Introduction to criminology

This course examines the multi-disciplinary social science of law-making, law-breaking, and law-enforcing. It reviews theories and data that predict when, where and against whom crimes happen. In addition, it addresses questions surrounding crime prevention and punishment of offenders. The role and importance of police, courts, and prisons are critically examined. The relationship between criminology and policy-making will be highlighted.


Adler, F., Mueller, G.O.W., Laufer, W.S, CRIMINOLOGY, 8th edition, New York: McGraw Hill, 2013 E-mail version: TBA

Additional class materials will be posted on Blackboard periodically. Please check the course web site.


Examinations: The final grade for this course is made up of grades from three non-cumulative examinations. These exams are taken in class. The first two are given during the semester (each one is worth 30% of the final grade). The last one is given during the final period (40% of the final grade). They are not “open-book” or “open-note” exams. They are designed to encourage critical thinking about crime and justice. Excellent performance depends on your ability to integrate class discussions, reading assignments and material presented by guest lecturers.

Questions and Change of Grades: Teaching assistants will compute all grades for the class. Please address all grading questions to the teaching assistants. With the exception of clerical and/or coding errors, there will be no change of grades made after final grade sheets are delivered to the University Registrar.


IntroductionWhat is (or should be) the relationship between criminology and the making of public policy?What is the relationship between crime control approaches in any given era and the scientific and social environment?

Chapter 1: The Reach of CriminologyHow has the “global” nature of the crime problem changed the challenge of understanding and preventing crime? What are the major criminal justice challenges?What is the relationship between crime and deviance.

Chapter 2: Counting CrimeWhat are the common legal elements of all crimes? What is the importance of career criminal research to public policy? When and why did females join males as subjects of criminological research?

Chapter 3: Schools of ThoughtClassicists contend that crimes should only be measured by the injury done to society. How does this orientation relate to crime causation, treatment of offenders and utility of punishment? Contrast positivist and classicist arguments on the death penalty.

Chapter 4: Psychological and Biological PerspectivesSuppose that researchers identify genes responsible for the tendency to be violent, to become addicted to drugs or to disregard punishment. Should we provide early screening? What role should the existence of these genes play in determining criminal liability or appropriate sentences?

Chapter 5: Strain TheoriesHow well do strain theories explain middle class delinquency? Corporate crime?

Chapter 5: Cultural Deviance TheoriesHow do the assumptions of cultural deviance theories differ from those of strain theories? How well do cultural deviance theories explain crime in the Badlands?

Chapter 6: The Formation of SubculturesA cult refers to a social group made up of people who share beliefs and practices that differ from the dominant culture. For example, how can the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a polygamous sect living on a Texas ranch that was raided by law enforcement agents in 2008, be described in terms of the subcultural theories discussed in Chapter 6?

Chapter 7: Social Control TheoryCan the explanatory power associated with separate theories be strengthened by the integration of extant theoretical arguments?

Chapter 8: Labeling, Conflict, and Radical TheoriesIn the 1960’s young people, blacks, women and other disadvantaged groups demanded a role in shaping national policy. Some criminologists joined the rebellion by challenging the consensus model of crime. What effect did their alternative explanations have on changing the criminal justice system?

Chapter 9: Environmental TheoryHow do neo-classical theories reshape crime prevention policies? Are they helpful in devising strategies to combat terrorism?

Chapter 10: Violent CrimesThe position of the National Rifle Association is the following: “It is people who kill, not guns….When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Can criminologists formulate a compromise strategy to reduce the proliferation of illegal hand guns and to minimize gun violence in inner cities?

Chapter 11: Crimes Against Property…Modern day pirates are now equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, global positioning systems, assault rifles and high speed motorboats. …Identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in America, affects 10 million people annually and loss to businesses is estimated at $50 billion. …Two California high school students gained illegal access to their school’s computer. They raised their grades to A (and accidentally deleted 18,000 records!).

How can the criminal justice system meet the needs of the constantly changing forms and dimensions of property crimes?

Chapter 12: White Collar and Corporate CrimeShould corporations be charged with crimes?

Chapter 13: Public Order CrimesThe massive illegal drug economy generates $300 to $500 billion annually. Itencompasses, among other global problems, money laundering, the financing of terrorists, and the downfall of governments. What kind of research should criminologists be designing and implementing in order to assist the government in creating new drug control strategies?

Chapter 14: International and Comparative CriminologyWhat is the difference between international and transnational crime?Which of the transnational crimes form the wheel of terrorism?

Semester ReviewHigh points and low points in criminologyWhere do we go from here?How can research assist policy-makers?