University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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About the major

Criminology is a rich discipline that draws on sociology, psychology, science, law, philosophy, culture studies and history to draw attention to the social dimensions of crime and deviancy and assess the effectiveness and implications of crime control measures. You will gain an advanced understanding of crime, criminal justice practices, deviance, causes of crime, victimisation, social control, juvenile justice, indigenous justice, crime prevention, prison and other alternatives to punishment, as well as medico-legal forensic practices.

The first-year units lay the foundation to the study of crime, social harm and the criminal justice system. Second year units will deepen your understanding of criminology theories and concepts, as well as the criminal justice institutions and practices. You will analyse key debates around crime in relation to topics such as youth, race, gender, ethnicity and Indigeneity. In addition, you will critically examine how society responds to crime through social control and the criminal justice institutions and practices.

A key focus will be placed on features of policing, sentencing, punishment, prisons and alternatives to punishment, such as restorative justice. In third-year units you will consolidate your critical analytical skills in criminology as you delve into complex relationship between crime, law, medicine and science. In addition, you will critically analyse the development and nature of criminal justice in relation to the complex interface of 'law and order politics’, the media, culture, crime and society. Finally, you will be able to apply your advanced knowledge to a piece of criminological research of your choice.

Requirements for completion

The Criminology major and minor requirements are listed in the Criminology unit of study table.

Learning outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate depth of knowledge and capacity to apply key criminological fields in contemporary societies.
2 Demonstrate depth of disciplinary knowledge of criminological theory and research methodologies.
3 Demonstrate a capacity to design and undertake critical analysis of complex criminological issues and offer original interpretation of those issues.
4 Demonstrate a capacity to communicate the relevance and application of criminological knowledge to social, public and civic policy, and collective and community processes.
5 Demonstrate the skills, integrity and personal resilience to critically engage in criminological argumentation and discuss criminological research, with a sound understanding of best ethical practice.
6 Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of their own and other worldviews through ethical participation in collaborative and interdisciplinary work.

Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in SSPS offers students the opportunity to apply their social science skills and knowledge to complex and tangible social, cultural, political and economic problems. Students will have the opportunity to apply and further develop their methodological, analytical and communication skills as they undertake primary research, learn to harness big data for critical social science research and diagnose and propose responses to contemporary and persistent social, cultural, political and economic challenges. Students will also be given the opportunity to further develop their capacity to translate social science research and analysis into effective contributions to public and policy debates.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Sociology advanced coursework units of study page.


Students are able to pursue a range of interests in criminology by undertaking Honours in Socio-Legal Studies.

Contacts and further information

Website: Department of Sociology and Social Policy
Undergraduate Coordinator: