Course Syllabus: Criminology at UMA (Fall 2017)

Sociology/Justice Studies 316
University of Maine at Augusta, Fall 2017

Associate Professor of Social Science James Cook
Phone: 207-621-3190 | E-mail:
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter
In Case of Emergency, contact LeeAnn Trask (621-3272)


Walk-In Office Hours:

  • Tuesdays 8:00 am – 10:00 am on the Augusta campus at Jewett Hall 120 or in the UMA Community Garden North of Jewett Hall
  • Thursdays 8:00 am – 9:00 am and 11:45 am – 2:15 pm at University College Rockland
  • Other Hours by Appointment

This course syllabus is our contract, outlining expectations for learning and the standards by which you will be evaluated. It is your responsibility as a student to read the entire syllabus and ask questions if you don’t understand a part of it. By continuing to be enrolled after the course, you indicate your agreement to abide by the syllabus’ terms.


This course’s emphasis on the question of crime explains this course’s identity as Justice Studies 316; our focus on the social and cultural factors leading to crime explains the course’s cross-listed alternate identity as Sociology 316. No matter which disciplinary heading you registered under, you will explore both aspects of criminology this semester. Together, we will review classic and recent theories and judge the fit between those theories and observable reality by delving into research findings regarding criminal behavior.


The subject of crime is contentious and when learning about crime we should expect to encounter controversy in the classroom, but here we will avoid heated confrontations centered around personal opinions about whether various crimes are morally good or bad. Indeed, we will try as much as possible to set aside our opinions and grapple with four related analytical questions.

  • First, what makes one act a crime and another act non-criminal?
  • Second, how can we measure the extent of crime in the United States and abroad?
  • Third, how do we explain why crime occurs, who commits crime and who is victimized by it? How much empirical merit do these explanations have?
  • Fourth, how have policy makers attempted to control crime and how effective have these strategies proven?


I do not expect you to agree with all the theories of crime that we will be discussing; indeed, many theories of crime do not agree with one another. On the contrary, I hope you to critically engage with each one by assessing whether the theory is logically consistent and whether its predictions correspond to empirical observations. This is the model of evaluation in the social sciences.



With successful completion of the course, you will have developed abilities applicable to justice studies, social science and general academic pursuits. You will be able to:


Better Understand the Social Origins of Crime

  • Analyze the major classic and contemporary theoretical explanations for criminal behavior in society
  • Define the variety of acts defined as crimes and explain variation in the definition of crime across time and place
  • Engage in academic conversation regarding using the vocabulary of criminology
  • Review and discuss contemporary critiques of the criminal justice system
  • Consider practical solutions to lower the crime rate


Develop Skills of Inquiry in Social Science

  • Read and evaluate professional research articles
  • Consider strengths and weaknesses of various methods used to observe criminal activity
  • Collect and analyze data on the commission, observance and discussion of crime in society
  • Critically assess the validity of theories about crime using social science research data


Exhibit Strengthened General Academic Skills

  • Think critically and write analytically about complex social issues
  • Learn to separate analytical judgment from normative judgment
  • Identify, cite and evaluate available evidence
  • Practice descriptive and persuasive academic writing



Your continued presence in class is an agreement to the terms of the course laid out in this syllabus. If you find any part of the syllabus objectionable or worrisome, please see me as soon as possible so that we can talk about it.

To be used fully, this syllabus needs to be accessed online through the course Blackboard page (at or because it contains links to web pages for readings and other resources. I do not anticipate the need to make any changes to the requirements laid out in this syllabus, but I reserve the right to do so under extenuating circumstances or as unforeseen events may warrant. Should I make any changes to the syllabus, I will let you know in advance and through multiple means — by changing the syllabus itself, by posting an announcement and by sending a copy of that announcement to your official university e-mail account.


Reading Assignments
You will need to acquire two books for this course: Introduction to Criminology (2nd Edition) by Pamela Schram and Stephen Tibbets and Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction by Jennifer Nagel. These texts are available for purchase at the UMA Bookstore ( Used copies of the Schram and Tibbets text are available online at a price quite less expensive than new copies. Other readings will be accessible from links to web pages in the online syllabus and as citations to journals you can find through the UMA Library web page.


All reading assignments for this class are required and should be completed by the date of the class under which they are listed. If you do not understand the material in the readings, I encourage you to send me a question or see me during office hours.


Internet Access

Internet access is required for this course in order to access the syllabus, locate readings, complete problem sets, use library resources, and communicate with me.

I expect you to regularly check the course Blackboard page and your University of Maine e-mail account for messages, announcements and other useful course materials. The internet is the primary means by which you should use this course syllabus, since it contains multiple links to important online resources. If you need help activating your Blackboard and e-mail privileges, call the UMA Help Desk at 1-800-696-4357.


Workload Standard
Following the accreditation standards of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Maine at Augusta has defined “the appropriate workload” for a three-credit-hour course as a minimum of nine hours per week. If you find yourself consistently working more than nine hours per week and are still not succeeding in your classwork, please let me know so that we can identify the source of your trouble and work creatively on efficient study strategy.


Office Hours and Staying In Touch
It’s really important for you to stay in touch with me during the semester, especially if you’re feeling unsure about how to succeed in class. At the top of this syllabus, I’ve indicated when my “office hours” are. These are times when you don’t have to make an appointment to come in to see me — just pop in or give me a call at these times and I’ll be happy to discuss any matters regarding class with you.


My office hours for Fall 2017 are Tuesdays (8-10 AM in Augusta) and Thursdays (8-9 AM and 11:45 AM – 2:45 PM at University College Rockland).


If you can’t meet with me during office hours, I’d be glad to make appointments for other times, too. I can be reached by phone at other times at 621-3190; if I don’t pick up the phone right away, leave a message and I’ll return your call. You can also e-mail me ( at any time. During the semester, I respond to e-mails sent to me on weekdays within 24 hours, and to e-mails sent to me on weekends within 48 hours.


Incomplete Grades

The UMA Student Handbook notes that “an incomplete (‘I’) grade is a temporary grade assigned to a course when a student has obtained permission of the instructor to complete course requirements at a later date. Incomplete grades will remain so for one semester. At the end of that period, the incomplete grade will be converted to an ‘F’ unless the instructor has authorized an extension.” I will authorize incomplete grades for students who:

  • have already completed a majority of the work required in the course
  • are currently passing the course
  • are unable to complete work for unavoidable circumstances that they document, and
  • meet with me during this semester in office hours to negotiate and agree to complete their work by a mutually agreed upon date

The awarding of an incomplete grade is at my discretion. Please see me as early as possible in the semester if you’d like to discuss this option.

Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities

If you have a disability which may affect your ability to participate fully in this course, I strongly encourage you to contact the Learning Support Services Office, your resource at UMA to ensure accessibility to this course. I believe firmly in supporting students with accommodations, but I am only allowed to make accommodations through the Learning Support Services Office, and it is your responsibility under the UMA system request accommodations promptly and well in advance of the due date of any graded work. Here’s how the process works:

  1. If you have documented disabilities which require special accommodations, please promptly contact the UMA Learning Support Services Office (phone 207-621-3066, email on the UMA campus to discuss possible learning accommodations. It is the responsibility of these professionals to determine whether you are eligible for accommodations.
  2. If the professionals in Learning Support Services or Student Support Services determine you are eligible for accommodations, I will be provided with a letter from the office notifying me confidentially that you are eligible for accommodations.
  3. After you receive approval for accommodations, it is your responsibility to contact me to make specific arrangements to fit your accommodations to the work in class. I will be happy to provide the accommodations mentioned in your letter from Learning Support Services or Student Support Services.
  4. Accommodations are not provided retroactively, and the process can take some time. This means that you should start this process well before accommodations are needed.


Title IX and Support

We at the University of Maine at Augusta are committed to providing an environment free of violence and harassment based on sex and gender. Such civil rights offenses are subject to the same accountability and support as offenses based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, disability and age. If you or someone else within the UMA community is struggling with sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault relationship violence, or stalking you can find the appropriate resources at:


It is your responsibility to complete all assignments on the dates stipulated in the schedule below. I will only reschedule a due date for a student’s work due to an absolutely unavoidable emergency such as a major health crisis, an arrest or a death in the family. For these emergencies, I’ll ask you to submit some form of record (an airline ticket to a funeral or a doctor’s admission record, for instance) documenting that you couldn’t make it to the exam. At that point, I’ll be happy to reschedule the exam or assignment with you. Any assignments that are late less than 24 hours will lose 10 points on a 100-point scale. Assignments that are late more than a day but less than a week will lose 20 points on a 100-point scale. Assignments that are late more than a week will lose 30 points on a 100-point scale.


There are three kinds of graded work in this class: 1) three proctored exams, 2) an individual research paper, and 3) DIY discussion activities.

1. Proctored Exams. There will be three exams in this class, scheduled for Week 5 (October 9-13), Week 10 (November XX-XX) and Week 15 (December 11-15) in our schedule. These exams cover separate material, and will incorporate multiple-choice, definition, skill-based and short answer questions. The exams are closed-book: you must take the exam without any looking at notes or textbooks, using other materials, or getting help from other people. The exams will each count for 20% of your final grade.


The exams are proctored, which means that they take place at a supervised site with a registered proctor. Your exams must be completed with a certified proctor during Weeks 5, 10 and 15. It is your responsibility to make time available to take the exams, to schedule the exams with a proctor and to complete your exam within the necessary time frame. The only reason I will accept to reschedule an examination is an absolutely unavoidable emergency such as a major health crisis, an arrest or a death in the family.


How proctored exams work: Although this is an online course, these proctored exams are completed using pen and paper and require you to travel to an ITV site, University Center or another location near you to take the exams. There are many locations available.

Although I’m asking you to travel a short distance to take the exams, I’m also granting flexibility within the three exam periods. You will be able to schedule a block of 3 hours for each exam at a time that works best for you within a specified 5-day period for each exam — but you must act at the start of the semester to make the exam system work. Here’s what to do:

  • All students should visit the website during the first two weeks of the semester and choose a location at which to take your exams. You MUST sign up for an exam site during the first two weeks of the semester to ensure that appropriate exam materials will be delivered to your proctor site in a timely fashion.
  • If you are living outside the state of Maine, you must also find a professional exam proctor for your exams during the first two weeks of the semester. There are many of these across the country at public universities and public libraries; if you have trouble finding a proctor where you live please let me know during the first two weeks of the semester by e-mail ( and I’ll be glad to lend you a hand. After you’ve found a proctor, visit the website and fill out the web form you find there so that the folks at UMA can get a copy of my exam to your proctor.
  • It is every student’s responsibility to contact the chosen exam location before each exam to arrange a specific day and time during each allotted exam. Students who help contacting a proctoring site within Maine should see this list of phone numbers: I will be glad to help if proctors appear unavailable using this process: contact me at


2. Individual Research Paper. At the end of the semester, you will turn in a complete research proposal with a design for a social science research project, including all elements of a research proposal described in our textbook’s Chapter 4. If you would like me to review a draft of your paper, submit a draft to me by November 6. The final draft of your paper is due by the last day of the semester on December 16.


3. DIY Activities. DIY is an acronym standing for “Do It Yourself.” You’ll be expected to turn in completed results of DIY Activities at at various points during the semester, as indicated in the course schedule below. DIY Activities will be diverse: for some activities you will collect and analyze data; for other activities you will review your peers’ work; for yet other activities you will share your reflections in discussion. DIY Activities are open-book: you may use all the resources you can find. However, the work you produce must be your own; no copying is permitted. You should also explicitly cite whatever sources you use. DIY Activities will be graded based on both how complete and how accurate they are. Your DIY Activity participation will count for 20% of your final grade.

How to Calculate your Grade:

Exam #1 (0-100 points) _____ * .25 = _____
Exam #2 (0-100 points) _____ * .25 = _____
Individual Paper (0-100 points) __ * .25 = _____
DIY Activities (0-100 points) ______ * .25 = _____
Total: = _____
Final Grade Range
A: 93 – 100
A-: 90 – 92.99
B+: 87 – 89.99
B: 83 – 86.99
B-: 80 – 82.99
C+: 77 – 79.99
C: 73 – 76.99
C-: 70 – 72.99
D+: 67 – 69.99
D: 63 – 66.99
D-: 60 – 62.99
F: 0 – 59.99

Course Schedule with Readings

All readings should be completed before the class meeting for which they are scheduled.


Week 1 (August 28 – September 2): Introductions and Expectations 

  • Reading: read entire Course Syllabus and Student Academic Integrity Code
  • Lecture 1: to be posted August 28.
  • DIY Activity #1: Introductions. Due September 2.

Week 2, September 3-9: Knowledge: How Do We Know What We Know About Crime?

  • Reading: Jennifer Nagel, Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
  • DIY Activity #2: Complete an online quiz regarding the syllabus and student academic integrity code, due by September 6
  • Lecture 2: to be posted September 3.

Week 3, September 10-16: Introducing Criminology, the Study of Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 1
  • DIY Activity #3, “Who and Why?” due by September 16
  • Lecture 3: to be posted September 10

Week 4, September 17-23: Measuring Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 2
  • DIY Activity #4, “Exam Review,” due by September 21 (special due date)
  • Lecture 4: to be posted September 17

Week 5, September 24-30: EXAM I

  • Please re-read the section of the syllabus on exams to understand your responsibility for completing a proctored, closed-book exam during the period of September 24-30.

Week 6, October 1-7: When it isn’t Crime

Week 7, October 8-14: Classical School of Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapters 3 and 4
  • DIY Activity #6: “Will these Signs Work?,” due by October 14
  • Lecture 6: to be posted October 8

Week 8, October 15-21: Biological Schools of Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 5 and 6
  • DIY Activity #7: “Following Lead’s Lead,” due by October 21
  • Complete Lecture 7: to be posted October 15

Week 9, October 22-28: Psychological Models of Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 7
  • Complete Lecture 8: to be posted October 22
  • DIY Activity #8: “Exam Review II,” due by October 26 (special due date)

Week 10, October 30 – November 3: EXAM II

  • Please re-read the section of the syllabus on exams to understand your responsibility for completing a proctored, closed-book exam during the period of October 30 – November 3.

Week 11, November 5-11: Social Structure Theories of Crime

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapters 8 and 9
  • Complete Lecture 9: to be posted November 5
  • DIY Activity #9: “Strains,” due by November 11

Week 12, November 12-18: Social Process and Control

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 10
  • Complete Lecture 10: to be posted November 12
  • DIY Activity #10: “Age, Crime and Control,” due by November 18


November 19-25: Thanksgiving Week. Enjoy a Break!

Week 13, November 26 – December 2: Critical Criminology

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapters 11 and 12
  • Lecture 11: to be posted November 26
  • DIY Activity #11: “Count the Harm, Count the Time,” due by December 2

Week 14, December 3-9: Fear, Terror and Security

  • Read Schram and Tibbets Chapter 15
  • DIY Activity #12, “Terror In Se, Terror Prohibita,” due by December 9
  • Lecture 12: to be posted December 3

Week 15: EXAM 2, December 11-15

  • Please re-read the section of the syllabus on exams to understand your responsibility for completing a proctored, closed-book exam during the period of December 11-15.



The following is a verbatim quote of the Student Academic Integrity Code for all students at the University of Maine at Augusta. The words below not only describe the general expectation for all students at UMA (that your work must be your own) but also my particular expectations for your conduct in this class. You are responsible for learning the standards of academic integrity and ensuring that your work meets these standards. Failure to do so may result in appropriate sanctions — and nobody wants you to end up in that circumstance. If you have any questions about whether you might be violating standards of academic integrity, do two things: First, stop. Second, if you’re in doubt, consult with me to find out what the right course of action would be.


“Plagiarism: the representation of others’ words or ideas as one’s own. For example,

  • Submitting as one’s own work an examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project (laboratory report, artistic work, computer program, etc.) that was created entirely or partially by someone else.
  • Failure to use quotation marks to signal that one is using another person’s precise words. Even brief phrases must be enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Failure to identify the source of quotations and paraphrases. Of course one must cite the source of quotations; one must also cite the source of ideas and information that is not common knowledge even when paraphrased (presented in one’s own words). Sources include unpublished as well as published items — for example, books, articles, material on the Internet, television programs, instructors’ lectures, and people, including other students, friends, and relatives.
  • Creating an academically dishonest paraphrase. When paraphrasing the author must find their own way of expressing the original meaning. Simply inserting synonyms into the source’s sentence structures is plagiarism.
  • Failure to identify the source of the elements of a nonverbal work (for example, a painting, dance, musical composition, or mathematical proof) that are derived from the work of others.


“Cheating: the use or attempted use of unauthorized assistance in an examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project. For example,

  • Copying answers from another student’s examination.
  • Communicating in any way with another student or a third party during an examination without the permission of the instructor.
  • Using unauthorized materials or devices (e.g. notes, textbooks, calculators, electronic devices) during an examination without the permission of the instructor.
  • Obtaining and/or reading a copy of an examination before its administration without the permission of the instructor.
  • Collaborating with other students or third parties on a take-home examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project without the permission of the instructor.

“Additional violations of academic integrity include:

“Duplicate Work: Submitting a paper or other project in more than one course without the permission of the instructors. Students are expected to produce original work for each course. A student should not submit identical or substantially similar papers or projects in two different courses (in the same or different semesters) unless both instructors have given their permission.

“Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: assisting another student’s academic dishonesty. For example,

  • Writing a paper or other project for another student.
  • Permitting another student to copy from one’s examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project.
  • Assisting another student on a take-home examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project if one knows or suspects such assistance is not authorized by the instructor.


“Fabrication: For example,

  • Fabrication of data: Inventing or falsifying the data of a laboratory experiment, field project, or other project.
  • Fabrication of a citation: Inventing a citation for a research paper or other project.
  • Alteration of an assignment: Altering a graded examination, paper, homework assignment, or other project and resubmitting it to the instructor in order to claim an error in grading.”


In this class, I encourage you to share notes with other students and to study together for exams. However, you may not collaborate with other students in any way when actually taking exams or when completing written assignments. You may refer to your own notes and your textbook when working on your written assignments — but you may not copy their work or the work of others, and your writing must be the result of your own work. You may not plagiarize or fabricate in your written work in any way, and the work you turn in for papers and DIY Activities should be your own unless you specifically indicate otherwise through quotation and citation of information sources and ideas.

If I uncover evidence that you have violated academic integrity, I will notify the University’s Student Conduct Officer for review and possible university-level sanctions. At the course level, I reserve the right to impose sanctions including a zero grade for your graded assignment and a zero grade for the course.