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Criminology

Why Criminology?

Crime is always in the public eye and has emerged as a social phenomenon inseparable from our day to day lives. Studying Criminology will allow you to understand the culture of crime and workings of the criminal justice system including the police, courts, prosecution services, prisons and rehabilitation services.

Criminology is about crime and punishment. It is an exciting interdisciplinary subject that draws on law, psychology and sociology to examine how crime is defined, why people commit crimes, and how society responds.

Have you ever wondered if people are born or made killers? Or considered how the media influences our perception of crime, or thought about the reasons why many crimes go unreported? Studying criminology will answer these questions and many more.
Studying Criminology at Level 3 will enable students to develop outstanding oral and written communication skills, vital to all future careers. It will give students the ability to solve problems, provide skills of project-based research, development and presentation. Additionally, what students learn may stimulate interest for a possible career and widen their prospects in terms of higher education alongside the skills required for all employers.

Summary of content

The first unit will enable the learner to demonstrate understanding of different types of crime, influences on perceptions of crime and why some crimes are unreported.
 
The second unit will allow learners to gain an understanding of why people commit crime, drawing on what they have learned in Unit 1.
 
The third unit will provide an understanding of the criminal justice system from the moment a crime has been identified to the verdict. Learners will develop the understanding and skills needed to examine information in order to review the justice of verdicts in criminal cases.
 
In the final unit, learners will apply their understanding of the awareness of criminality, criminological theories and the process of bringing an accused to court in order to evaluate the effectiveness of social control to deliver criminal justice policy.

Units

Unit 1 - Changing awareness of crime

Not all types of crime are alike. What different types of crime take place in our society? What kinds of crime exist about which we know very little, or which are simply not reported to the police and the media? How do we explain people's reluctance to come forward about crimes of which they have been the victim? Some crimes which seem inoffensive, such as counterfeiting of designer goods, have actually been linked to the funding of more serious crime such as terrorism and people trafficking; so why do people turn a ‘blind eye’ to these 'mild' crimes? What methods have governments and other agencies used to raise social awareness of these crimes?

Many people learn about the fear and fascination of crime from the media, but is the media a reliable source of information? To what extent are we misled by our tastes in programmes and newspapers about crime? Who decides what behaviours should be against the law? Who gathers information about crime? Can this information be trusted? Can we trust our own instincts?

Humans tend to judge other's behaviour by a variety of moral principles, not all of which are consistent or based on accurate information. We gain our ideas of morality from a variety of sources and one of the most important is the mass media. Police gather information about crime; but the data can be inaccurate. Criminologists have developed procedures to learn about crime, but these too have their limitations.

Knowing about the wide range of different crimes and the reasons people have for not reporting such crimes will provide an understanding of the complexity of behaviours and the social implications of such crimes and criminality. At the end of this unit, you will have gained skills to differentiate between myth and reality when it comes to crime and to recognise that common representations may be misleading and inaccurate. You will have gained the skills to understand the importance of changing public perceptions of crime. You will be able to use and assess a variety of methods used by agencies to raise awareness of crime so that it can be tackled effectively. You will have gained the skills to plan a campaign for change in relation to crime; for example to raise awareness, change attitudes or change reporting behaviour.

Assessment: This unit is internally assessed and externally moderated. All assessment must be conducted under controlled assessment conditions and controls have been determined for each stage of the assessment process: task setting, task taking and task marking.

Unit 2 - Criminological theories

How do we decide what behaviour is criminal? What is the difference between criminal behaviour and deviance? How do we explain why people commit crime? What makes someone a serial killer, or abusive to their own families? Criminologists have produced theoretical explanations of why people commit crime, but which is the most useful? Are these theories relevant to all types of crime? What can we learn from the strengths and weaknesses of each? How can these theories be applied to real life scenarios and real life crimes?

Knowing about the different types of crime and the criminological approaches to theory will give you a sharper insight into the kind of thinking used by experts and politicians to explain crime and criminality. Public law makers are informed by theory and apply these theories to their own solutions to the problem of crime. By undertaking this unit, you will learn to support, challenge and evaluate expert opinion and be able to support your ideas with reliable and factual evidence.

At the end of this unit you will have gained the skills to evaluate some criminological theories and know there are debates within the different theories. You will understand how changes in criminological theory have influenced policy. You will also have gained the skills to apply the theories to a specific crime or criminal in order to understand both the behaviour and the theory.

Assessment: This unit is externally assessed.
Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Format: Short and extended answer questions based around three scenarios. Learners will be expected to apply their knowledge and understanding gained from Unit 1: Changing awareness of crime.

Unit 3 - Crime scene to courtroom

What are the roles of personnel involved when a crime is detected? What investigative techniques are available to investigators to help to identify the culprit? Do techniques differ depending on the type of crime being investigated? What happens to a suspect once charged by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)? What safeguards are in place to ensure a suspect has a fair trial?

The criminal trial process involves many different people and agencies. Learning about the roles of these will give you a clearer insight into what happens once a crime is detected and the process that leads to either a guilty or non-guilty verdict. There are strict rules as to how evidence is collected from a crime scene and also strict rules governing the giving of evidence in court; learning about these rules will allow you to review the trial process and assess whether the aims of the criminal justice system have been met. You may be familiar with the role of the jury in the Crown Court, but you may not be aware of the many different factors that influence jury decision-making. By undertaking this unit, you will be able to assess the use of lay people in determining the fate of a suspect and evaluate the criminal trial process from crime scene to courtroom.

A miscarriage of justice occurs when an innocent person goes to prison and when the guilty person is still free and unpunished. At the end of this unit you will have gained the skills to review criminal cases, evaluating the evidence in the cases to determine whether the verdict is safe and just.

Assessment: This unit is internally assessed and externally moderated. All assessment must be conducted under controlled assessment conditions and controls have been determined for each stage of the assessment process: task setting, task taking and task marking.

Unit 4 - Crime and Punishment

Why do most of us tend to obey the law even when to do so is against our own interests? What social institutions have we developed to ensure that people do obey laws? What happens to those who violate our legal system? Why do we punish people? How do we punish people? What organisations do we have in our society to control criminality or those who will not abide by the social rules that most of us follow? We spend a great deal of taxpayers' money on social control, so how effective are these organisations in dealing with criminality?

Most people in our society are law-abiding and unwilling to break laws. Law-breaking is frequently of the petty variety, so serious crime and repeat offending is often restricted to a few people who cannot or will not abide by the rules that most of us consider to be so important. Society has had to develop a complex system of mechanisms, processes and organisations to ensure that people do not break the law. If they do commit crime, society needs to be protected from their behaviour. These social institutions each have different mechanisms, ideologies and policies. You will learn something of their variety, how they work and their effectiveness in preventing and protecting us from criminality.

Through this unit, you will learn about the criminal justice system in England and Wales and how it operates to achieve social control. You will have gained an understanding of the organisations which are part of our system of social control and their effectiveness in achieving their objectives. As such, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of theprocess of social control in delivering policy in different contexts.

Assessment: This unit is externally assessed.
Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Format: short and extended answer questions based around applied scenarios

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