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The University of Southampton

CRIM3007 Violent and Sexual Offenders

Module Overview

Would you like to understand why people - mostly men - are violent, or commit rape, or sexually abuse young children? Are people who do such things mentally ill? What might have happened to them in their lives that makes them commit such serious offences? Can such people be rehabilitated? Or should they just be locked up forever? These are the kind of challenging but intriguing questions which this third year optional module asks you to consider. It brings together theory and practice from forensic psychiatry and psychology, sociological criminology, and psychoanalysis to consider some of the possible causes of violent and sexually violent crime, and possible ways of working effectively with these offenders to help them to change.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the contested concept of dangerousness, in criminal law and forensic psychiatry and psychology, its application in criminal justice policy and practice, and its implications for offenders.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical and empirically derived explanations of the causes of interpersonal violence and of the psychological and social characteristics of people who commit crimes of violence and sexual violence.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the contested concept of offender rehabilitation, theories of desistance from crime, and their related criminal justice policy and practice implications.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an ability to think critically and independently and to problem-solve.
  • Demonstrate an ability to utilise ideas from social sciences and to understand the value of interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Demonstrate written and verbal skills of comprehension, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and debate.
  • Demonstrate research skills, including the ability to identify and gather appropriate library and web-based resources, to analyse them, and to use them to construct a coherent and logical argument.
  • Demonstrate organizational and time management skills.
  • Demonstrate an ability to work both independently and constructively with others.


The syllabus contains three substantive themes: forensic psychopathology; psychosocial understandings of offending and offenders; and offender rehabilitation. The module begins by considering the role of mental illness, psychopathy, and personality disorder in the commission of violent and sexual offending, and the use of psychological risk assessment tools, including factors in clinical diagnosis, in the management of these offenders. The causes of interpersonal violence, encompassing psychological explanations, the influence of familial and social factors, and psychodynamic and feminist theories, are then explored. The module concludes with the study of key ideas in offender rehabilitation and desistance from crime, with particular emphasis on the Sex Offender Treatment Programme.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is taught through a combination of 15 lectures and 5 double seminars delivered and facilitated by academic staff, with learning consolidated by students' private study and exam preparation.

Independent Study135
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 40%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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