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Subject details

After successfully completing this subject you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between individual-level and society-level explanations of criminal behaviour.
  2. Understand the major debates about the nature of criminal behaviour, for example, the nature/nurture debate, the free-will/ determinism debate, and the person/situation debate.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the major individual-level theoretical explanations of criminal behaviour, and be able to apply these theories to individual cases.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the practical and policy implications of the theories of criminal behaviour.
  5. Understand how scientific theories can be tested using psychological experiments.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical concerns with individual-level explanations of criminal behaviour.
    • Introduction
    • Evolutionary Theory
    • Crime and Genetics
    • Bio-behavioural Theories
    • Psychoanalytic Theories
    • Trait Theories
    • Behavioural Theories
    • Social Learning Theories
    • Developmental Theories
    • Environmental Theories
    • Implications for the Criminal Justice System
    • Implications for Prevention and Rehabilitation
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Online assignment submission
      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Podcasting/Lecture capture
    • Online materials

      • Resources and Links
      • Printable format materials


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

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject addresses the question "What is it about individuals and their experiences that produce criminal behaviour?". Psychologists are concerned with how an individual’s biological make-up, personality, upbringing, current circumstances and so forth produce criminal behaviour. The subject examines criminal behaviour in terms of nine theoretical perspectives: evolutionary theories, genetic theories, biobehavioural theories, psychodynamic theories, trait theories, behavioural theories, social learning theories, moral development theories, and environmental theories. The subject also examines the implications of these theories for three areas criminology: the functioning of the criminal justice system, crime prevention, and the rehabilitation of offenders.

  • Online Quiz (20%)
  • Case Study (40%)
  • Exam (40%)

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

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