Thinking Sociologically About Crime

Module code: SY1018

How we understand crime often shifts to discussions of psychological profiling and an increased fascination for all things forensic, but it is important to remember that crime happens and is managed as part of a wider society. It is therefore necessary to think sociologically about how crime is defined, who has the power to label acts as deviant or criminal, and how society chooses to punish those who transgress. This module seeks to deliver a broad and comprehensive investigation into how crime and deviance are researched and discussed within a sociological framework.

Topics covered

  • Introducing Sociological Thinking About Crime
  • The Legacy of C. Wright Mills
  • Crime and the Ethnographic Tradition
  • Contemporary Crime Ethnography
  • The Social Contract 
  • Conformity and Rebellion 
  • Classicism and Utilitarianism
  • Contemporary Panopticism
  • Determinism
  • Social Class and Crime 
  • The Chicago School 
  • Cities and Crime 
  • Strain and Anomie 
  • Labelling Theory 
  • Folk Devils and Moral Panics
  • Policing by Consent 
  • Politicising Crime 
  • Rights, Wrongs and Responsibilities


  • 20 hours of lectures
  • 9 hours of seminars
  • 121 hours of guided independent study


  • Examination, 2 hours (50%)
  • Essay, 1,500 words (50%)