Crime, Media and Culture

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 17 December 2021
07 October 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA M900 Criminology,
BA M901 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA M903 Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA M904 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCM999 Criminology,
MSOCMX99 Criminology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

The relationships between crime and the media have long been the subject of intense debate. In particular, a preoccupation with the supposed harmful effects of popular culture on public morality has been a recurring theme in social commentary since at least the sixteenth century and continues in current concerns around 'video nasties', computer games and internet pornography.

Yet at the same time the media, and popular culture more generally, are fascinated with crime, whether this be as diverse forms of 'entertainment' in such staples as cop shows, crime novels, 'true crime' stories and films or as 'news' in television documentaries, newspaper articles and broadcast bulletins to the extent that maintaining a distinction between 'fact' and 'fiction' is becoming increasingly difficult, not least since the rapid growth in 'Reality TV' over the last decade has further blurred the boundaries between fact, fiction and entertainment.

Criminologists have understood media representations of crime in three distinctive ways. One assesses whether the media through violent depictions of crime causes criminal conduct in real life. A second examines how the news media create moral panics and thereby provokes public fear of crime. The third and more recent development attends to a broader consideration of how crime and punishment have been consumed, imagined and represented in popular culture.

Each of these approaches tackles important issues and will be covered in the half option. However, the tendency in criminology has been to focus on individual media and their specific impacts on particular emotional states (whether this is increased aggression or fear). Criminologists have also often failed to interrogate the way news is consumed in as much detail as the ways it is produced.

Instead, this option offers an account of crime stories in the media that is more interested in their social character: the ways they are produced, circulated and read. In doing so it will also move beyond their symbolic meaning – by emphasising the work such stories perform in the wider social order, how they alter over time, shape political processes and clarify moral boundaries.

Module aims

The overall aim of this half option is to enable students to critically assess contemporary thinking and research on the relationships between crime, media and culture.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should:

1. Be familiar with and be able to critically assess debates on violence in the media using contemporary examples;
2. Consider how anxieties over crime are bound up with insecurities generated by changes in economic, moral and social life;
3. Understand how the attractions of certain crime narratives vary according to stratifying principles (such as age, class, ethnicity and gender) and subjective processes.
4. Have a thorough grasp of different approaches to analysing texts;
5. Detailing the diverse forms of criminal narratives found at the cinema, on television, in books and on-line;
6. Grasp the politics of news production and the obstacles that impede open communicative processes;
7. Critically assess the continuing relevance of moral panics in multi-mediated worlds and risk societies.

Module information

Please click on the link below to view the Introduction video to SC306 Globalisation and Crime

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching approach As there are still restrictions related to COVID-19 in place, some of the teaching on most modules will take place online. Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. For the majority of modules the lecture-type content will be delivered online – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your class each week. Most classes labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this). Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total for four 30-credit modules). This module SC306-6-AU will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These are: weekly questions on the key reading, which will be posted on the weekly forum ahead of the weekly session. Such questions will then guide the discussion in class. The lectures provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. The weekly classes will take place face-to-face (unless there is a change in the current COVID safety measures). You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of classes is at the discretion of the teacher.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   The Blog & A Reflection on the Blog  07/12/2021   
Exam  1440 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Anna Di Ronco, email:
Dr Anna Di Ronco
Jane Harper, Student Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood
Goldsmiths, University of London
Senior Lecturer in Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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