Individual Characteristics, Environment and Crime


The aim of the course is for the student to advance knowledge about criminological theory. The course also aims to illustrate how and in what way individual differences, environmental-, and social factors interact in an individual’s decisions to commit crime.

Admission requirements

1. Bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behavioural science or medicine.
2. English B


credits 100%


Syllabus for students autumn 2021, autumn 2020, autumn 2019, autumn 2018

Course Code:
KA711E revision 2
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Date of ratification:
31 January 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Health and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2018
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
26 May 2014

Entry requirements

1. Bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behavioural science or medicine.
2. English B

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is given in the first term of the Masters Program in Criminology and is a course within the main field of study that may be counted toward the Masters Degree in Criminology. The course is also offered as an independent course.


The aim of the course is for the student to advance knowledge about criminological theory. The course also aims to illustrate how and in what way individual differences, environmental-, and social factors interact in an individual’s decisions to commit crime.


The course begins with a review of criminological theories which illuminate the association between individual differences, social environment and crime. This is followed by a discussion of criminological theories and research which illuminates the interaction between individual differences and the social environment in the explanation of crime. Finally, how theoretical perspectives of this kind may be applied to crime prevention work will be discussed.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to
1. review criminological theories that focus on the interaction between individual characteristics, social environment and crime,
2. analyse the theoretical perspectives that illuminate the interaction between individuals’ propensity for crime and their social environment, and
3. discuss the favours and flaws of the different theoretical perspectives that are discussed in the course.

Learning activities

In order for the students to achieve learning outcomes 1-3, the teaching takes the form of lectures, seminars, and group discussions. Attendance at the seminars is obligatory. Learning outcomes.


The assessment of the students’ performance will be made on the basis of their participation at lectures, group discussions, written exams and the obligatory oral presentation of an individual study task. Attendance at seminars is obligatory. Absence on a small number of occasions may be compensated for following agreement with the examiner. The following will constitute the basis for the assessment: Learning outcomes 1-3 will be assessed by:

a) a written home-examination with questions relating to the course’s learning outcomes or some of the theoretical perspectives dealt with in the course.
b) an oral presentation of an independent study task that deals with one or more of the theoretical perspectives dealt with in the course.

Right to re-examination
A student who fails to achieve a passing grade in the course examination will be given the opportunity to be re-examined twice according to same course content and with the same requirements. In addition, students also have the right to be examined on the same course the next time the course is offered according to the same regulations. If the course has been discontinued or undergone major changes, the student has a right to re-examination on two occasions within one year, based on the syllabus that was in place at the time the student registered for the course. Examination and re-examination take place at the times specified in the course guide.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Brantingham, P., & Brantingham, P. (1995). Criminality of place. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 3(3), 5-26.

Bronfenbrenner, U (1994). Ecological Models of Human Development. International Encyclopedia of Education. Vol 3, Second Edition. Oxford: Elsevier.

Bruinsma, G.J.N., Pauwels, J.R., Weerman, F.M., & Bruinsma, W. (2013). Social disorganization, social capital, collective efficacy and the spatial distribution of crime and offenders. British Journal of Criminology, 53:942-963.

Cohen, L E & Felson, M (1979). Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach. American Sociological Review, 44:588-608.

Elliott, D. S., Ageton, S. S. & Canter, R. J. (1979). An intergrated theoretical perspective on delinquent behavior. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 16:3-27.

Farrington, D. P. (1996). The explanation and prevention of youthful offending. In. J. D. Hawkins (ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current Theories, 68-148. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Geis, G (2000). On the absence of self control as the basis for a general theory of crime: A critique. Theoretical Criminology, 4: 35-53.

Gottfredson, M. R. (2011). Sanctions, situations, and agency in control theories of crime. European Journal of Criminology, 8:128-143.

Gottfredson, M R & Hirschi, T (1990) A General Theory of Crime. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Chapter 1, 2, and 5.

Hawkins, J. D. & Weis, J. G. (1985). The social development model: An integrated approach to delinquency prevention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 6:73-97.

Hirschi, T. (1979). Separate and unequal is better. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 16:34-38.

Hirschi, T (2002) Causes of delinquency. New Brunswick: Transaction publishers. Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2.

Hirschi, T & Gottfredson, M R (2000) In defence of self-control. Theoretical Criminology, 4: 55-69.

Lynham, D. R. & Miller, J. D. (2004). Personality pathways to impulsive behaviour and their relations to deviance: Results from three samples. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 20: 319-341.

Marcus, B. (2004). Self-control in the General Theory of Crime: Theoretical implications of a measurement problems. Theoretical Criminology, 8:33-52.

Oberwittler, D. and Wikström, P.-O. H. (2009). Why Small Is Better: Advancing the Study of the Role of Behavioral Contexts in Crime Causation. In D. Weisburd, W. Bernasco and G. J. N. Bruinsma (eds), Putting Crime in Its Place: Units of Analysis in Geographic Criminology, 35–59. New York: Springer.

Sampson, Robert J. (2013). The Place of Context: A Theory and Strategy for Criminology's Hard Problems. Criminology 51: 1-31.

Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W. and Earls, F. (1997). Neighbourhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy. Science, 277: 918–24.

Sharkey, Patrick and Jacob Faber (2014). “Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects.” Annual Review of Sociology.

Sherman, L. W., Gartin, P. R., & Buerger, M. E. (1989). Hot spots of predatory crime: Routine activities and the criminology of place. Criminology, 27(1), 27-56.

Shiner, R. & Caspi, A. (2003). Personality differences in childhood and adolescence: Measurement, development, and consequences. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44: 2-32.

Sutherland, A., Brunton-Smith, I & Jackson, J. (2013). Collective efficacy, deprivation and violence in London. British Journal of Criminology, 53:1050-1074.

Svensson, R. (2013). An examination of the interaction between morality and deterrence in offending: A research note. Crime & Delinquency, OnLine.

Svensson, R. & Pauwels, L. (2010). Is a risky lifestyle always “risky”? The interaction between individual propensity and lifestyle risk in adolescent offending: A test in two urban samples. Crime & Delinquency, 56(4): 1006-1014.

Svensson, R., Pauwels, L., & Weerman, F. M. (2010). Does the effect of self-control on adolescent offending vary by level of morality? A test in three countries. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(6):732-743.

Svensson, R., Weerman, F. M., Pauwels, L. J. R., Bruinsma, G. J. N., & Bernasco, W. (2013). Moral emotions and offending: Do feelings of anticipated shame and guilt mediate the effect of socialization on offending? European Journal of Criminology,
10(1): 22-39.

Thornberry, T. P. (1987). Toward an interactional theory of delinquency. Criminology, 25: 863-892.

Toby J. (1957). Social disorganization and stake in conformity: Complementary factors in the predatory behavior of hoodlums. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology & Police Science, 48:12-17.

Weisburd, D., Groff, E. R., & Yang, S. M. (2013). Understanding and Controlling Hot Spots of Crime: The Importance of Formal and Informal Social Controls. Prevention Science, 1-13.

Wikström, P-O, Oberwittler, D., Treiber, K.& Hardie, B. (2012). Breaking rules: The social and situational dynamics of Young people’s urban crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (pages: 3-43)

Wilson, J., Q., & Kelling, G. (1982). Broken Windows: The Police and Neighbourhood Safety. Atlantic Monthly, March.

Additional articles from scientific journals will also be included.

Course evaluation

The course coordinator/examiner is responsible for ensuring that a summary course evaluation is conducted at the end of the course. The coordinator will relay these results to the students at a prearranged time. Memory notes from the feedback, including proposals for changes to the course, will be documented and made available on the course website, and will also be relayed to the students who begin the course the next time it is given.


The education is provided by the Faculty of Health and Society at the department Criminology.

Further information

Robert Svensson, Course Coordinator
Phone: 040-6657781
Maria O Driscoll, Student Administrator
Phone: 040-6657968


02 September 2019 - 04 October 2019 Day-time 100% Malmö Schedule

Tuition fees

for non-EU students only

First instalment: 15000 SEK
Full tuition Fee: 15000 SEK

31 August 2020 - 02 October 2020 Day-time 100% Malmö

30 August 2021 - 01 October 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö