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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 07/06/2021 09:30:34

Title of Module: Criminal Careers

Code: CRIM09020 SCQF Level: 9
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:M  Sapouna

Summary of Module

This module will examine crime from a life-course perspective. Central to this perspective is the idea that a criminal career has many stages - start, duration and end - each of which requires a different explanation. The module will attempt to answer challenging questions such as: Why does crime peak in adolescence? Do some people start offending later than usual and how are they similar or different to people who start offending in adolescence? Why do some people continue offending for a long time while others stop? How can the criminal justice system support people to stop offending? Can people involved in sexual offending stop offending?

These topics will be explored through real-life case studies drawn from the module coordinator's own research.

The module will provide you with the opportunity to develop a range of graduate attributes particularly those relating to becoming work-ready as stated in the I AM UWS framework ( through:

- developing ideas for new social enterprises that can support people to reduce their offending behaviour as part of the policy brief assessment thus enabling students to become enterprising and transformational.

- developing applied skills for example in risk assessment and motivational interviewing that support students to become knowledgeable and influential in their future practice. 

Students will also be supported to become collaborators and effective communicators through participation in groupwork. 


Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2check markTerm 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Critically analyse life-course explanations of criminal behaviour.

L2. Critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of research methods used to study crime over the life-course.

L3. Critically explain how criminal behaviour starts, changes and stops as individuals move through time and space.

L4. Critically apply knowledge of pathways into and out of crime to evaluate current prevention and intervention policies in Scotland and beyond.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 9.

Students will develop an extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of life-course theories, concepts and methodologies informed by research at the forefront of present knowledge.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 9.

Students will apply life-course criminological theories to critically explain why people start offending, and why they stop and evaluate new developments in criminal justice policy and practice. This will enable students to develop and implement high-quality interventions and policies in the criminal justice field in the future.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 9.

Students will apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to complex issues at the forefront of the study of criminological theory.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 9.

Students will develop their ICT skills through the use of online research engines and tools such as Moodle. They will practise their oral communication skills by delivering a presentation and interacting with peers during the workshops.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 9.

Students will exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in carrying out learning activities.

Students will take responsibility for own work and contribute to the collective learning activities of the group.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
Learning and teaching will take place via interactive lectures that will introduce key theoretical ideas and related criminological issues and policies. A series of workshops will also take place to allow learners to discuss and give feedback on the short pieces of work (patches) they will each have to submit at regular intervals during the module. Students will use these patches in the final summative assessment. A small number of seminars will also be organised to enable more focused discussion of the material presented at lectures. Learners will be asked to read some key texts and consider themes for discussion prior to attending each seminar. In addition to class discussion, students will be encouraged to make use of the VLE site to listen to mini virtual lectures that provide more in-depth information and take part in online activities such as discussion boards. Students will be provided with formative feedback on their input to the workshops and online discussion boards.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Asynchronous Class Activity48
Independent Study116
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Benson, M. (2012) Crime and the Life Course: An Introduction. New York: Roxbury/Routledge.

Laub, J.H. and Sampson, R.J. (2003) Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70. Cambridge: Harvard University. Press.

Road from Crime, documentary, viewed 14 February 2017,

Barr, U. (2019) Desisting sisters: gender, power and the criminal (in)justice system, Cham, Switzerland : Palgrave Macmillan.

Soothill, K., Fitzpatrick, C., and Francis, B. (2009) Understanding Criminal Careers. Devon: Willan Publishing.

Carlsson, C. and Sarnecki, J. (2016) An Introduction to Life-Course Criminology. London: Sage Publications.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelUG Social Sciences - Politics & Criminal Justice
ModeratorH Myles
External ExaminerW Graham
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Patchwork policy brief of 3,000 words (100%)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Report of practical/ field/ clinical workcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark1000
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.