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Subject details

After successfully completing this subject you should be able to:

  1. understand the causal process that generated life on earth
  2. understanding the origins of sex differences in humans and why men are more likely to commit violent crimes
  3. understand the evolutionary origins of aggression, rape, child neglect and abuse, and warfare
  4. more fully understand how evolved creatures are designed to responsive to the environment, and thus understand that the nature/nurture debate is a false dichotomy
  5. have developed a more functional approach to understanding human behaviour, so that what seem like obvious "errors" or "biases" are often the result of complicated processes that are not well understood by psychologists but useful to those that possess them.
    • The origins of life, and the logic of natural selection
    • Evolutionary psychology: understanding the human mind
    • Kin selection and family conflict
    • The origins of sex and the mammalian model
    • Animal aggression
    • Humans as mammals
    • Crimes against children
    • Jealousy and sex crimes from an evolutionary perspective
    • Adaptive function of anger
    • Male-on-male status aggression
    • Criticisms and misunderstandings of evolutionary psychology
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Online assignment submission
      • Podcasting/Lecture capture
      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Web links
      • Standard Media
    • Online materials

      • Resources and Links
      • Online Assessment


This is not an introductory subject, it is a third year subject. You must have a basic understanding of the first and second year criminology subjects.

Special requirements

No special requirements

Life on earth is the product of natural selection. By understanding the process that created human beings and other animals, we can better explain human behaviour across many domains, including crime. This degree presents the logic of Darwinian selection and how that is used by modern evolutionary biologists to explain animal conflict, mating systems, child care, cooperation and group based aggression. These theories and ways of understanding animal behaviour are applied to modern humans to allow us to understand crime in a new way: as the result of a mind designed by natural selection for an evolutionary past that no longer exists. The subject will cover evolutionary explanations of status-related aggression, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, warfare, punishment, and the origins of morality and justice.

  • Online Exam (20%)
  • Invigilated Exam (60%)
  • Minor Essay (20%)

Textbooks are not required.

Related degrees

undergraduate GRF-CCJ-DEG-2018

Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

  • Core Subjects
  • Compulsory Subjects
  • Major in Criminal Justice