CR5019 - Contemporary Issues in Criminality

What will I learn on this module?

Structured around key themes of contemporary global transformations and political economy, the module offers insight into contemporary issues in criminality. Students will be introduced to a number of contemporary crime problems and will be encouraged to consider how the subjectivities, motivations, opportunities and modus operandi of perpetrators are shaped by contemporary structural, cultural and technological conditions. The module is research-led and will reflect departmental specialisms which currently include state crime, rural crime, organised crime, drugs, white-collar crime and migration.

The module initially reflects upon the definitions and implications of processes such as globalisation and neoliberalisation in order to consider the logic underpinning our current global order. Consideration of the way in which global flows, power dynamics and economic culture manifest within this context will form the basis of students’ analysis of contemporary criminality.

Throughout the module, students will be introduced to a number of key issues in criminality in a way that aims to consider the broad spectrum of criminal actors. Moving beyond the narrow confines of a ‘traditional criminological focus’, students will be introduced to the criminal and harmful behaviours of those operating at various levels within society and they will consider the way in which criminal and harmful behaviours are shaped and facilitated by the contours of contemporary society. The module thus aims to offer substantive knowledge around the nature, scope and dynamics of contemporary criminal behaviour but also to offer students a theoretical framework capable of capturing the forces which shape these realities.

How will I learn on this module?

Teaching on the module will be delivered via lectures and seminar classes. Core theoretical and substantive material will be delivered in weekly lectures where students will be introduced to a series of contemporary issues in criminality. Student-led seminar workshops will provide a forum in which students can explore and discuss case study material in greater depth and reflect upon the findings of cutting edge criminological research in reading circles. Workshops will be used to discuss, debate, and reinforce knowledge and concepts and to explore the boundaries of contemporary criminal practice. Supporting resources will be indicated or made available via the eLearning Portal.

Under the guidance of the lecturers, you will be expected to prepare for, and contribute to, weekly workshops by reading widely and engaging in detailed in-depth discussion on contemporary crime issues. Lecturers will encourage you to identify appropriate subject areas for research, to devise manageable and well-focused written work, and to plan a schedule of work to function successfully as an independent learner.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Staff members will be available to support you via email, in workshops, and during scheduled office hours. There is also substantial support from your fellow students during workshops and outside of class.

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 & Understanding:
1. An awareness of the nature and scope of contemporary criminality and criminal actors.
2. An awareness of how criminal subjectivities, motivations and opportunities are shaped by political, economic, cultural and technological conditions.
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Apply knowledge and understanding of academic literature to present and synthesise the ways in which political, economic, cultural and technological structures impact criminality
4. ability to engage in effective academic discussion around chosen topic and present appropriate and academically rigorous arguments.
5. Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
6. demonstrate intellectual curiosity, flexibility and openness of ideas when analysing a specific topic.

How will I be assessed?

Students on the module will be required to submit two assessments. The first assignment will be a group podcast and will ask students to explain the impact of a particular element of the current global order on contemporary criminality, assessing the way different perspectives and/or conceptualisations help develop our understanding. This component will contribute 40% of the overall mark. Students should demonstrate an awareness of the political, cultural, economic and technological features of the contemporary world order and be able to articulate how these features shape contemporary criminal practices. In the second assignment, students will submit an essay of 2000 words which focuses on a specific contemporary issue in criminality. This assignment will contribute 60% of the overall mark for the module. Students should be able to present a coherently argued discussion of a contemporary issue in criminality and discuss it in relation to relevant societal, cultural, political, economic, cultural, technological and/or environmental factors. A list of essay questions will be circulated by the module tutor.

Both assessments address all five MLOs.





Module abstract


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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