service or in a more indirect way such as a voluntary sector service (For example a learning disability advocacy group) or in a public sector organisation (a school or a local authority). Students taking this module will not engage directly with service users or client groups but will be engaged in learning about how the organisation they are working with contributes to the identification, management and prevention of crime. This module will provide an opportunity to further enhance their understanding of the wider societal context of crime and crime management as well as developing their transferable skills, graduate attributes and to gain more experience of the application of academic and disciplinary knowledge and skills outside the classroom.

    Crime, Capitalism and Markets (compulsory)
    This module explores the critical relationship between economic organisation – in this case capitalism and its contemporary manifestations (for example, global, neo-liberal) and crime. The module adopts a broadly political economy approach that conceptualises the economy and its organisation as a complex set of interdependencies at the individual, moral, cultural and other social dimensions.

    Crime and Punishment through the Ages 
    This module focuses on the long-running historical debate on the nature, incidence and causes of crime since the medieval period. It will investigate the forms of punishment adopted by the authorities and how and why they altered so dramatically over the course of history. You will also be introduced to the theoretical background important for the study of crime, criminality and punishment.

    Evidence
    An examination of some important rules of evidence, including evidence of children and vulnerable witnesses, sexual history evidence, corroboration and identification evidence, expert opinion evidence, hearsay evidence, confession evidence, silence as evidence, improperly obtained evidence, covert surveillance and entrapment, and evidence of character. The module will place particular emphasis on the significance of the rules of evidence in criminal trial, in the context of the need to avoid miscarriages of justice.

    Criminal Law (Double Module)
    An examination of the general principles underlying criminal liability, together with a study of individual offences and defences - in particular fatal and non-fatal offences against the person and against property.

    Globalisation and Crime
    This module explores areas of crime and criminal justice beyond the nation state. The module adopts a comparative criminology approach and locates the discussion of specific topics and themes within theories of modernity, theories of crime, deviance and social response, and global theories of crime and criminal justice in relation to socio-demographic and geopolitical data.

    History and Documents
    This module enables you to obtain, practice and perfect the important skills necessary in the use of historical documents as primary sources. The importance of such sources in developing our understanding of an event, period or theme is stressed throughout this module. You will learn that primary sources serve as the evidence historians use to create an interpretation and to build an argument to support that interpretation. The module gives you the opportunity to consolidate and focus the methodological and practical skills offered by the History programme. It draws together and further develops the primary source work undertaken in the level four modules, and complements and supports that carried out in the other level five modules.

    Intersectionality and Crime (compulsory)
    In recent years there has been an increasing focus on intersectionality theory in the social sciences. This module explores and analyses this approach and its implications for the wider discipline of criminology. This module invites you to critically engage and apply intersectionality and to explore how key social identities – for example gender, race, and socioeconomic class – affect all of us and how we experience crime and the criminal justice system.

    Jack the Ripper and the Victorian Underworld 
    Examines the moral and cultural climate associated with the nineteenth century underworld. Using the phenomenon of Jack the Ripper as a prism through which to view the differing dynamics of Victorian society, the module will analyse attitudes towards prostitution, the criminal class, the development of the penitentiary system and the regulation of policing, in an age when public perceptions of crime and punishment challenged those of the establishment.

    Researching Crime: Methods, Approaches and Ethics (compulsory)
    This module will introduce you to the development, application and realities of research methods in Criminology. It has been specifically designed to equip you with both the understanding and skills required to analyse research methods, design, processes and research outcomes. The module will also consider key ethical considerations, issues of access and appropriateness of research. 

    Advanced Study in the History of Crime 

    This module offers you the opportunity to make a concentrated study of a specialised topic in the history of crime. The topic or topics offered change each year but are closely related to staff research interests, and will foster a familiarity with current research and a critical awareness of recent scholarship in the area under study.

    Advanced Study in the History of Ideas 
    This module offers you the opportunity to make a concentrated study of a specialised topic in the history of ideas. The topic or topics offered change each year but are closely related to staff research interests, and will foster a familiarity with current research and a critical awareness of recent scholarship in the area under study. 

    Advanced Study in Modern Political History 
    This module offers you the opportunity to make a concentrated study of a specialised topic in modern political history. The topic or topics offered change each year but are closely related to staff research interests, and will foster a familiarity with current research and a critical awareness of recent scholarship in the area under study.

    Border Criminology
    Border criminology is the examination of the intersection of border control and criminal justice. This module will provide students with an in-depth overview of the key issues related to globalisation, punishment and migration. The module will introduce the fundamental areas of investigation within this sub-field of criminology, notably citizenship, identity and belonging, placing them within the historical and evolving context of globalisation and migration. Students will examine the expansion of legal and penal powers in relation to immigration control in the UK and compare these with international responses to the same issues. The module will conclude with a critical reflection of border issues relating to race and the legacy of colonialism alongside examination of media, public opinion and the growing 'far right' movement.

    Dealing with Drugs: Control and Intoxication
    This module takes the format of a national case study by examining a set of responses to the actual and perceived problems associated with illicit drug use in the United Kingdom.

    Dissertation in Criminology (compulsory)
    This module provides the opportunity for independent research under supervision. You choose a dissertation topic under advice from staff in Criminology. For interdisciplinary dissertations, you choose a topic combining the knowledge and disciplinary skills of two subjects of study.

    Picturing the Criminal: From Mugshot to Fine Art
    This interdisciplinary module offers third-year undergraduate students an advanced-level introduction to the new and burgeoning field of visual criminology. The module draws on literature from the arts and humanities as well as the social sciences as well as the unique art historical and scientific-imaging collections held at the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, and the University of Oxford's Art History Archive. Students will identify, describe and critically engage with the modern intellectual history of visual criminology including its origins in the birth of criminology as a colonialist social science in the nineteenth century, the iconoclasm of criminology throughout the twentieth century, and its revival in the twenty-first century. By covering this history, the visual is fed and woven back through the criminological canon so that seeing and picturing becomes the primary epistemology or way of thinking and generating knowledge about crime. Students will identify, describe and critically engage with different visual epistemologies or ways of seeing and their attendant ethics from the colonial to digital age. In so doing they will study varied visual media that have been used to represent criminality during that time including sculpture, painting and drawing, photography, and digital technologies all of which are located in either artistic or scientific ideologies (a tension that students will constantly reflect on). Students will interrogate images especially from an intersectional perspective to consider the ways in which race and gender have characterised visualisations of criminality.

    Policing in Historical and Comparative Perspectives
    This module explores and analyses the concept, role and nature of organised and formal policing in both historical and comparative perspective. It will trace the origins of modern policing, consider major trends in the development of policing, and the relationship between globalisation, neo-liberal economics and transnational policing. 

    Independent Study in Criminology
    This module gives you the opportunity to undertake independent study and research under supervision. You can submit a proposal for independent study, and provided that supervision is available, an agreed programme of work and assessment schedule is constructed for the following semester.

    The Prison and Imprisonment
    This module will provide students with an advanced introduction to the topic of prisons and imprisonment. It will situate the modern prison within a broader historical and global context, and explore this institution from the point of view of prisoners, prison staff and the wider community. Students will examine the historical evolution of the prison and reflect upon the 'punitive shift' in penal policy from the 'rehabilitative ideal' of the immediate post-war period, to the penal populism that now characterises so much prison debate. It will examine the governance and administration of the prison system before turning to the routines of everyday prison life, and how that prisoners confront and give meaning to those realities. The module will conclude with an overview of sentence progression for different categories of prisoner and considers how well the system prepares inmates for their life on release. Where possible this module is grounded in the local Oxford context and students will have the opportunity to interact with external speakers drawn prison staff, penal reform organisations, prisoners and their families.

    The Carnival and Pleasures of Crime
    This module explores the ways in which individuals and groups participate in certain forms of crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour. It explores the role of pleasures, performance, identity and meaning in criminal acts and explores the multiple actions and meanings that crime may have for different actors across time and space.

    Understanding Criminal Justice 
    This module will examine some of the main issues in Criminal Justice. It will provide an overview of the Criminal Justice system, and will consider in detail topics such as punishment, sentencing, crime prevention and community safety, policing, youth crime, prisons and the criminal court system.