Lucy Carey, Subject Advisor
Looking at the numbers of students across the country entered for exams, A Level entries show that social sciences are still very popular and many are growing: Geography (+16%), Law (+14%) Psychology (+8%) and Sociology (+8%). A growing area of interest for students is topics relating to crime. Like many people, I thoroughly enjoyed watching crime dramas on TV this year, such as Line of Duty and Time. If you have students who are also interested in these, we offer a range of social science qualifications at OCR.
Criminology is a branch of sociology, and it’s about much more than just looking at criminals! Instead, it looks at and analyses how victims and society are affected by crime as a whole. Elements of psychology and anthropology are also included; criminology aims to use a scientific approach to better understand crime and criminal behaviour.
Many students choose to study criminology further at university, with the aim of becoming a criminologist, for example. Due to its growing popularity, there is lots of advice available about where a criminology degree can take students, and what their prospects could be. For example, they could work in the prison and probation services, they could join the police, the Ministry of Justice, a charity and more.
Let’s look at opportunities for teaching crime-related topics in OCR’s social science qualifications.
Component 03 of our A Level Sociology gives students the option to explore how crime is defined and measured. Students consider whether crime rates reflect the true nature of how much crime there is and whether it has increased through time or in a global context. They will look at who commits crime and who is the most common victim. They will also explore how crime can be reduced and punished.
As part of our A Level Psychology course, students have the chance to study criminal psychology. It’s a popular option, where students explore and contrast biological explanations for why people commit crime. They look at police interviewing strategies for witnesses and suspects, how juries can be influenced in court proceedings and also crime prevention approaches in prisons and neighbourhoods.
Criminal law and the English legal system are both included in our A Level Law. Students will look at defining a crime and the aims, purpose and principles of criminal law, before looking at a selection of crimes – including fatal and non-fatal crimes against the person. Part of the exam involves looking at scenarios and applying the law to the people involved, so students really have the chance to be analytical and show off their understanding of the law.
Criminal psychology is also included in GCSE Psychology. Students look at introductions to the different types of crimes committed in the UK and how crime is measured. They explore psychology research as to whether playing computer games makes you more aggressive, studies on whether there are criminal personalities and whether low self-esteem, extroversion and psychoticism play a role in whether people commit crimes.
If your students have a real interest in researching crime related themes, they could make this an EPQ investigation. Students could look at causes or impacts of crime, or look at new crimes that are being committed as a result of the pandemic. There is a full range and variety of crime related themes they could investigate, and this is explored in one of our blogs.
If you have any further questions about crime themes in our social science qualifications, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a comment below with any thoughts or feedback about the content of our specifications relating to crime themes and issues. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
Lucy joined OCR in September 2017 as the Subject Advisor for Sociology and Psychology. Before joining OCR she worked as a teacher as the head of Sociology and Psychology departments in Peterborough, Yorkshire and Cambridge. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving, travel and pretending she’s part of AC-12.