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Understanding the Origins of Crime

Griffith University via Open2Study

This course may be unavailable.


Criminologists, like scientists generally, agree that life resulted from a process of natural selection. But most do not use that information when studying what crime is and why it exists. In this course, you will learn the process of natural selection and how it can be used to make sense of criminal behaviour.

We will use the theory of evolution to make sense of a broad range of crimes including several types of homicide, child abuse and neglect, spousal assault and group level aggression such as warfare, hooliganism, rioting, and gang fights.

What will I learn?
  • What natural selection is and how to predict what it will do
  • The definition of “biological functionality” and some of the common misconceptions about it
  • Some of the basic lessons we can learn about our species and crime from an understanding of Darwinian theory
  • Why kin murder is so rare, but the reasons it does occur
  • Some of the reasons infanticide and child neglect occur
  • The origins of jealousy and its relationship to spousal homicides
  • The characteristics of a “typical” homicide
  • Why status is so important and how it relates to aggression
  • War and warriorship, and examples from across the animal kingdom
  • How natural selection rewards warfare
  • How pathogens relate to war in the modern world

This course requires approximately 2 - 4 hours of study per week, but can vary depending on the student. This includes watching videos, and taking quizzes and assessments.

If you pass this course you'll receive a Certificate of Achievement. While this certificate isn't a formal qualification or credit, you can use it to demonstrate your interest in learning about this area to potential employers or educational institutions.

Where could this lead me?

If you're wondering what your future could look like in this area, here are some potential careers you could head towards.

  • Policing and profiling
  • Corrections officer
  • Regulatory law enforcement
  • Customs official
  • Criminal justice, prevention and corrections
  • Justice administration and policy
  • Community development & health
  • Military services
  • Legal secretary
  • Legal support officer
  • Assistant paralegal



Taught by

Aaron Sell


4.2 rating, based on 20 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Understanding the Origins of Crime

  • The lectures were good but I found the course a bit short with wanting more information. It was not a challenge at all, but a good course if you were just wanting to quickly learn some new information.
  • William Clay
    I enjoyed the course. The information was new and well presented. The format of the open2study website is consistency so you know what you are going to get when you sign up for a course.
  • Anonymous
    This course is really intriguing . The lecturer uses an interdisciplinary approach (biology & anthropology) to reveal why infanticide, siblicide, mariticide take place, and argue why humans are somewhat innately violent.
  • Anonymous
    Videos are extremely short and do not cover enough material. I understand it's a class for beginners, but it looks more like a class for kindergarden kids with an extremely short attention span.
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    Kristina Khrul
    How it is mentioned in the title, here is explained the basics of the origins of crime. The whole content was based primarely on the evolutionary theory. If you expect a full overview of all possible explanations the emergence of crimes, this class would be not enough for you, but it is perfect for beginners!

    I liked a lot how the teacher was transferring content via paintings, examples and summaries at the end of each topic.
  • I really enjoyed this course. I thought at first the course would be about Cain and Abel, or possibly Jack the Ripper or even crime in the cave with cavemen and I was closest with that thought because it actually goes back to monkeys and how there is crime between the differing tribes of monkeys and amongst each other.
  • Anonymous
    Absolutely loved this class and the professor. It was a great experience and it gives me a greater perception of not only the causes of crime, but human nature as a whole.
  • Arshia Malik
    Excellent course. Made me understand human behavior and our choices as well as the nature of crime. Some statistical data was very useful too.
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