Criminological Theories I: The Positive Criminal


This module introduces a range of theoretical approaches that explain crime, deviance and criminal behaviour. The particular focus is on the construction of the positive criminal.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : the ability to develop an understanding and enhance critical awareness of positivistic perspectives on crime and deviance.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Discuss the contribution of criminological and sociological research to our understandings of crime and deviance.

2.  Compare and contrast different theoretical explanations of crime, deviance and juvenile delinquency.

3.  Critique the positivistic theories of the criminal.

Indicative Content

1 Classical Criminology

Crime as free will. Social Contact, Beccaria and Bentham.

2 Biological Positivism

Explores the work of Lombroso and the Italian School of Criminology and will explore the continued attraction of biological explanations of Criminality.

3 Anomie and Crime

Durkheim, Merton and Anomie.

4 Social Disorganisation theory

Chicago School, particularly the work of Clifford Shaw.

5 Differential Association and Differential Organisation

Sutherlands critique of Social Disorganisation

6 Juvenile Delinquency and Subcultural Explanations of Criminality

Examines both the American and British research on Subcultures and Crime.

7 Matza and the Critique of Positivism

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Students are taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars. Seminar classes are based around the completion of group work exercises that aim to foster core skills associated with Abertay graduate attributes such as collaborative, team working and problem solving skills. The module also seeks to develop students’ independent learning skills through a programme of guided readings upon which the success of the seminar classes are based. All students are required to complete the relevant readings for each class and be ready to fully participate in small group discussions. While lectures provide a necessary guide that facilitates students own independent learning; seminars seek to develop their critical thinking, group work and communication skills. A 1250 word critical review of a classic criminological text assesses the first half of the module, while a 2000 word essay assesses the second half of the module.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 20
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Supervised Practical Activity 10
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 20
Independent 150

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.