Sociology and Criminology


Module code: L4115B
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore crime and justice in their relationship to the human brain. It examines how the neural underpinnings of our thinking and behaviour can influence, and be influenced by, interaction with the criminal justice system at all levels. The module will:

  • consider factors around the notion of a ‘criminal mind’
  • examine the roles of intoxication and addiction in driving criminal behaviour
  • the relationship between brain state and culpability
  • automatism
  • psychopathy
  • false and distorted memory
  • heuristics and biases
  • sociogenomics and the role of environment
  • the neural architecture of impulse and restraint
  • where our increasingly detailed understanding of the brain can help or hinder the principled administration of justice.

It will also look to what the future may hold for the criminal justice system, given the increasing role of neurotechnology in understanding, controlling and preventing crime. We will examine issues around the:

  • privacy of brain data
  • deep brain stimulation
  • brain machine interfaces
  • brain-scanning lie detectors
  • digital phenotyping
  • behavioural prediction.

Module learning outcomes

  • Employ relevant theoretical concepts to explore and evaluate intersections between neuroscience and criminal justice.
  • Develop and sustain theoretical and conceptual arguments about Neurocriminology.
  • Review and make independent judgements about the strengths and weaknesses of different perspectives, critically evaluating their uncertainties and ambiguities.
  • Understand and evaluate the links between brain and behaviour, perception, memory and inference.