Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 10:30 – 12:20

Lecture venue

Course description

This course introduces students to the discipline of criminology. While criminology is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating a range of disciplines from sociology to biology, psychology, politics, social work, health and law – our main emphasis in this course will largely be sociological. A sociological approach to crime adopts the view that we must question our common sense understanding about crime and its control and look at the complexities of crime at many levels. At one level, there is the immediate behaviour, and we may ask “why does s/he do it?” Or we might ask, why do certain groups of people do it? This might point to various social forces that shape individuals’ and groups’ behaviour. Yet we can, at another level, ask why we as a society define this behaviour as a “problem” for which we have decided, as a collective, to deem it a legal “problem” (i.e., a crime). Do we construct law based on “nature?” Or based on our moral values? But whose moral values are reflected in the law?

Does the legal definition – crime – necessarily mean that the behaviour is “really” beyond the boundaries of normalcy? That is, why are some behaviours considered “normal” at one time and place but defined as a “crime” in another? The consumption of opium was legal in Hong Kong and around the world at one point in time but later became a crime. What does this tell us about society and its values, politics and economy? Crime, then, must be understood, in its historical, cultural, and social contexts.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Illustrate knowledge of how to think sociologically about the problem of crime and its control.
  2. Relate theories and concepts to daily experience.
  3. Apply knowledge to analysis of current events locally, regionally, and internationally.
  4. Produce original assessments of topics/issues in criminology.
  5. Develop presentation and collaboration skills through group-based work.


Two short essays30%
Tutorial participation and group project30%

Required reading

Readings will include a series of journal articles and book chapters.

Adorjan, M., & Chui, W. H. (2014). Responding to youth crime in Hong Kong: Penal elitism, legitimacy and citizenship (Vol. 7). Routledge.

Abadinsky, H. (2012) Organized crime. 10th edition. Wadsworth.

Bernard, et al., (2010) Vold’s theoretical criminology. NY: Oxford Press.

Carrabine, E. et al. (2014) Criminology. A sociological introduction, 3rd edition, Routledge.

Cohen, S. (1994) Visions of social control. Polity Press.

Chesney-Lind, M. and Morash, M. (eds.) (2011) Feminist theories of crime, Ashgate.

Cheung, N. (2017) Defining Crime. In Chui, WH and Lo, TW. (eds.) Understanding Criminal Justice in Hong Kong. Oxon: Routledge. P. 23-37.

Christie, N. (2000) Crime Control as Industry. Routledge.

Christie, N. (2004) A Suitable Amount of Crime. Routledge.

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., & South, N. (2016). The normalisation of drug supply: The social supply of drugs as the “other side” of the history of normalisation. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 23(3), 255-263.

Downes, D. and Rock, P. (2011) (6th edition) Understanding Deviance, OUP.

Felson, M. (2002) Crime and Everyday Life, Pine Forge Press.

Findlay, M. (1999) The Globalization of Crime, Cambridge University Press.

Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, Vintage.

Garland, D. (1994) Punishment and Modern Society, Clarendon.

Gaylord, M. et al. (2009) Introduction to Crime, Law and Justice in Hong Kong. HK: HKU Press.

Goode, E. and Ben-Yehuda, N. (1994) Moral Panics. The social construction of deviance. Blackwell.

Joe-Laidler, K., Hunt, G., & Moloney, M. (2014). ‘Tuned Out or Tuned In’: Spirituality and Youth Drug Use in Global Times. Past & present, 222 (suppl_9), 61-80.

Kenny, P. D. (2018). Populism and the War on Drugs in Southeast Asia. Brown J. World Affairs, 25, 121.

Jones, C. with Vagg, J. (2007) Criminal Justice in Hong Kong. Routledge.

Lanier, M. and Henry, S. (2010) Essential Criminology, 3rd edition. Westview Press. Lee, M. and M.

Adorjan (2017) Public Perceptions of Crime and Safety. In Chui, WH and Lo, TW. (eds.) Understanding Criminal Justice in Hong Kong. Oxon: Routledge. P. 103-117.

Liu, J., Hebenton, B., & Jou, S. (2013). Handbook of Asian criminology. New York: Springer.

Miethe, T. and Hong Lu (2005) Punishment: A Comparative Historical Perspective, Cambridge University.

Maguire, M. et al. (2012) Oxford Handbook of Criminology, OUP. McLaughlin, E. et al.

(2003) Criminological Perspectives: Essential Readings. 2nd edition. Sage. Morrison, W.

(2013) What is Crime? Contrasting Definitions and Perspectives. In Hale, C. et al., (eds). Criminology. NY: Oxford University Press. P. 3-22.

Walklate, S. (2007) Handbook of Victims and Victimology. Willan.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

In this course, there were many guest speakers from different backgrounds such as NGOs, social workers and even criminologists from other countries. The course is not only about criminology theories, but allows us to understand how these theories can be applied to practice, which provides many important insights.

– Tina Lau, 4th year Sociology Major undergraduate student