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Special topics in criminology – Crime and the city

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Monday 18:30 – 21:20

Lecture venue

Course description

According to the United Nations projections in 2018, 55% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. What are the social impacts of such dramatic urban growth in cities across the world? How do cities produce and respond to the new fault lines of inequality, conflict, social harm, criminality and transgression in urban life? Why do some people retreat into fortified enclaves for protection while others derive excitement from doing edgework in the city?

This course examines key questions and debates about crime, order and disorder in city landscapes. It focuses on three broad issues: competing meanings and practices of the city (the ‘what’ and the ‘who’ questions); the relationship between crime, space and place (the ‘where’ and the ‘how’ questions); and the complex mix of informal and formal social controls that influence different types and levels of crime and the urban imagination. Its overall objective is to provide students with the criminological knowledge and conceptual tools to think critically and comparatively about crime, social order and social harm in an increasingly polarizing urban context.

Course learning outcomes

  1. An ability to understand main criminological and sociological concepts and debates and associated key works.
  2. An ability to assess competing assumptions and rationales in the study of crime, transgressions and the city, and their relevance to social (dis)order, inequalities and citizenship in the local and global
  3. An ability to develop a reasoned argument and to present ideas in a clear and concise manner in oral presentation and in written work.


Course work (individual essay and group work)100%

Required reading

Adorjan, M. and Lee, M. (2016), ‘Fear of crime’, E. Chui and T. Lo (eds), Understanding Criminal Justice in Hong Kong, 2nd Edition, London: Routledge.

Graham, P. and Clarke, J. (2001), ‘Dangerous Places: Crime and the City’ in Muncie, J. and McLaughlin, E. (eds.), The Problem of Crime, 2nd ed. (London: Sage).

Cozens, P. (2011), ‘Urban Planning and Environmental Criminology: Towards a New Perspective for Safer Cities’, Planning Practice & Research, 26(4): 481-508.

Tran, H. A. (2014), ‘Urban Space Production in Transition: The Cases of the New Urban Areas of Hanoi’, Urban Policy and Research DOI: 10.1080/08111146.2014.967393

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Office opening hours adjustment