Module code: SOC1059

Module Overview

This module will introduce students to the major theoretical perspectives that have been developed within criminology to conceptualise 'crime' and 'deviance', and to explain the different ways societies respond to crime.

Part A covers a number of theoretical developments from 'classical' criminological theory onwards, focusing in particular on innovations in the UK and USA since the 20th century inter-war period. It situates these theories within specific contexts of society and criminal justice, exploring the interplay between theory and practice.

Part B builds on knowledge acquired in Part A and provides an overview of contemporary debates and discussions within criminology, including but not limited to critical and radical approaches, problems of governance, and criminal justice policy.

The module will help students to develop a critical awareness of how contemporary criminological theories both contribute to an understanding of criminality as well as shaping and generating ideas and responses to crime and deviance. Students will also explore how specific theoretical perspectives can help us to address criminal justice problems such as punishment, incarceration, and social control. In so doing, students will gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between theory and practice and how the two can inform and influence one another.

Module provider


Module Leader

BERLUSCONI Giulia (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 212

Lecture Hours: 22

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 22

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative topics include the following:


Part A: Explaining crime and deviance (semester 1)

  • Classicism and the rise of modern criminology

  • Biological, psychological, and sociological positivism

  • Anomie and strain

  • Community context and social disorganisation

  • Control and learning theories

  • Life-course perspectives


Part B: Responding to crime and deviance (semester 2)

  • Subcultures and cultural criminology

  • Moral panics, labelling and social reaction

  • Radical and critical criminology

  • Realist and feminist criminology

  • Risk, control, and surveillance

  • Governance and governmentality

  • Culture of control

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Journal Article Review 40
Coursework Case study 40
Examination Online Short Answer Multiple-Choice Exam 45 minutes (1 hour window) 20

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge  of criminological theory and its application to address a range of criminal justice problems. Specifically, it provides students with opportunities to: (a) demonstrate their developing understanding of major criminological and sociological theories of crime, deviance, crime control, and punishment, and (b) apply their knowledge in relation to both empirical research examples and real-life case studies.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Assessment 1: Journal Article Review (coursework), 40% (addresses LO1, LO2 and LO4) –

review one empirical article focusing on a topic covered in the first half of Part 1, and link it to previous knowledge of the topic / theory .


  • Assessment 2: Case study (coursework), 40% (addresses LO1, LO3 and LO4) – analyse a real-life example of criminal behaviour in light of the relevant concepts and topics covered in the first half of Part 2.


  • Assessment 3: Multiple-Choice Exam (online examination), 20% (addresses LO1, LO2, and LO3) – conduct a short answer, multiple choice exam on selected module content.



Formative assessment and feedback


Students will have the opportunity to engage with group tasks and individual readings in the seminars, on which they will receive verbal formative feedback in how they are progressing.

Detailed guidance on how to complete the summative assessments will be given in class and on SurreyLearn, and students will be provided with opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback.

Written feedback is provided for all summative assessment tasks.

Module aims

  • Enable students to develop a critical awareness of how criminology has tried to understand crime and deviance throughout its history
  • Encourage students to develop a critical awareness of the major contentions and arguments between different areas of criminological inquiry
  • Provide students with an understanding of the relationship between criminological theory, and its impact on social policy and the criminal justice system
  • Equip students with the ability to apply a range of criminological and sociological theories to illuminate contemporary social problems

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe the historical development and main contribution of the major criminological and sociological theories of crime, deviance, crime control and punishment CK
002 Discuss the major contentions and arguments between different areas of criminological inquiry CK
003 Identify the relationship between criminological theory and the development of criminal justice policies CKPT
004 Apply a range of criminological theories to illuminate contemporary social problems CKT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of key criminological theories, how such theories can explain criminal and deviant behaviour, and how theory and practice can inform and influence one another. The module also offers students the opportunity to develop key study skills that relate to employability.


The learning and teaching methods include lectures, seminars, class exercises and discussions, and independent study. The lectures provide an introduction to a set of criminological theories and explanations. The seminars allow for a more in-depth discussion of key issues and to engage in practical exercises which enhance knowledge in more practical ways. The sessions are designed to be interactive, and students are expected to come to the class having read the relevant material and ready to participate actively in the activities and discussions, both in the lectures and seminars.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC1059

Other information

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience.


This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:


Digital capabilities: Students will develop knowledge of the ways in which technology has transformed the rationales and practices of crime control. They will also reflect on the societal implications of the automation of crime control and the use of Big Data in criminal justice.


Employability: Students will develop and strengthen a number of important skills, both subject specific and transferable. Students interested in a career in criminal justice will benefit from an understanding of what crime is, who is more likely to commit crimes, and how we can develop effective policies to reduce and prevent crimes. More broadly, the module will help students to strengthen their skills in terms of writing, developing a critical argument, effective communication, teamwork, and time management – these are core transferable skills that will be crucial regardless of the chosen professional path.


Global and cultural capabilities: A thread throughout the module is how suitable criminological theories from the English-speaking world are for other contexts and what reliance on them says about criminology as a discipline. In reflecting on how different contexts affect theoretical innovation and the move from theory to practice, students will strengthen their global and cultural capabilities.


Resourcefulness and resilience: Throughout the semester, students will work together in groups during the seminars to carry out a variety of tasks in ways which demand resourcefulness and resilience. For example, they will be required (with guidance) to search for crime and socio-economic data for selected neighbourhoods to compare and explain differing crime rates.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.