CR4001 - Explaining Crime

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will be introduced definitions of crime, a selection of crime types and to a wide range of explanationatory theories that been developed to explain why people commit crime and how we night effectively prevent and respond to criminality. Weekly lectures and seminars will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to introduce you to theories and to understand their strengths, limitations and impacts in relation to how we understand crime and the criminal justice system. We will explore a variety of theories associated with rational actor, pre-destined actor and victimised actor explanations for crime. We will also explore explanations for green crime, integrated explanations that combine ideas from different perspectives, and explore explanations that have attempted to explain why different groups in society commit crime. We will explore the differences, commonalities and dynamic nature of these various explanations for crime , explore evidence to understand the explanatory power of the different explanatory theories and explore the policy and practice implications of the different theoretical explanations we cover... The module will also introduce to students to crime victimisation and operation of the criminal justice system.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will be delivered using a combination of lectures, seminar activities, online content and academic tutorials. You are also required to do a good deal of directed and independent study: Directed learning generally will take the form of preparation for seminars (including both reading and written work) either individually or in small groups. Independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and investigation of sources, the consolidation of lecture and seminar materials, and revision/preparation for both module assessments Students must come prepared to actively engage in informed (through reading) discussions in your seminar groups. Detailed guidance will be available to support this independent study.
At level four, the primary emphasis will be on the development of foundational knowledge, that is, understanding and skills in ‘description’. Within the module you will develop both generic and subject specific skills including: subject specific knowledge; independent learning, exam preparation; report paperwriting skills; bibliographic and referencing skills; reflective skills; research skills; time management; and IT Skills. Your independent learning will be facilitated by an online reading list and additional resources available on the module’s blackboard site.
You are at the beginning of your studies and this is a level four (year 1) module. Consistent with this, the primary emphasis in your assignments should be on demonstrating descriptive knowledge, while showing that you are working towards a more evaluative approach.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Developing your ability to research, understand and describe the fundamental features various criminological theory is central to this module. In this regard, it will enable you to challenge and question your understanding of the causes of crime, critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and identify the policy and practice implications associated with each theory. In addition to your intellectual development, you will receive support from your peers in the classroom and from the module tutors throughout the module. You will also be able to ask the module teaching team for r information, advice and guidance about the module and assessments if required via email or in person. Staff have dedicated hours when students can meet with us face to face or online for information, advice and guidance relating to the module and assessment. In certain circumstances, based on an assessment of your needs, it is possible for you to have additional time to complete your assessments. A module reading list will support you to access a range of relevant materials and additional materials will be made available via the module blackboard site where appropriate. The module site also has information and links about a range of advice and guidance to support students academically (e.g. writing skills, independent study, sourcing good quality literature). Students will also receive full information about module assessments including requirements, advice and guidance and marking criteria to support their performance.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge and Understanding
1. Focusing on specific crimes, understand what crime is, its contingent nature, scale, volume, perpetrator characteristics and motivations, victim characteristics experiences and policy and practices responses.
2. Identify and understand the ideas and arguments contained in a range of classical, biological, psychological and sociological explanations for crime and the key individuals associated with different explanations.
3. Have knowledge of the explanatory power (that is the strengths and weaknesses of the different explanations explored) and the evidence/research base supporting and challenging different explanations.
Intellectual / Professional Skills and Abilities:
4. Understand the policy and practice implications of the different explanations explored.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

To work independently to research, analyse, and present discussions about a particular crime and about criminological theories and their application.

How will I be assessed?

The seminar programme will support the formative assessment for this module. Student groups will research and discuss different theories and consider how effectively these theories have and can be applied in the real world.

Two assignments will form the summative assessment for this module.
The 2000 word report will assess MLO 1 & 5.
The exam will assess MLO 2, 3, 4. .

Feedback will be provided within the required timescales. All students will be given an indication of how their work could be improved and additional generic feedback will be provided via blackboard. Individual feedback will be provided using the departmental feedback from enabling tailored feedback and advice to be provided.





Module abstract

Explaining Crime will introduce you to the study of criminology by enabling you to understand what ‘crime’ is, its changing nature and the opportunity to explore a range of crime types. This will give you an understanding of what crime is in terms of definition, volume and impact. Following this exploration of definitions and examples, we critically explore a range of historical and more contemporary explanations for crime. This will include exploration of key arguments associated with each explanation, research/evidence supporting and challenging different explanations and policy and practice implications associated with different explanations. Learning will be achieved through whole class, small group and independent learning, use of technology, andwill draw on research .There are two assessments (a 2,000 word report and a multiple choice exam. As such, the module provides you with a research rich experience and one that develops a range of skills and attitudes relevant to your remaining study and which support employability.

Programme Framework for Northumbria Awards Research Rich Learning Design Pillar

Students will engage, discuss and reflect on existing research exploring the explanatory power of different theoretical explanations or issues being covered each week during lectures, seminars and independent study. Students will also undertake their own research of existing literature/research studies in preparation for a form formative assessment and for both summative assessments. Lectures will refer to a range of research that will be critically discussed in terms of research design, findings and implications.

Course info

UCAS Code C8M9

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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