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CRIM 2251: Sociological Explanations of Criminal Behaviour

This course will critically examine the sociological, socio-cultural, and socio-psychological explanations of criminal behaviour such as the ecological theories, conflict theories, control theories, and symbolic interactionist theories. Some of the specific theories subjected to critical examination will be those concerned with class and group conflict, subcultures, soassociation, labelling and gender.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish between scholarly and lay theories of crime and deviance
  • Describe a range of methods by which crime and deviance are studied empirically
  • Critically evaluate and assess sociological theories of crime and deviance
  • Distinguish between crime and deviance
  • Apply a range of theoretical explanations and perspectives to the processes by which crime and deviance are created and dealt with.
  • Distinguish between positivist and constructionist approaches to the study of crime and deviance

Course topics

Chapter titles in the book are a good indicator of the topics covered in the course. The course is organized into the following lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Criminal and Non-criminal Deviance
  • Lesson 2: Subject, Method and Theory of Crime and Deviance
  • Lesson 3: Prescientific Approaches to Crime and Deviance
  • Lesson 4: Positivist Theories
  • Lesson 5: Constructionist Theories
  • Lesson 6: Postmodernist Theories
  • Lesson 7: Physical Violence
  • Lesson 8: Intimate Violence
  • Lesson 9: Self-destructive Deviance
  • Lesson 10: Stigma
  • Lesson 11: Heterosexual Deviance
  • Lesson 12: Substance Use and Abuse
  • Lesson 13: Controlling Crime and Deviance

Required text and materials

Thio, A., Calhoun, T.C., Conyers, A. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2010.
Type: Textbook, ISBN: 978-0-205-69557-7

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet access.

Optional materials

Details of the various online resources are listed in the course modules. You will also be expected to access TRU library online resources, including journal articles and e-books. Refer to the section "library services" in this course overview for suggestions about familiarizing yourself with library online resources.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete the course, you must achieve at least 50% on the mandatory Final Exam and in the overall course.

Your final grade for the course is determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1-Unit 1: Introduction to Sociological Explanations of Criminal Behavior 15%
Assignment 2-Unit 2: Sociological Theories of Criminal Behavior 15%
Assignment 3-Unit 3: Crimes of Sex and Violence 15%
Assignment 4-Unit 4: From Privileged and Underprivileged Crime to the Social Control of Crime 15%
Final Exam * 40%
Total 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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