Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate Courses

100. (SOCI233) Criminology. (C) Society Sector. All classes.

This introductory course examines the multi-disciplinary science of law-making, law-breaking, and

law-enforcing. It reviews theories and data predicting where, when, by whom and against whom

crimes happen. It also addresses the prevention of different offense types by different kinds of

offenders against different kinds of people. Police, courts, prisons, and other institutions are critically

examined as both preventing and causing crime. This course meets the general distribution


200. (SOCI200) Criminal Justice. (C) Society Sector. All classes.

This course examines how the criminal justice system responds to crime in society. The course

reviews the historical development of criminal justice agencies in the United States and Europe and

the available scientific evidence on the effect these agencies have on controlling crime. The course

places an emphasis on the functional creation of criminal justice agencies and the discretionary role

decision makers in these agencies have in deciding how to enforce criminal laws and whom to punish.

Evidence on how society measures crime and the role that each major criminal justice agency plays

in controlling crime is examined from the perspective of crime victims, police, prosecutors, jurors,

judges, prison officials, probation officers and parole board members. Using the model of social policy

evaluation, the course asks students to consider how the results of criminal justice could be more

effectively delivered to reduce the social and economic costs of crime.

250. Statistics for the Social Sciences I. 

Data Science I will introduce student to the collection, management, and analysis of data. Students

will learn some basic programming in R, a leading programming language for the management and

analysis of large and complex administrative data (big data). Unlike conventional introductory

statistics courses that focus on analysis of data using commerical software packages, this course will

emphasize data collection, management, analysis using basic computer programming and with real

data common in criminal justice settings. Hands on experience will be emphasized. The textbook in

Introductory Statistics with R, second edition, by Peter Dalgaard (Springer, 2009)

251. Statistics for the Social Sciences II: Regression. 

Statistical techniques and quantitative reasoning are essential tools for properly examining questions

in the social sciences. This course introduces students to the concepts of probability, estimation,

confidence intervals, and statistical inference. The course has an applied focus and will show students

how to use the statistical concepts and methods to answer social science questions. The course will

require the use of R, a free, open source statistical analysis program. CRIM150 has been approved

for the quantitative data analysis requirement (QDA).

260. Crime and Human Development. (C).

One of the central research problems in criminology is the relationship between human development

and the likelihood of committing crime. This course will examine the tools for measuring the onset of

crime, its persistence, intermittency, and desistence. These tools include the study of birth cohorts of

everyone born in a certain time and place, life course studies of juvenile delinquents and nondelinquents,

trajectory analysis of people studied from pre-school through middle age, and interviews

with 70 year old former delinquents who reflect on how their life-course affected the crimes they

committed. This course will also examine the research findings that have been produced using these

tools. Students will be asked to consider what these findings imply for major theories of crime

causation as well as policies for crime prevention.


Is there a "natural-born killer"? Why don't psychopaths have a conscience? And is it morally wrong for

us to punish those who are biologically-wired for a life of crime? This interdisciplinary biosocial course

argues that answers to these inscrutable questions can be found in the fledging field of

"neurocriminology". This new sub-discipline brings together the social, clinical, and neurosciences to

help us better understand, predict, and prevent future crime. We will explore the biosocial bases to

crime and violence, analyze controversial neuroethical, legal and philosophical issues surrounding

neurocriminology, and take a field trip to prison. This interdisciplinary course presents perspectives

from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, criminology, sociology, law, business, public health,

psychiatry, anthropology, neuroimaging, neuroendocrinology, forensics, nutrition, and pediatrics. It is

suitable for those without a background in biology or criminology. It is particularly relevant for majors in

Criminology, Psychology, Nursing, and Biological Basis of Behavior.

280. (SOCI380, URBS280) Neighborhood Dynamics of Crime. (B).

Crime varies in time, space and populations as it reflects ecological structures and the routine social

interactions that occur in daily life. Concentrations of crime can be found among locations, with

antisocial activities like assaults and theft occurring at higher rates because of the demographic

make-up of people (e.g. adolescents) or conflicts (e.g. competing gangs), for reasons examined by

ecological criminology. Variation in socio-demographic structures (age, education ratios, and the

concentration of poverty) and the physical environment (housing segregation, density of bars, street

lighting) predicts variations between neighborhoods in the level of crime and disorder. Both

ethnographic and quantitative research methods are used to explore the connections between the

social and physical environment of areas and antisocial behavior.

300. Law and Criminal Justice. (C).

This course explores constitutional criminal procedure or the law of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth

Amendments to the United States Constitution. Topics included the laws and rules associated with

search and seizure, arrest, interrogation, the exclusionary rule, and deprivation of counsel. Social

science evidence that supports or raises questions about legal doctrine will be examined. No

prerequisites are required.

SM 410. (CRIM610, SOCI410) Research Seminar in Experiments in Crime and Justice. (A)

Prerequisite(s): Any statistics or research methods courses leading to familiarity with Excel,

SPSS, R, Stata, SAS, Matlab, or NumPy.

This seminar focuses on examining data from experiments in criminology including: randomized

controlled trials of criminal justice policies, "natural" experiments in crime, and other quasiexperimental

studies. A series of experiments conducted by Penn scholars and elsewhere will be

examined. This seminar also guides criminology majors in writing a research proposal for their thesis.

Students will learn about how to formulate a research question, develop a review of the literature, and

how to apply necessary empirical methods. The final paper for this course will be a research proposal

that can serve as the basis for the student's senior thesis and to satisfy the senior capstone

requirement. Readings will come from the disciplines of criminology, sociology, psychology,

economics, and urban planning.