Criminology: Individual characteristics, environment, and crime


The aim of the course is for the student to advance knowledge about criminological theory. The course also aims to illustrate how and in what way individual differences, environmental-, and social factors interact in an individual’s decisions to commit crime.

Admission requirements

A bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behaviour sciences or medicine and English 6.


credits 100%


Syllabus for students autumn 2023, autumn 2022, autumn 2021, autumn 2020

Course Code:
KA811E revision 1
Swedish name:
Kriminologi: Individuella karakteristika, social miljö och brott
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Date of ratification:
23 August 2019
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Health and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2020

Entry requirements

A bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behaviour sciences or medicine and English 6.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

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


The aim of the course is for the student to achieve a deeper knowledge about criminological theory. The course also aims to illustrate how and in what way individual differences, environmental, and social factors interact in an individual’s decisions to commit crime.


The course begins with a review of criminological theories which illuminate the association between individual differences, social environment and crime. This is followed by a discussion of criminological theories and research which illuminates the interaction between individual differences and the social environment in the explanation of crime. Finally, how theoretical perspectives of this kind may be applied to crime prevention work will be discussed.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to
1. identify criminological theories focused on the relationships between
individual characteristics, the social environment and crime,
2. analyse the theoretical perspectives that illuminate the interaction between individual propensities for offending and the social environment, and
3. argue for the advantages and disadvantages associated with the theoretical perspectives covered by the course.

Learning activities

The educational approach is based on active forms of learning. In order for the students to achieve learning outcomes 1-3, the teaching takes the form of lectures, seminars, group discussions, and independent studies. Attendance at the seminars is compulsory.


Learning outcomes 1-3 are assessed by:

a) an independently written paper (learning outcome 1-3).
b) oral discussion of the independently written paper at a final seminar (learning outcome 1-3)
c) active participation in literature seminar (learning outcome 1-3)

Focus of assessment of the written examination, the seminars, as well and the oral presentation, is the student´s ability to present knowledge about criminological theory. Any absence in compulsory parts shall, at the discretion of the examiner, be compensated by an individual written assignment.

To receive a Passing Grade (C, D or E) it is required that the student have passed on all the compulsory assignments. Achievement of the Grade of Distinction (A or B) requires that originality and meta-theoretical understanding characterize the independently written paper, and that the student have passed on all the other obligatory assignments.

Right to re-take
Students who fail the exam are given the opportunity to do two re-takes with the same course content and with the same requirements. The student also has the right to take the examination in the same course in the subsequent course according to the same rule. Examination and re-takes are carried out at the times specified in the course schedule.

Grading system

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

Course literature and other teaching materials

Brantingham P, Brantingham P, (1995) Criminality of place. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 3(3), 5-26.

Bronfenbrenner U, (1994) Ecological Models of Human Development. International Encyclopedia of Education. Vol 3, Second Edition. Oxford: Elsevier, 37-53.

Bruinsma GJN, Pauwels JR, Weerman FM, Bruinsma W, (2013) Social disorganization, social capital, collective efficacy and the spatial distribution of crime and offenders. British Journal of Criminology, 53:942-963.

Cohen LE, Felson M, (1979) Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach. American Sociological Review, 44:588-608.

Elliott DS, Ageton SS, Canter RJ, (1979) An integrated theoretical perspective on delinquent behavior. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 16:3-27.

Farrington DP, (1996) The explanation and prevention of youthful offending. In. J. D. Hawkins (ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current Theories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 68-148.

Geis G, (2000) On the absence of self-control as the basis for a general theory of crime: A critique. Theoretical Criminology, 4: 35-53.

Gottfredson MR, (2011) Sanctions, situations, and agency in control theories of crime. European Journal of Criminology, 8:128-143.

Gottfredson MR, Hirschi T, (1990) A General Theory of Crime. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Chapter 1, 2, and 5. 81 of 291 p.

Hawkins JD, Weis JG, (1985) The social development model: An integrated approach to delinquency prevention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 6:73-97.

Hirschi T, (1979) Separate and unequal is better. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 16:34-38.

Hirschi T, (2002) Causes of delinquency. New Brunswick: Transaction publishers. Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2. 35 of 305 p.

Hirschi T, Gottfredson MR, (2000) In defence of self-control. Theoretical Criminology, 4: 55-69.

Lynham DR, Miller JD, (2004) Personality pathways to impulsive behaviour and their relations to deviance: Results from three samples. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 20: 319-341.

Marcus B, (2004) Self-control in the General Theory of Crime: Theoretical implications of a measurement problems. Theoretical Criminology, 8:33-52.

Oberwittler D, Wikström P-O, (2009) Why Small Is Better: Advancing the Study of the Role of Behavioral Contexts in Crime Causation. In D. Weisburd, W. Bernasco and G. J. N. Bruinsma (eds), Putting Crime in Its Place: Units of Analysis in Geographic Criminology, New York: Springer35–59.

Sampson RJ, (2013) The Place of Context: A Theory and Strategy for Criminology's Hard Problems. Criminology 51: 1-31.

Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW, Earls F, (1997) Neighbourhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy. Science, 277: 918–24.

Sharkey P, Faber J, (2014). “Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects.” Annual Review of Sociology, 40:559-579.

Sherman LW, Gartin PR, Buerger ME, (1989) Hot spots of predatory crime: Routine activities and the criminology of place. Criminology, 27(1), 27-56.

Shiner R, Caspi A, (2003) Personality differences in childhood and adolescence: Measurement, development, and consequences. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44: 2-32.

Sutherland A, Brunton-Smith I, Jackson J, (2013) Collective efficacy, deprivation and violence in London. British Journal of Criminology, 53:1050-1074.

Svensson R, (2013) An examination of the interaction between morality and deterrence in offending: A research note. Crime & Delinquency, 6:3-18.

Svensson R, Pauwels L, (2010) Is a risky lifestyle always “risky”? The interaction between individual propensity and lifestyle risk in adolescent offending: A test in two urban samples. Crime & Delinquency, 56(4): 1006-1014.

Svensson R, Pauwels L, Weerman FM, (2010) Does the effect of self-control on adolescent offending vary by level of morality? A test in three countries. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(6):732-743.

Svensson R, Weerman FM, Pauwels LJR, Bruinsma GJN, Bernasco W, (2013) Moral emotions and offending: Do feelings of anticipated shame and guilt mediate the effect of socialization on offending? European Journal of Criminology, 10 (1): 22-39.

Thornberry TP, (1987) Toward an interactional theory of delinquency. Criminology, 25: 863-892.

Toby J, (1957) Social disorganization and stake in conformity: Complementary factors in the predatory behavior of hoodlums. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology & Police Science, 48:12-17.

Weisburd D, Groff ER, Yang SM, (2013) Understanding and Controlling Hot Spots of Crime: The Importance of Formal and Informal Social Controls. Prevention Science, 1-13.

Wikström P-O, Oberwittler D, Treiber K, Hardie B, (2012). Breaking rules: The social and situational dynamics of Young people’s urban crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pages: 3-43.

Wilson JQ, Kelling G, (1982) Broken Windows: The Police and Neighbourhood Safety. Atlantic Monthly, March. 179-204.

Additional articles from scientific journals will also be included, approx. 200 p.

Course evaluation

The course coordinator is responsible for conducting a summative evaluation in connection with the course's completion. The course coordinator provides the feedback to the students at the beginning of the next course. Notes from the feedback are made available to the course's students, and feedback is given to the students who will start the course in the next course session.

Interim rules

If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students are offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes


The education is provided by the Faculty of Health and Society at the Criminology.

Further information

Robert Svensson, Course Coordinator
Phone: 040-6657781
Maria O Driscoll, Student Administrator
Phone: 040-6657968


30 August 2021 - 01 October 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö Application period for this offer starts 15 March 2021.

29 August 2022 - 30 September 2022 Day-time 100% Malmö

28 August 2023 - 29 September 2023 Day-time 100% Malmö