Criminological Theory

Course - second cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2015, spring 2014

Course Code:
KA723E revision 1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Date of establishment:
01 October 2009
Date of ratification:
21 August 2012
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Health and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2013

Course description

The aim of the course is for the student to acquire knowledge in criminological theory and to advance in theoretical knowledge by transforming theoretical theory into applicable practical criminological use.

Advancement in relation to the degree requirements

The course is given in the second term of the Masters Program in Criminology and is a course within the main field of study that may be counted toward the Masters Degree in Criminology. The course is also offered as an independent course.

Entry requirements

1. Bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behavioural science or medicine.
2. English B.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to

1. analyze and compare at least two theoretical perspectives based on the concepts structure, causal order, interaction and level of explanation,
2. justify the empirical support for the theoretical perspectives that you chose to compare,
3. analyze the scientific material for the empirical support, and
4. Explain how the theoretical perspectives can be practically applied.


Active participation in seminars is compulsory. Together with an individual examination, they constitute the basis for the examination in the course.

Right to re-examination
A student who fails to achieve a passing grade in the course examination will be given the opportunity to be re-examined twice according to same course content and with the same requirements. In addition, students also have the right to be examined on the same course the next time the course is offered according to the same regulations. If the course has been discontinued or undergone major changes, the student has a right to re-examination on two occasions within one year, based on the syllabus that was in place at the time the student registered for the course. Examination and re-examination take place at the times specified in the course guide.

Course content

The student chooses an in-depth subject to study with focus on theory construction, empirical support and practical applicability. In the course theoretical perspectives will be analyzed and contrasted regarding definitions and operationalization, causality and interaction, and level of explanation. Additionally, associations between theory and practical use of the theories will be addressed.

Learning activities

The teaching takes the form of lectures, seminars and tutoring in groups. At a final seminar the student will defend a written paper and conduct opposition to other students’ papers.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Bunge, M. 2004. “How does it work? The search for explanatory mechanisms.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34:182-210. 30 s.

Cullen, F. T., J. P. Wright and K. R. Blevins. 2008. Taking stock: The status of criminological theory, Advances in Criminological Theory, vol. 15. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.50 s.

Harré, R. & Secord, P.F. 1992. The explanation of social behaviour. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 100 s.

Additional articles from scientific journals will also be included (the student chooses literature within the in-depth subject of study in consultation with the teacher)

Course evaluation

The course coordinator/examiner is responsible for ensuring that two course evaluations will be conducted for the course. A preliminary course evaluation will be conducted upon the completion of half of the course. The results will be compiled and relayed to the students as soon as possible. The results will be presented on the course website and will be relayed to students during lesson time. A summary course evaluation will be conducted in connection with the completion of the course. The course coordinator will relay the results to the students at a prearranged time. Memory notes from the feedback, including proposals for changes to the course, will be documented and made available on the course website, and will also be relayed to the students who begin the course the next time it is given.