1. Now that you have read this chapter, how would you respond to the original question of ‘What is criminology?’ Has your understanding changed since beginning this book?
First, it’s important to acknowledge that the term criminology is, like many academic concepts, complex and contested. In answering this question, you will need to explore various elements, which all feed into the concept of criminology. These elements may cover a) the ‘triad of criminology’ (defining, explaining and responding to crime); b) criminology’s academic and non-academic influences; c) specific crime (and related) categories; d) the theories that aim to help explain crime; e) the people, organisations and systems involved; and f) the various themes and issues that cut across the discipline (e.g. differences related to culture, gender, ethnicity and so on). Importantly, to study criminology you need to approach these elements through a critical lens.
2. What is the ‘triad of criminology’?
The ‘triad of criminology’ is a way of setting out what criminology as an academic subject is all about. It refers to criminology’s three main (interrelated) areas of focus: a) defining crime, b) explaining crime, and c) responding to crime and criminal behaviour.
3. What are the academic and non-academic influences on what criminology looks like?
Criminology is often referred to as an interdisciplinary subject, in that it is shaped by several other academic disciplines. The key influences are sociology, psychology, law, social policy, and anthropology. Politics, history, philosophy, international relations, cultural studies, and human geography can also be included.
The non-academic influences include politicians (e.g. the Prime Minister), policy-makers (e.g. civil servants working in the Ministry of Justice), practitioners (e.g. judges, prison and police officers, the media), and public opinion.
4. What learning and teaching methods can you expect to experience when studying criminology?
You will study criminology in direct and indirect ways. Direct ways include face-to-face lectures, seminars, workshops, and tutorials. Indirect ways of studying include virtual learning (whether all the time as in distance learning, or alongside in-person learning) through your university’s learning environment and other sites; work-based learning, such as placements; and independent learning, either in a group or on your own.
5. What is meant by the term ‘travel partners’ in the context of studying criminology?