Introduction to Criminology

According to Encarta, “Criminology, the scientific study of criminals and criminal behavior. Criminologists attempt to build theories that explain why crimes occur and test those theories by observing behavior. Criminological theories help shape society’s response to crime both in terms of preventing criminal behavior and responding to it after it occurs.” (1)

Main Contents

  • Causes and Prevention of Crime
  • Correctional Theory, Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation
  • Courts and Sentencing
  • Criminological Theories
  • Police Administration, Procedures and Practice
  • Private Policing and Security Services
  • Forensic statistics (see also Statistics)
  • Forensic chemistry
  • Forensic biology
  • Crime policy (see also Policy and Administration)
  • Forensic psychology (see also Psychology)
  • Criminal law

Development and Goals of Criminology

Development of Criminology

See Development of Criminology

The Goals of Criminology

See Goals of Criminology

Biological Theories of Crime

Biological Theories of Crime

See Biological Theories of Crime

Psychological Theories of Crime

See Psychological Theories of Crime

Environmental and Social Theories of Crime

See Environmental and Social Theories of Crime

Theories of Criminal Opportunity

See Theories of Criminal Opportunity

See Also

List of Criminal Law Online Journals
International Criminal Law
List of Criminal Biographies (Gangs) Entries
Transnational crime
Human Trafficking
Chriminal law and ethics


Contents of Criminology

Contents of this subject matter include:


A. Introduction to Criminology: the first part will set the scene and tone for the subject. You will be introduced to the topic of criminology and an overview of future learning.

B. Research in Criminology

Criminology draws its theoretical frameworks and research tools from a wide range of professional disciplines and institutions, including law, sociology, chemistry, psychology, medicine, psychiatry, political science, political economy and cultural studies. This seminar will be devoted to a broad examination and discussion of the nature of criminological research and how various theorists and practitioners engage with the discipline.


A. Classical and Positivist Explanations: This chapter details foundational criminological explanations for criminal behavior within their historical contexts. We will look at classical (legal, rational choice) and biological and psychological positivist (determinism) theories of crime causation. By the end of this seminar, readers should begin to appreciate the virtues of a multidisciplinary approach to criminological theory. Readers are encouraged to consider modern examples of these theoretical approaches.

B. Structural explanations: Marxism, Strain and intersectionality

In this part we consider the theoretical shift from a focus on individual criminality to social causes of crime, with a particular focus on Indigenous Australians. Since the beginning of white settlement in Australia, one of the key points of intersection between European Australians and Indigenous Australians has been the criminal justice system. Arrest and incarceration rates for Indigenous people far exceed those for other ethnic groups. This seminar attempts to understand why.


A. Labelling theory and moral panic: Law and order issues are salient in the international community and false beliefs about crime are common. What does this mean for political rhetoric concerning crime and how does this influence policy and decision-making? Issues such as policing, punishment, and media representations of crime will be analyzed and related to the criminological theory regarding ‘moral panics’.

B. Discussion: ‘One punch’ and lock-out laws

The recent ‘one punch’ legislation and so-called ‘lock-out laws’ in Sydney have generated significant debate about personal freedoms and responsibilities. This debate highlights the role that crime statistics as relayed through the media can play in debates such as this. This discussion aims to look at all sides of the debate. You are encouraged to read widely on this issue before class and to be able to substantiate your position.


A. Crime prevention

Crime prevention is a major area of research in criminology with highly practical implications. This seminar details the theoretical and practical approaches employed to prevent crime.

B. Victimology

The field of victimology has developed since the 1960s in response to the perceived inadequacy of the criminal justice system to the plight of victims. This seminar details theoretical approaches and recent practical responses by the government to victims’ needs. One of the great difficulties in this area is balancing the needs of victims with the civil rights of other citizens, particularly offenders.


A. Prisons I: from panoptics to banoptics

This seminar provides an historical perspective and analysis of the purpose of prisons; their utility and efficacy at various times throughout history and a discussion of the moral ideal of ‘correction’ in the lead up to the prison visit in Week 7. At the same time, we will look into various surveillance theories and their significance – from Bentham’s ‘panopticon’, to Bigo’s ‘ban-opticon’.

B. Prisons II: the ‘new’ penology

This seminar focuses on the political economy implications of incarceration and what Feeley and Simon have called ‘actuarial justice’. They argue that this ‘new’ penology has shifted focus away from the traditional concerns of the individual, and redirected them towards the actuarial consideration of aggregates. What are the implications of this shift and is it incompatible with the legal, rational actor model outlined in Week 2?.


A. Feminisms

Feminists were the first with a discourse of otherness to seek to explain crime from an ideological standpoint. This seminar explores this progression and examines the role of women in the criminal justice system, both as victims and offenders.

B. Masculinities: Discussion – Sydney Gay Hate Crimes

This seminar focuses on the relatively recent theoretical analysis of the relationship between masculinity and crime. We will discuss male victims of sexual violence; in particular the spate of what have become known as ‘gay hate crimes’ in Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s.


A. Corporate and white-collar crime

This seminar considers corporate crime from theoretical and practical perspectives. the reading from Croall provides an introduction to issues associated with corporate crime. Readers are requested to provide examples of corporate criminality for discussion in this seminar.

B. State crime: Discussion – Lessons from ICAC

Readers will be required to apply theories of corporate crime and state crime to the allegations in recent ICAC hearings on corruption by Eddie Obeid.


A. Environmental crime

Environmental crime or ‘eco-crime’ has become a significant area of academic pursuit in recent years within criminology. This is due in part to the advocacy of the climate change movement, but also to the depth and seriousness of global environmental harms, and the destruction of eco-systems and species. We will look into a range of environmental harms associated with ‘green’, ‘brown’ and ‘white’ issues.

B. Republican Theory and Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice offers a radical critique of the criminal justice system. But more than this, it offers an alternative to the established system. This seminar will examine the issues and research around Restorative Justice.


A. Cultural Criminology

Cultural criminologists challenge the assumptions underlying much of mainstream criminology. Through exploring ‘the many ways in which cultural forces interweave with the practice of crime and crime control in contemporary society’, they emphasize ‘the centrality of meaning, representation, and power in the contested construction of crime’ (Ferrell et al 2008:2). This seminar will take us back to the beginning of the topic as we reflect on our own interpretations and understandings of crime, and in light of the ‘nothing works’ refrain from the Martinson (1974) reading in Week 7.

B. Review

In this seminar we will review the main topics from the topic through various activities designed to help you cement the criminological knowledge you have acquired.


Related Work and Conclusions


Notes and References

  1. Information about Criminology in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia

See Also

  • Social Problem
  • Crime
  • Delinquency
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Delinquent
  • Social Issues
  • Crime Prevention

Bittner, Egon; Broken-Windows Policing; Community-Oriented Policing: Effects and Impacts; Crime Analysis; Crime Mapping; Criminal Careers; Fingerprinting; Hot Spots; Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment; Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment; Police Reform: 1950–1970; Problem-Oriented Policing

References (Papers)

  • The Impact Of Incarceration And Societal Reintegration On Mental Health, Veronica Wicks, Jun 2017
  • The Irrational Actor In The Ceo Suite: Implications For Corporate Governance, Renee M. Jones, Jun 2017
  • The Effect Of Phenotypic Bias On Lineup Construction Fairness, Sydney Y. Wood, May 2017
  • Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversastions, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon, May 2017
  • 59. Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversations, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon, May 2017
  • Tattoos And Criminal Behavior: An Examination Of The Relationship Between Body Art And Crime, Daniel D. Dajani, May 2017
  • Challenging The Credibility Of Alleged Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse In Scottish Courts, Zsofia Szojka, Samantha J. Andrews, Michael E. Lamb, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon, May 2017
  • Pragmatic Failure And Referential Ambiguity When Attorneys Ask Child Witnesses “Do You Know/Remember” Questions, Angela D. Evans, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon, May 2017
  • Buying Happiness: Property, Acquisition, And Subjective Well-Being, David Fagundes, May 2017
  • Las Reglas Predeterminadas De Decisión En El Derecho, Daniel A. Monroy, Apr 2017
  • I Share, Therefore It’s Mine, Donald J. Kochan, Apr 2017
  • The Effects Of The Hypothetical Putative Confession And Negatively-Valenced Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’s Dislcosure Of A Minor Transgression, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon, Apr 2017
  • May It Please The Court?: The Perils Of Correcting A Justice’s Pronunciation, James J. Duane, Apr 2017
  • Law And Identifiability, Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir, Ilana Ritov, Tehila Kogut, Apr 2017
  • Digging Into The Foundations Of Evidence Law, David H. Kaye, Apr 2017
  • Mental Disorder And Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Morse, Mar 2017
  • Reducing The Dangers Of Future Dangerousness Testimony: Applying The Federal Rules Of Evidence To Capital Sentencing, Jaymes Fairfax-Columbo, David Dematteo, Mar 2017
  • Psychiatric Evidence In Criminal Trials: To Junk Or Not To Junk?, Christopher Slobogin, Mar 2017
  • Doubts About Daubert: Psychiatric Anecdata As A Case Study, Christopher Slobogin, Mar 2017
  • Legal Attitudes Of Immigrant Detainees, Emily Ryo, Feb 2017
  • Legal Attitudes Of Immigrant Detainees, Emily Ryo, Feb 2017
  • The Behavioral Paradox Of Boilerplate, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, Feb 2017

Guide to Criminology

In this Section

Criminology, Criminology Development (including Classical Criminology, Modern Criminology, Criminology Italian School and Independent Criminology), Criminology Goals, Biological Theories of Crime (including Crime Genetic Factors and Neurological Abnormalities), Psychological Theories of Crime (including Moral Development Theories, Social Learning Theories and Personality Theories), Environmental and Social Theories of Crime (including Social Causes, Social-Structural Theories, Subcultural Theories and Economic Causes of Crime) and Criminal Opportunity.

Hierarchical Display of Criminology

Science > Humanities > Behavioural sciences
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Crime
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Delinquency
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Violence
Law > Criminal law > Criminal law
Social Questions > Health > Medical science > Medicine > Forensic medicine


Concept of Criminology

See the dictionary definition of Criminology.

Characteristics of Criminology

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Translation of Criminology

Thesaurus of Criminology

Science > Humanities > Behavioural sciences > Criminology
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Crime > Criminology
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Delinquency > Criminology
Social Questions > Social affairs > Social problem > Violence > Criminology
Law > Criminal law > Criminal law > Criminology
Social Questions > Health > Medical science > Medicine > Forensic medicine > Criminology

See also