UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


Understanding and Preventing Crime

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session 2
Module leader
Lisa Tompson
GPA of around 3.3/4.0 (US) or equivalent
Assessment method
10-minute presentation (20%), 2,000-word essay (80%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
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Module overview

This module introduces students to the study of crime and its prevention.

It begins by considering the challenges with how we define and measure crime, and the implications these have for interpreting key crime trends. Special attention will be devoted to how crime patterns manifest in space and time and how they can be analysed. Next, the key sociological, psychological and ecological theories relating to criminal behaviour are critically examined. Lastly, the formal structures and machinery in place to respond to crime and security problems are outlined. This includes the role and functions of the police, courts, and corrections as the chief components of the criminal justice system, as well as the role of government in setting crime policy. Students will be encouraged to critically assess the strength of different theoretical approaches throughout the module.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Have a grasp of major crime trends
  • Be able to think critically about current methods of crime measurement and crime-related theory
  • Understand the key theories that relate to criminal behaviour and how these can be used to produce effective crime control policies
  • Be able to demonstrate familiarity with the British Criminal Justice System
  • Appreciate the need for evidence-informed responses to crime and the role of multidisciplinary approaches.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). Students must have completed one year of undergraduate study. No prior subject knowledge is required for this module, but students are expected to have a keen interest in the area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • 10-minute presentation (20%)
  • 2,000-word essay (80%)

Module leader

Dr Lisa Tompson is a Lecturer in the Department of Security and Crime Science. Her current research interests are translating and embedding evidence into police decision-making and training. In addition, she has a longstanding interest in spatio-temporal patterns of crime.

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