The subject of Criminology does require some explanation, especially as most people will not have studied it in any rigorous shape or form before coming to University. Even at undergraduate level it is relatively new, with the first courses materialising in the 1990s and we at the University of Lincoln have been among the pioneers of Criminology as a single honours undergraduate degree subject. Whilst there is a history to Criminology at postgraduate level, and academic criminological texts have been penned for well over a century, there is something new and exciting about it is a contemporary undergraduate subject.

So what is Criminology? Perhaps it is best to start with what it is not. Criminology is not about 'catching crooks'. Criminology will not equip you with the wherewithal to nail your man, woman, child, organisation or nation-state. It will not instruct you in the art of offender profiling or engage in any easy quick fixes to the 'crime problem'. One of the fundamental challenges of Criminology is the very complexity of crime and the realisation that 'common sense' solutions may often be misguided, limited or even 'wrong' responses to the problem of crime.

A key Criminological word is 'why'? For example the twentieth century is often characterised as the most violent in history, with more than its share of wartime genocide, ethnic cleansing and industrial 'disasters', alongside serial killing, mass murder, rape, assault, torture and hooliganism, as well as routine swindling and theft. And yet it is unclear whether it is always the most harmful of these activities which attract the attention of the criminal justice system. Criminology asks the question why certain activities are criminalized in the first place, and why and how these may change over time. For example, the currently changing complexions of 'war crime' and 'corporate killing' may challenge conventional thinking. Clearly such questions require both historical and extremely contemporary answers, and only serve to underline the dynamic potential of the discipline of Criminology.

In addition to asking questions, Criminology is about putting forward coherent and well thought out solutions, whether your own or others. With that in mind we have an active involvement with the local criminal justice network, involving visits, seminars, expert speakers and 'hands on' projects.

Criminology draws heavily on a range of disciplines and perspectives including sociology, history, geography, philosophy, social policy and politics and, in that respect, provides a useful pivot to explore the inter-related and multi-faceted nature of society. It therefore constitutes an excellent grounding in ideas, arguments and knowledge, in the context of disciplined and focused enquiry into crime, punishment, victims and justice.

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School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Science, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS
tel: + 44 (0)1522 882000