Criminological Theory

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Course Number: CRIMLJUS 7230
Course Name: Criminological Theory (Online)
Course Description:    An extensive examination of the criminological theories and empirical research that support and challenge these explanations of criminal behavior; the central concepts and hypotheses of each theory, and the critical criteria for evaluating each theory in terms of its empirical validity.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Learning Outcomes

The course has four major objectives:

  • To discuss, through description and analysis, the philosophical assumptions of various criminological theories. The readings present comprehensive analysis of current theories and represent the policy implications of each.
  • To provide a clear picture of how crime is measured and what types of crime are most frequent and costly to society. The readings present techniques for measuring the amount of crime (e.g., official crime statistics, victimization surveys, and self-reported surveys), crime and its cost (e.g., crimes of violence, property crimes, white-collar crimes, organized crime, and victimless crimes), and the dimensions of crime (e.g., regional variations in crime rates within the United States, variations in crime rates by community, temporal variations in crime rates, and variations in crime rates by sex, age, race, and social class).
  • To present you with the history of criminological thought from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century schools of criminology (classicism and positivism) through the twentieth century. The areas covered include biological and psychological factors, as well as social and economic bases of crime (e.g., social disorganization theory, relative deprivation theory, anomie theory, strain theory, differential opportunity theory, subculture of violence theory, southern culture of violence, gender socialization, doing gender, power-control theory, feminist theory); social control and commitment to social agents (e.g., drift theory, techniques of neutralization theory, social control theory); learning to commit crime (e.g., differential association, labeling theory, reward-risk perspective); opportunities and facilitating factors (e.g., routine activities theory, targets of crime and facilitating factors such as alcohol, drugs, and firearms); and criminal career involvement (e.g., life-course theories).
  • To help you understand and conceptualize criminological theory as dynamic, this course provides an eclectic collection of contemporary and classical readings that examine criminological perspectives from past to present. The readings selected are the most essential pieces of work that have had or are now having an impact on criminological theory and research. Some were instrumental in creating a theoretical tradition, others in extending or integrating existing perspectives in important ways. Additional selected readings present the policy implications of criminological theory.

Unit Descriptions

Unit 1
Lesson 1: Understanding Criminology
Lesson 2: The Extent and Nature of Crime
Lesson 3: Theory Construction: Biological and Psychological Explanation of Crime

Unit 2
Lesson 4: Social Disorganization
Lesson 5: Anomie and Strain Theory
Lesson 6: Critical Theories: Power, Inequality, and Crime
Lesson 7: Feminist Theories: Gender, Power, and Crime

Unit 3
Lesson 8: Social Control Theories
Lesson 9: Power-Control Theory and Development Theories (Life-Course Theory)
Lesson 10: Integrated Theories of Crime

Unit 4
Lesson 11: Differential Association and Learning Theory
Lesson 12: Labeling, Interaction, and Crime
Lesson 13: Rational Choice and Routine Activities Theories
Lesson 14: Career Criminals, Organization of Criminal Behavior, Community Reactions

Grading Information

Projects and Activities
Abstract and Analysis (10 at 10 points each) = 100 points
Critical Thinking (1 at 10 points and 1 at 20 points) = 30 points
Internet Exercises(3 at 15 points each) = 45 points
Research Paper= 100 points
Final Exam= 100 points
Participation= 25 points
Total Points possible = 400 points

A = 360 - 400  
B = 320 - 359 
C = 280 - 319

Late Policy
Students are expected to turn their work in on time. However, situations do arise where this may not be possible. In such an event, you may submit late materials within 48 hours of the due date ONLY IF you let me know what the problem is for the tardiness.  A student is permitted to use this grace period two times throughout the semester.  This policy only applies to the abstracts and internet exercises.

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