Search our site
Search our site

Doing Criminological Research

  • Module code: CM5007
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None


What kind of criminologist are you? How does this relate to the kind of research that you want to conduct? This module will focus on exploring different ways of approaching criminology, ranging from ‘interventionist' criminology to critical criminology, left realism and theoretical research. We will assess how these different approaches relate to different kinds of criminological method. We will build on your existing research skills, developed at level 4, by extending your academic engagement with methods and particularly the distinct kinds of data that they produce. You will be asked to reflect critically on a particular criminological theme, then you will be guided through producing a short piece of empirical research that tests one of the methods you have studied in an area of your own interest. Finally, this module will act as a bridge to level 6 by helping you to produce a research proposal for your final year dissertation. This will enable you to start thinking about and reading for your dissertation over the summer. Ultimately, on completion of this module you will have developed core research and employability skills around research methods, their implications and application, and will have demonstrated the ability to plan, design and conduct a piece of independent research.


  • To develop an understanding of the different kinds of criminological research that it is possible to conduct
  • To reflect intellectually and analytically on different methods
  • To design and conduct a short piece of criminological research
  • To prepare a sound proposal for the final year dissertation

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Identify and critically assess different criminological approaches
  • Understand the relationship between particular research methods and the kind of data they produce
  • Assess the suitability of particular research methods for certain kinds of project
  • Plan and design a piece of independent research
  • Demonstrate research skills applicable to future study and employability

Curriculum content

  • Situational crime prevention
  • Community safety
  • Developmental and life course criminology
  • Exclusion and difference
  • Fear of crime
  • Left realism
  • Victimology
  • Cultural criminology
  • Interviews, narrative and turning points
  • Text mining, coding and discourse analysis
  • Surveys and quantification
  • Archival research and official records
  • Theoretical and desk-based research
  • Research design
  • Research ethics for criminologists
  • Power, risk and vulnerable populations
  • Writing a literature review and report
  • Writing a research proposal

Teaching and learning strategy

This module combines weekly two hour workshops with guided independent learning and fieldwork. The workshops will follow a lecture / seminar format in which you will be introduced to the themes of the topic and go on to engage with them through practical examples, in order to develop the research skills necessary for successful completion of the later stages of the module. Initially we will start to develop an appreciation of the different kinds of criminology that are possible. We will then concentrate on extending academic and critical understanding of the themes and methods under consideration and exploring the relationship between particular research orientations and research strategies. A central part of the module will be the focus on research ethics for criminologists, with recognition of the particular challenges of the discipline regarding the safety of the researcher, as well as the vulnerable populations that often form the subject of study. Once this has been successfully completed you will be assisted in designing and conducting a short piece of research to test the methods or approach you have selected, before applying this experience to the production of a full research proposal for the level 6 dissertation.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Workshops and research support (3hrs x 22 weeks) 66
Guided independent study Preparation and conduct of fieldwork; note taking, research and critical reflection and production of assessment 234
Study abroad / placement N/A N/A
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

You will complete three summative assessments for this module: a critical reflection on a research theme of your choice, generated with assistance from the module team; a short research project, which will develop this interest by testing a particular method as a way of engaging with your chosen area of research; and a research proposal for the level 6 dissertation, which you will undertake the following year. You will also have the opportunity to complete a formative research proposal before you undertake the research project in order to get feedback on your initial ideas.

Critical Reflection: 1000 words (25%)

Draft Research Proposal (formative)

Research Project: 3000 words (60%)

Dissertation Proposal: 500 words (15%)

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Identify and critically assess different criminological approaches Critical Reflection
2) Understand the relationship between particular research methods and the kind of data they produce Research Project
3) Assess the suitability of particular research methods for certain kinds of project Research Project, Dissertation Proposal
4) Plan and design a piece of independent research Research Project, Dissertation Proposal

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Critical reflection 1000 words 25
CWK Research project 3000 words 60
CWK 500 words dissertation proposal 15
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Crow, I. and Semmens, N. (2007) Researching Criminology. Maidenhead: Open University Press. 

Gadd, S., Karstedt, S. and Messner, S.F. (2011) The Sage Handbook of Criminological Research Methods. London: Sage.

Westmarland, L. (2011) Researching Crime and Justice: Tales from the Field. Cullompton: Willan.

Bibliography recommended reading

Andrews, M., Squire, C. and Tamboukou, M. (2005) Doing Narrative Research. London: Sage. 

Atlas, R.I. (2008) 21st Century Security and CPTED: Designing for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Crime Prevention. Boca Raton FL: Auerbach. 

Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project (5th edition). Buckingham: Open University Press. 

Bottoms, A. (2012) ‘Developing Socio-Spatial Criminology', in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Bruner, J.S. (1987) 'Life as Narrative', Social Research, 54(2): 11-32. 

Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods (3rd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Burman, M.J., Batchelor, S.A., and Brown, J.A. (2001) ‘Researching Girls and Violence: Facing the Dilemmas of Fieldwork', British Journal of Criminology, 41(3): 443-59. 

Carlsson, C. (2012) ‘Using "Turning Points" to Understand Processes of Change in Offending', British Journal of Criminology, 52(1): 1-16. 

Carrabine, E. (2012) ‘Just Images? Aesthetics, Ethics and Visual Criminology', British Journal of Criminology, 52(3): 463-89. 

Clarke, R.V. (1980) ‘Situational Crime Prevention: Theory and Practice', British Journal of Criminology, 20(2): 136-47. 

Colvin, S. (2015) ‘Why Should Criminology Care About Literary Fiction? Literature, Life Narratives and Telling Untellable Stories', Punishment and Society, 17(2): 211-29. 

Crowe, T.D., revised by L.J. Fennelly (2013) Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, third edition. Kidlington: Elsevier. 

Denscombe, M (2007) The Good Research Guide for small scale social research projects. (3rd edition). Buckingham: Open University Press. 

Diphoorn, T. (2013) ‘The Emotionality of Participation: Various Modes of Participation in Ethnographic Fieldwork on Private Policing in Durban, South Africa', Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42(2): 201-25. 

Evans, K. (2010) Crime Prevention: A Critical Introduction. London: Sage. 

Farrington, D.P. (2003) ‘Developmental and Life Course Criminology: Key Theoretical and Empirical Issues', Criminology, 41(2): 221-55. 

Gadd, D. and Farrall, S. (2004) ‘Criminal Careers, Desistance and Subjectivity: Interpreting Men's Narratives of Change', Theoretical Criminology, 8(2): 123-56.

Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gilling, D. (2007) Crime Reduction and Community Safety: Labour and the Politics of Local Crime Control. London: Routledge.

Gobo, G. (2008) Doing Ethnography. London: Sage.

Hart, C (1998) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Holloway, W. and Jefferson, T. (1997) ‘The Risk Society in an Age of Anxiety: Situating Fear of Crime', British Journal of Sociology, 48(2): 255-66.

Holloway, W. and Jefferson, T. (2000) ‘The Role of Anxiety in Fear of Crime' in T. Hope and R. Sparks, (eds) Crime, Risk and Insecurity: Law and Order in Everyday Life and Political Discourse. London: Routledge, 31-49.

Hughes, G. and Edwards, A. (eds) (2002) Crime, Control and Community: The New Politics of Public Safety. Cullompton: Willan.

Israel, M. (2004) ‘Strictly Confidential? Integrity and the Disclosure of Criminological and Socio-Legal Research', British Journal of Criminology, 44(5): 715-40.

Lee, M. (2007) Inventing Fear of Crime: Criminology and the Politics of Anxiety. Cullompton: Willan.

Lee, M. and Farrall, S. (2008) eds., Fear of Crime: Critical Voices in an Age of Anxiety. London: Routledge.

Liebling, A. (2001) ‘Whose Side are We on? Theory, Practice and Allegiances in Prison Research', British Journal of Criminology, 41(3): 472-84.

Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds). (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. (4th ed). Oxford: Oxford

McLaughlin, E., Muncie, J. and Hughes, G. (eds). (2003) Criminological Perspectives: Essential Readings. London: Sage.

Monaghan, L.F. (2004) ‘Doorwork and Legal Risk: Observations from an Embodied Ethnography', Social and Legal Studies, 13(4): 453-80.

Oliver, P. (2000) The Student's Guide to Research Ethics. Buckingham: Open University Press. 

Oliver, P. (2012) Succeeding with your Literature Review: A Handbook for Students. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Punch, K (2006) (2nd edition) Developing Effective Research Proposals. London: Sage.

Tilley, N. (ed.) (2005) Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety. Cullompton: Willan. 

Westmarland, L. (2001) ‘Blowing the Whistle on Police Violence: Gender, Ethnography and Ethics', British Journal of Criminology, 41(3): 523-35. 

Winslow, S., Hobbs, D., Lister, S. and Hadfield, P. (2001) ‘Get Ready to Duck: Bouncers, Violence and the Reality of Ethnographic Research on Violent Groups', British Journal of Criminology, 41(3): 536-48. 

Find a course

Course finder

Undergraduate study
Site menu