Areas of Criminology

Just as is the case with criminology careers, the principles that form the foundations of modern criminology are wide ranging and multifaceted. Obviously, criminologists study crime and the best ways of reducing it; that's what the essence of criminology boils down to. Having said that, though, there are all kinds of factors, elements, and disciplines that play a part in modern criminology, and areas of study for future criminologists will be both broad and diverse.

In this article, we'll discuss some of the main areas of study a person is likely to encounter on the road to any number of criminology careers.

Behavioral science is one of the main areas of concentration encountered when studying for a career in criminology. Actually, although many people use the term behavioral science, the precise, correct term is actually behavioral sciences because the field covers many disciplines. In fact, it could be argued that criminology is predominantly made up of components from the world of behavioral sciences.

While there are some areas of technical knowledge, such as how to operate computer hardware and software, which don't fall under this rubric, or familiarity with the legal code, a large percentage of what criminologists need to know falls under the behavioral sciences classification.

Let's look at some of the subcategories.

  • Psychology is a major area of focus. This is the study of the mind and human behavior, including motivation, personality, interpersonal relationships, and so on. There are lots of subcategories, too, including educational, social, consumer, cultural, developmental, and the list goes on. Abnormal psychology is one area that will play a part in most criminology degree programs. Much of the psychology studied will apply to relating to criminals and clients of the correctional justice system.
  • Anthropology is another behavioral science often encountered while pursuing a criminology degree. It's the study of mankind on a broad, planet-wide scale. However, it usually doesn't receive as much time or attention as psychology.
  • In addition to behavioral sciences, social sciences play a big part in criminology education. Sociology is one of the main social science categories criminologists study. In short, sociology is the study of society, or man in community. Of course, there are countless aspects of modern societies; some common areas of focus are social classes, social structures, cultural habits, religion, morality, government, law and order, penal institutions, and so on.
  • In fact, many people who start out planning on entering one of the frontline criminology careers, such as a police officer or border patrol agent, become so fascinated with what they've learned from their studies of sociology or psychology that they choose a different career goal and go on to apply these criminology disciplines in academic settings.
  • Part of any program of study will be a history of penology, or how we punish or deter crime, as well as the latest theories about reducing crime, such as the highly touted broken window theory, which many credit for the massive reduction in crime that New York City experienced in the 1990s. For some career paths, practical counseling will be a major focus on top of all the psychological theory and principles studied. Also important will be studies of American legal principles, as familiarity with the laws being enforced is essential to all criminology careers. As you can see, studying for criminology careers can be fascinating and rewarding in its own right, not simply because it leads to a rewarding occupation.

Last Updated: 06/03/2014


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