Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Saint Petersburg State University


Saint Petersburg State University via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


The course "Criminology" is intended for those who want to learn about the phenomenon of crime, its scale and causes, as well as how to control it. We will consider the controversy about the concept of crime, turn to the data of criminal statistics, learn how to calculate the main indicators of crime and find out what tools are used by criminologists to identify latent crimes. We will explore various criminological theories that explain why people commit crimes, from the classical school of criminology to modern integrative theories.
Students will learn how theoretical ideas relate to modern criminal policy practices. Finally, we outline the main discussions about the purpose and social nature of punishment, as well as look at the various approaches to crime prevention and talk about the most relevant ones. Students will also learn about common types of criminological research and take part in some of them.


  • What does Criminology Study? Criminological Concept of Crime
    • In this module, we will discuss what crime and criminalization are: from the point of view of jurisprudence, philosophy of law, sociology and criminology. We will define the concept of deviant behavior, consider three traditions of looking at the concept of crime that have developed in criminology. We will discuss why crime is perceived as a social problem and evaluate this phenomenon from the point of view of the theory of "moral panics".
  • The State of Crime
    • In the second module, we will discuss how crime is measured, and what are the ways to assess how many crimes are being committed. We will consider such concepts as the crime rate, the structure and dynamics of crime. Having defined the concept of latent crime, we will look at the different types of latent crime and consider how can we count crimes that have not been included in official crime statistics.
  • Why do People Commit Crimes? Rational Choice and Situational Factors
    • In the third module, we will begin to consider the theories that explain why people commit crimes. Having proposed a classification of criminological theories, we will consider the classical school of criminology: its history and current state. We will trace how, starting with the work of C. Beccaria, written in the 18th century, criminology asserts the view of the individual as rational and capable of making an informed choice between committing crimes and observing the law. Our focus will be on the theories of deterrence and routine activities.
  • Why do People Commit Crimes? Call of Blood
    • In the fourth module, we will consider the development of biological and psychological directions in criminology. Starting with Cesare Lombroso's theory of the born criminal, we will see how the ideas that the commission of crimes is the result of a biological and genetic predisposition gain prominence in criminology. We will find out whether there are genes "responsible" for committing crimes, how twins help to uncover the mystery of the nature of crime. We will also dive into the causes of aggressive behavior.
  • Why do People Commit Crimes? Macrosocial Explanations
    • In the fifth module, we will consider the contribution of sociology to the development of knowledge about crime. We will turn to the ideas of E. Durkheim that crime is not a pathology, but a normal phenomenon. At the same time, we will see that the increase in crime is due to such phenomena as anomie, strain, social disorganization. We will trace the development of the Chicago School of Criminology, which contributed to the development of such a field as environmental criminology.
  • Why do People Commit Crimes? Microsocial Explanations
    • In the sixth module, we will continue to consider sociological theories, but we will move from macrosociology to microsociological explanations. We will understand whether the tendency to commit crimes is the result of peer pressure, whether it is possible to become a criminal because of hanging out with a bad company, and whether prison is a "school of crime". We will also answer the question why even the most hardened criminals do not commit crimes 24 hours a day. Finally, we will look at theories that explain why people obey the law.
  • Critical and Integrative Theories
    • The focus of this module will be critical and integrative theories. We will see how the explanation of the causes of crime is connected with the critique of capitalism. Having traced the Marxian influence on the development of modern criminological theory, we will consider in more detail the criminology of conflict, radical, feminist and "green" criminology. We will also look at how ideas from the fields of psychology, biology and economics help to improve criminological theories.
  • Criminological Analysis of Punishment and Crime Prevention
    • In the final module, we will address the problem of punishment and crime prevention. We will consider two trends in the philosophy of punishment: consequentialism and retributivism. Next, we will look at how sociologists and philosophers explain the historical development of penal institutions. We will evaluate such a form of punishment as imprisonment, and compare different countries by the number of prisoners. Briefly focusing on the general theory of crime prevention, we will talk in more detail about situational crime prevention.

Taught by

Гуринская Анна Леонидовна / Anna Gurinskaya


Start your review of Criminology

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.