Module code: SOC2082

Module Overview

This module will introduce students to the study of environmental crime.  It will examine a wide range of issues related to the damaging relationship between humans and the ecological world. It will include a detailed examination of specific topics such as climate change, corporate environmental crime, threats to biodiversity and waste crime.  Additionally, key theoretical debates surrounding the legal notions of harms against the environment and the classification of non-humans as victims of crime will be discussed. Students will be introduced to a range of approaches to policing different types of environmental crimes and the legal, financial and practical problems these present for governments and enforcement agencies.

Module provider


Module Leader

ROBERTS Tom (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

  • Exploring the impact of crime on the natural environment

  • The relationship between environmental change, biodiversity loss, corporate responsibility and criminal activity

  • Waste crime – how new rules and legislation can create opportunities for a black market.

  • Poverty and environmental crime - poaching and the illegal trade in animals

  • COVID-19 and the legal/illegal trade in wildlife, what have we learned?

  • Blue Criminology  - exploring illegal fishing

  • Extreme weather and crime, impacts on criminal activity and policing

  • Policing environmental world – challenges, opportunities and the role of technology

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of environmental crime and the role criminological research can play in tackling environmental degradation. It will enable them to demonstrate their ability to construct an argument in relation to these debates, that is well structured and accessible to both academic and non-academic audiences. It will also encourage engagement with digital technologies in order to select, summarise and present relevant information for a specified audience.  


 The summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • Assessment 1: Case study of environmental crime (coursework) 25% - Choose a type of environmental crime from a selection, identify a ‘good’ example from the academic/media literature. Produce an overview of the case and highlight how and why it helps us to understand the particular type of environmental crime  


  • Assessment 2: Academic Essay (coursework), 75%– choice from a selection of essay titles on environmental crime. Utilise a range of theories, concepts and research, drawing appropriately on academic literature, to develop a relevant argument to answer the set question.



Formative assessment and feedback


Students will take part in group tasks in class throughout the module, on which they will receive formative feedback.

Detailed guidance on how to complete the summative assessments is given in class and on Surrey Learn, and students will be provided with opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback on their developing plans.

Summative feedback from Assessment 1 will act as feed-forward for Assessment 2. Formative feedback will be provided verbally on class exercises and discussions


Written feedback is provided for all summative coursework tasks.

Module aims

  • To provide students with an overview of issues related to environmental crime and introduce students to the key concepts in green criminology
  • To introduce students to theoretical debates in green criminology, examples of environmental crime and the analysis of strategies for protecting non-humans from criminal activities
  • To critically examine how criminologists study the environment and explore the role the discipline has in tackling environmental destruction

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an understanding of green criminology and environmental crime KC
002 Be able to critically evaluate key debates about the classification of non-human entities as potential victims of crime KC
003 Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the impact of criminal activity on the natural environment KCT
004 Outline relevant theories, concepts and research related to environmental crime and contexts, and the relationships between them KC
005 Produce a variety of documents that illustrate a reflexive understanding of environmental crime PT
006 Employ digital technologies to select, summarise and present relevant information PT

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 introduction to key topics in environmental crime and enable them to consider criminology from a sustainability perspective.  It will demonstrate that criminology as a discipline has an important role to play in developing an effective response to the challenges associated with climate change and wider environmental degradation.

The weekly lectures will expose students to a wide range of environmental crimes, concepts, research and debates, supported by required reading each week.

The weekly seminars provide the opportunity to discuss and analyse these ideas in more depth, and work in groups on tasks that encourage critical and independent thinking, as well as offer preparation and support for assessments.

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: SOC2082

Other information

The School 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:

Employability - Students will develop a range of transferrable skills including critical thinking, reading and writing skills, analysis and evaluation skills, verbal communication skills, and the ability to construct and support a well-evidenced argument. Students will be exposed to a growing number of professional roles associated with tackling environmental crime.

Digital capabilities - Students will be required to engage with digital information technologies (such as Surrey Learn, Surrey Search, Google Scholar) to access and utilise academic and media sources for class tasks and assignments. They will also learn about the role digital technologies play in some environmental crimes and the approaches used to tackle them.

Global and cultural capabilities – Environmental crime is a global issue which transcends boarders and cultures.   The module explores the challenges this presents in finding fair and equitable solutions to complex global problems.  The modules also draws on a wide range of local and global examples to illustrate topics covered in most of the sessions.

Sustainability - Sustainability is at the heart of the module. Students will learn about the basic principles associated with environmental change and the significant contribution criminal activity is having. They will also consider the wider environmental impact of the criminal justice system and be equipped with the skills to understand how to minimise these impacts. The module also explores the impact of environmental change on criminal activity, by considering the impact of phenomenon such as flooding and extreme heat on criminal behavior.  

Resourcefulness and resilience - Students will be required to independently plan and write essays, access digital teaching resources, and build their confidence and engagement through participation in seminar discussions and activities, thus contributing to a supportive learning community

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environment and Sustainability BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law, Environment and Sustainability Pathway) LLB (Hons) 2 Optional Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% 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.