Criminology: Criminal Careers and Life Course Perspectives

Course - second cycle - 7.5 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2023, autumn 2022, autumn 2021, autumn 2020

Course Code:
KA912E revision 1
Swedish name:
Kriminologi: Kriminella karriärer och livsförloppsperspektiv
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Date of ratification:
12 November 2019
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Health and Society
Enforcement date:
05 October 2020

Entry requirements

A bachelor’s degree with a major in social- or behaviour sciences or medicine and English 6.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is given in the first term of the Master’s Program in Criminology and is a course within the main field of study and can be included in the degree requirements for a Master’s Degree in Criminology. The course is also offered as an independent course.


The aim of the course is for the student to acquire deeper theoretical and methodological knowledge of special interest to be able to understand the development of individual and deviant life courses. Integrated perspectives that address risks and causes of crime and antisocial behaviour in order to sustain positive health and behaviour over the life course are specifically addressed. An additional aim of the course is for the student to acquire knowledge on how the life course perspective can be used to design interventions, treatment and care strategies.


The course addresses criminological research on developmental paths of criminal careers. In the course, explanatory models of differential paths of general antisocial behaviour and of specific types of crimes in national and international contexts are presented. The course also addresses how life course perspective is used within criminology, and other research areas, as well as how different factors occurring at separate points in time under a life course effects the development of antisocial behaviour and ill health. Further, how the life course perspective can be used to design interventions, treatment and care strategies is discussed.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:
1. describe the development and central concepts of criminal career research,
2. describe the difference between the concepts of risk factors and causal mechanisms within the field of criminality, antisocial behaviour, and health and illness,
3. define the aims of the life course perspective and demonstrate how life-course perspective can be applied to criminal career research,
4. describe how causes of crime, antisocial behaviour, and ill-health, on different levels (individual, situational, caring and society levels), interact and vary across the life course, and
5. discuss how the life course perspective can be used to design interventions, treatment and care strategies

Learning activities

The teaching takes the form of lectures (learning outcomes 1-5), seminars and independent studies (1-5). Seminars that include a presentation (learning outcome 5) are compulsory.


Learning outcomes 1-4 are assessed through an individual obligatory written paper. Focus of assessment of the written paper is the student’s ability to discuss and describe risks and causes of crime and deviant behaviour over the life course. Learning outcome 5 is assessed on the basis of a presentation, individually or in groups. The focus of assessment of the latter assignment is the student’s ability to discuss and present knowledge on how the life course perspective can be used to design interventions, treatment and care strategies. Individual performance is assessed by students completing a log book that describes each student’s individual contributions. Any absence in compulsory parts shall, at the discretion of the examiner, be compensated by an individual written assignment.

To receive a Passing Grade (C, D or E) it is required that the student have passed on all the examining and compulsory assignments. Achievement of the Grade of Distinction (A or B) requires that the student have passed on the presentation (E), and originality and deeper understanding of theories and methods used in research on criminal careers characterize the individual paper and has been assessed with the grade A or B.

Right to re-take
Students who fail the exam are given the opportunity to do two re-takes with the same course content and with the same requirements. The student also has the right to take the examination in the same course in the subsequent course according to the same rule. Examination and re-takes are carried out at the times specified in the course schedule.

Grading system

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

Course literature and other teaching materials

Andersson F, Levander S, Svensson R, Torstensson Levander M, (2012) Sex differences in offending trajectories in a Swedish cohort. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health (22): 108-121. 13 p.
Blumstein A, (2016) From Incapacitation to Criminal Careers. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3), 291-305. 14 p.
Carlsson C, (2012) Using ‘Turning Points’ to Understand Processes of Change in Offending, British Journal of Criminology, 52: 1-16. 16 p.
Carlsson C, (2012) Processes of Intermittency in Criminal Careers: Notes from a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57(8): 913-938. 25 p.
Cheng TL, Solomon BS, (2014) Translating life course theory to clinical practice to address health disparities. Maternal Child Health Journal, 18(2):389–395, 6 p.
DeLisi M, Piquero A, (2011) New frontiers in criminal careers research, 2000-2011: A state-of-the-art review. Journal of Criminal Justice, (39), 289-301, 12 p.
Elder G H, (1998) The Life Course as Developmental Theory. Child Development, 69 (1):1-12. 12 p.
Elder G H, Giele J Z, (2009) The craft of life course research. New York: Guilford Publications. 372 p. Chap1 (1-24), 8 (163-186). 48 p.
Farrington D P, (2005) Introduction to Integrated Developmental and Life-Course. Theories of Offending. I Farrington, D. P. (Ed), Introduction to Integrated Developmental and Life Course Theories of Offending. Advances in Criminological Theories. (p. 1-11). USA: Transaction Publishers. 11 p.
Farrington D P, MacLeod J F, Piquero A R, (2016) Mathematical Models of Criminal Careers: Deriving and Testing Quantitative Predictions. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 336-355. 19 p.
Gottfredson M R, Hirschi T, (2016) The Career Criminal Perspective as an Explanation of Crime and a Guide to Crime Control Policy: The View from General Theories of Crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 406-419. 13 p.
Hare R D, (1999) Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc. 236 p.
Harris P M, (2011) The First-Time Adult-Onset Offender: Findings From a Community Corrections Cohort. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 55(6): 949-981. 33 p.
Irwin L G, Hertzman C, (2007) Early Child Development: A Powerful Equalizer. Final report for the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health. WHO. 41 p.
Laub J H, Sampson R J, (2006) Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives. Delinquent Boys to Age 70. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 352 p.
Lussier P, Davies G, (2011) A Person-Oriented Perspective on Sexual Offenders, Offending Trajectories, and Risk of Recidivism: A New Challenge for Policymakers, Risk Assessors, and Actuarial Prediction? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 4(17): 530-561: 31 p.
Maggi S, Irwin L J, Siddiqi A, Hertzman C, (2010) The Social determinants of early child development: An overview. Journal of paediatrics and child health, 46: 627-635. 9 p.
Mortimer J T, Shanahan M J, (2007) Handbook of the Life Course. Kluwer Academic, New York. Selected parts. Chapt. 1 (3-19), Chap.17 (369-388). 35 p.
McGloin J M, Sullivan C J, Piquero A R, Blokland A, Nieuwbeerta P, (2011) Marriage and offending specialization: Expanding the impact of turning points and the process of desistance. European Journal of Criminology, 5(8): 361-376. 15 p.
Nagin DS, (2016) Group-based Trajectory Modelling and Criminal Career Research, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 356-371. 15 p.
Olds DL (2007) Preventing Crime with Prenatal and Infancy Support of Parents: The Nurse-Family Partnership, Victims and Offenders, 2:2, 205-225. 20 p.
Olds DL, Hill PL, O'Brien R, Racine D, Moritz P, (2003) Taking preventive intervention to scale: The Nurse Family Partnership. Cognitive and Behavioral Science, 10:278–290. 12 p.
Piquero N L, Benson M L, (2004) White-collar crime and criminal careers: specifying a trajectory of punctuated situational offending. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 20: 148-165. 18 p.
Piquero A R, Daigle L E, Gibson C, Piquero N L, Tibbetts S G, (2007) Research Note. Are Life-Course-Persistent Offenders At Risk for Adverse Health Outcomes? Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 44(2): 185-207. 22 p.
Piquero A, Farrington D, Blumstein A, (2007) Key Issues in Criminal Career Research. New Analyses of the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 217 p.
Piquero A, Jennings W G, Barnes J C, (2012) Violence in criminal careers: A review of the literature from a developmental life-course perspective. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, (17): 171-179. 9 p.
Sampson R J, Laub J H, (2016) Turning Points and the Future of Life-Course Criminology: Reflections on the 1986 Criminal Careers Report. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 321-335. 14 p.
Skardhamar T, (2010) Distinguishing Facts and Artefacts in Group-based Modelling. Criminology, 48(1): 295-320. 26 p.
Sullivan C J, Piquero A R, (2016) The Criminal Career Concept: Past, Present, and Future. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 420-442. 22 p.
Sullivan M, (2016) Ethnographic Research on Criminal Careers: Needs, Contributions, and Prospects. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 392-405. 23 p.
Visher C, (2016) A Unintended Consequences: Policy Implications of the NAS Report on Criminal Careers and Career Criminals. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3): 306-320. 14 p.
Zerden LD, Brianna M. Lombardi BM, Jones A (2019) Social workers in integrated health care: Improving care throughout the life course, Social Work in Health Care, 58:1, 142-149. 7 p.

Additional articles from scientific journals will also be included, approx. 200 p.

Course evaluation

The course coordinator is responsible for conducting a summative evaluation in connection with the course's completion. The course coordinator provides the feedback to the students at the beginning of the next course. Notes from the feedback are made available to the course's students, and feedback is given to the students who will start the course in the next course session.

Interim rules

If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students are offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes