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[SI0200] - Theory and Method in Contemporary Criminology

Module Code: SI0200
Module Leader: Adam Edwards
Year: 2
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20

Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars. Seminars will consist of debates and group working. Students are also expected to engage in private study.
Assessment: Coursework (essays) 3000 words (40%) - Autumn Semester; Coursework (research design exercise) 4000 words (60%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Criminology


Module Aims

  • To examine the philosophy of explanation in contemporary criminology;
  • To examine the interrelationship between theory and method in contemporary criminological research;
  • To consider the role of conceptual analysis in designing and conducting criminological research.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Comprehend the relationship between theory and methods in contemporary criminology.
  • Comprehend how exemplary criminological studies have demonstrated the relationship between theory and method.
  • Comprehend arguments amongst quantitative and qualitative criminological research strategies.
  • Comprehend arguments over the normative and political aspects of criminological research.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • Demonstrate an ability to conceptualise criminological research employing different philosophies of explanation.
  • Demonstrate an ability to criticise the philosophy of explanation adopted by exemplary criminological studies.

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Appreciate the ethical and political implications of different philosophies of explanation in contemporary criminology.
  • Understand the implications of adopting a particular philosophy of explanation for the application of different criminological research methods.
  • Appreciate the challenges of conceptualising and researching crime, disorder and their control in diverse social contexts.

Transferable Skills

The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills:

Communication and presentation of oral and written arguments; interpersonal skills in small-group work; debating skills developed in deliberative seminar discussions; conceptual and analytic skills in comprehending, analysing, synthesising and evaluating arguments; equipping students with the ability to design criminological research.


Synopsis of Module Content

The module commences with a discussion of arguments in the philosophy of explanation in contemporary criminological research. The introductory lectures discuss the importance of debates over ontology and epistemology for the design, interpretation and dissemination of criminological research. A basic distinction is made between qualitative and quantitative research strategies, complementing this distinction in the core Social Research Methods (SI0030) module taken by all second year undergraduates in the School of Social Sciences.

The lecture programme considers the inductive and deductive relationships between theory and research, exemplifying these through detailed consideration of specific criminological studies.The lecture programme then concludes with a consideration of how qualitative and quantitative research strategies can be employed in designing undergraduate level research projects, such as the dissertations that students are invited to undertake in their final year of studies.

These lectures are designed to complement the instruction in applied methods that students receive through the Social Research Methods module (SI0030). Through this examination of the philosophy of explanation, the module aims to clarify the relationship between theory and method in criminological research, equipping students with the ability to criticise and apply concepts in criminological thought to the design of research projects.


Opportunities for Formative Assessment

Students will receive formative feedback on group work undertaken in seminars.


Arrangements for Feedback on Work

Students receive feedback on formative assessment in seminars and on summative assessment through written comments on their individual coursework..


Indicative Reading

Bryman, A. (2008)  Social Research Methods, 3rd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Crow, I. and Semmens, N. (2007) Researching Criminology. London: McGraw Hill.

King, R. D. and Wincup, E. (Eds.) (2007) Doing Research on Crime and Justice,  2nd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noaks, L. and Wincup, E. (Eds.) (2004)  Criminological Research: Understanding Qualitative Methods. London: Sage.