Conduct research about your offence type, specifically looking at ideas/theories concerning why the crime occurs (causation) with regard to a particular criminology theory that we have covered during the semester (e.g. strain theory, biological determinism).

Research essay

 

Value: 40%

Due: Friday 8th June

Length: 2000 words

The research essay is the major piece of work for the semester and marks the student’s debut as a

junior criminologist. Each student will select one particular type of criminal offence (e.g. assault, car

theft, financial fraud) and choose whichever criminology theory studied in the semester that can best

explain it. The research essay requires students to conduct research about the chosen theory and

offence using different academic sources, and analyse this research to explain the causes of crime.

What to do:

1) Pick a single offence type that you are interested in researching in depth (e.g. murder, car

theft, fraud, etc.)

2) Conduct research about your offence type, specifically looking at ideas/theories concerning

why the crime occurs (causation) with regard to a particular criminology theory that we have

covered during the semester (e.g. strain theory, biological determinism).

3) Select the theory that you think best explains why/how this offence occurs.

4) In your essay, you are required to explain the links between your chosen offence and the

crime causation theory that you have selected. Outline the reasons why you think that this is

the best explanatory model.

5) To strengthen your analysis, compare the best theory you have chosen with two other

theories and discuss why it is the superior approach in explaining your offence. For example,

you may decide that strain theory is a better explanatory model in accounting for car theft

than labelling theory. Outline the reasons that you think this – do not simply tell the reader

which is better – you must explain why as well.

6) In your conclusion, suggest one potential policy response that may help reduce/address the

crime that you have researched. This suggestion should be broadly consistent with your

theoretical analysis. For example, if you have chosen serial murder and explained it with

reference to biological determinism, you may suggest compulsory psychological screening

for young offenders convicted of a violent offence.

Things to keep in mind:

x Take the time to plan properly. A 2000 word essay is a substantial piece of writing but, once

you break it up into components pieces, it is less space than you might think. Paragraphs

should generally be around 150 words, meaning that 13-14 paragraphs will likely make up

the whole essay.

x Back up your claims with research. This means not only making a claim and but also

supporting that claim with evidence (i.e. references to scholarly sources). Good essays are

well supported by research. Aim to include 2-3 references in each paragraph in the body of

your essay.

x Start writing early. A 2000 word essay takes time to put together and you may find that your

approach changes as you conduct your research.

x Use appropriate sources, particularly peer-reviewed articles and books. You may use other

sources to provide supporting information (e.g. the ABS or BOCSAR sites for crime statistics).

Include at least 8 references in your research essay. This is a minimum requirement – higher

grades will likely have more than this.

x Do not use non-scholarly sources, e.g. random websites, Wikipedia, etc. Also remember

that this is a research essay – we want to see how well you can find your own information.

This means we want to see referencing beyond the resources that we have given to you (i.e.

your course textbook and required readings).

x Reference properly. The required referencing style is SAGE Harvard, the same as for your

annotated bibliography. Check out the link below if you are unsure how to reference

properly. Remember that material that is not referenced properly may breach your

responsibilities regarding academic honesty. Check out the link below for more advice, and

discuss any problems with your tutor. The library also runs courses on referencing if you

would like more detailed advice.

x Discuss your essay plan and any potential problematic issues with your tutor. They can

provide you with specific advice about your chosen topic and theory, and advise you on the

best approaches to take.

PICT 103 – Research Essay Rubric

Criterion High Distinction Distinction Credit Pass Fail

Understanding

of topic

Highly sophisticated,

demonstrated

understanding of the

task.

Superior

demonstrated

understanding

of the task.

Good

demonstrated

understanding

of the task.

Adequate

understanding

of the task.

Does not

demonstrate

understanding of

the task/topic or

fundamentally

misinterprets

task/topic.

Grasp of

criminology

theories

Superior

demonstrated

understanding of

criminology theory

and how these apply

to chosen offence.

Good

demonstrated

understanding

of criminology

theory and

how these

apply to chosen

offence.

Fair

demonstrated

understanding

of criminology

concepts and

how these are

apply to chosen

offence.

Basic or very

little

demonstrated

understanding

of critical

concepts and

how these

relate to

chosen

offence.

Does not

demonstrate

understanding of

criminology

theory or how

they relate to

chosen offence.

Development of

critical

argument

Highly sophisticated,

comprehensive and

well developed

argument.

Demonstrated

superior reasoning

andcritical thought.

Superior well

developed

argument.

Some evidence

of critical

thought in

linking offence

and theory.

Generates an

adequate

argument

linking chosen

offence with

theory.

Minimal

evidence of an

argument

linking chosen

offence with

theory.

Does not

construct a

coherent critical

argument.

Appropriate use

of research and

selection of

sources

Sophisticated use of

research to support

and extend ideas.

Highly effective

integration of ideas

within published

research.

Ideas well

integrated into

and supported

by published

research.

Evidence of

appropriate

research, which

has been used

to support

ideas.

Uses the

appropriate

number of

sources but

these fail to

support ideas

in an effective

manner.

Lack of

appropriate

research.

Presentation

(language and

expression)

Highly accurate

grammar. Highly

sophisticated and

effective expression

appropriate to the

task.

Spelling and

punctuation of

a high

standard.

Superior

expression.

Good

expression.

Improvement

needed in

relation to

expression of

ideas and

articulation of

argument.

Adequate use

of language.

Numerous

mistakes in

expression or

grammar.

Sub-standard use

of language.

Substantial

mistakes in

grammar and/or

awkward

expression.

Referencing and

bibliography

Consistent, highly

accurate use and

detail of a variety of

appropriate scholarly

sources.

Strong use and

detail of

appropriate

scholarly

sources.

Generally

accurate use of

minimum

number of

sources.

Inaccurate,

inconsistent or

inappropriate

use of sources.

Referencing and

bibliography not

of tertiary

standard.

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