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Unit information: Key Thinkers in Criminology in 2020/21

Unit name Key Thinkers in Criminology
Unit code SPOL20036
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kirwan
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit aims to extend students' knowledge and understanding of criminological theory and debate by charting the work of key thinkers within the discipline. The unit will identify prominent and influential thinkers and follow the trajectory of their work, locating their writings in the social, economic and political period of the time, and assessing their impact on the discipline and on policy and practice (where relevant). Students will gain a detailed understanding of distinct theoretical frameworks and be able to situate these within conflicting and related bodies of ideas. The unit will include the contributions of key scholars such as Stanley Cohen, Jock Young, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Pat Carlen, Liz Kelly, Angela Davis, David Garland, Jonathan Simon, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Lucia Zedner and Paddy Hillyard.

Intended learning outcomes

By successfully completing the unit students will be able:

  • critically reflect on the key contributions made by individual theorists to the discipline
  • understand the key influences on the ideas of these individuals
  • assess the key impact of their work in terms of subsequent theorising and influence of criminological agendas
  • reflect on their contributions to affecting change through policy intervention, practice and activism where relevant

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Lectures will be run as three weekly videos (only one of which will be a narrated powerpoint, covering key conceptual/theoretical points) interspersed with interactive online activities and other tasks to be carried out by students. Synchronous study group sessions will be supplemented by reading-groups

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

Part 1: Critical review (1000 words) (30%) Part 2: Essay (2000 words) (70%)

Reading and References

Hayward, K., Maruna, S., Mooney, J. (2007) Fifty Key Thinkers in Criminology, London: Routledge

McLaughlin E and Muncie J (eds.) (2013, 3rd.) Criminological Perspectives, London, Sage

Newburn, T. (2009) Key readings in criminology, Cullompton :Willan