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22 Nov
2020

Conduct research about your offence type, specifically looking at ideas/theories concerning why the crime occurs (causation) wi…

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Research essay
Value: 40%
Due: Friday 8th June
Length: 2000 words
The research essay is the major piece of work for the semester and marks the student’s debut as a
junior criminologist. Each student will select one particular type of criminal offence (e.g. assault, car
theft, financial fraud) and choose whichever criminology theory studied in the semester that can best
explain it. The research essay requires students to conduct research about the chosen theory and
offence using different academic sources, and analyse this research to explain the causes of crime.
What to do:
1) Pick a single offence type that you are interested in researching in depth (e.g. murder, car
theft, fraud, etc.)
2) Conduct research about your offence type, specifically looking at ideas/theories concerning
why the crime occurs (causation) with regard to a particular criminology theory that we have
covered during the semester (e.g. strain theory, biological determinism).
3) Select the theory that you think best explains why/how this offence occurs.
4) In your essay, you are required to explain the links between your chosen offence and the
crime causation theory that you have selected. Outline the reasons why you think that this is
the best explanatory model.
5) To strengthen your analysis, compare the best theory you have chosen with two other
theories and discuss why it is the superior approach in explaining your offence. For example,
you may decide that strain theory is a better explanatory model in accounting for car theft
than labelling theory. Outline the reasons that you think this – do not simply tell the reader
which is better – you must explain why as well.
6) In your conclusion, suggest one potential policy response that may help reduce/address the
crime that you have researched. This suggestion should be broadly consistent with your
theoretical analysis. For example, if you have chosen serial murder and explained it with
reference to biological determinism, you may suggest compulsory psychological screening
for young offenders convicted of a violent offence.
Things to keep in mind:
x Take the time to plan properly. A 2000 word essay is a substantial piece of writing but, once
you break it up into components pieces, it is less space than you might think. Paragraphs
should generally be around 150 words, meaning that 13-14 paragraphs will likely make up
the whole essay.
x Back up your claims with research. This means not only making a claim and but also
supporting that claim with evidence (i.e. references to scholarly sources). Good essays are
well supported by research. Aim to include 2-3 references in each paragraph in the body of
your essay.
x Start writing early. A 2000 word essay takes time to put together and you may find that your
approach changes as you conduct your research.
x Use appropriate sources, particularly peer-reviewed articles and books. You may use other
sources to provide supporting information (e.g. the ABS or BOCSAR sites for crime statistics).
Include at least 8 references in your research essay. This is a minimum requirement – higher
grades will likely have more than this.
x Do not use non-scholarly sources, e.g. random websites, Wikipedia, etc. Also remember
that this is a research essay – we want to see how well you can find your own information.
This means we want to see referencing beyond the resources that we have given to you (i.e.
your course textbook and required readings).
x Reference properly. The required referencing style is SAGE Harvard, the same as for your
annotated bibliography. Check out the link below if you are unsure how to reference
properly. Remember that material that is not referenced properly may breach your
responsibilities regarding academic honesty. Check out the link below for more advice, and
discuss any problems with your tutor. The library also runs courses on referencing if you
would like more detailed advice.
x Discuss your essay plan and any potential problematic issues with your tutor. They can
provide you with specific advice about your chosen topic and theory, and advise you on the
best approaches to take.
PICT 103 – Research Essay Rubric
Criterion High Distinction Distinction Credit Pass Fail
Understanding
of topic
Highly sophisticated,
demonstrated
understanding of the
task.
Superior
demonstrated
understanding
of the task.
Good
demonstrated
understanding
of the task.
Adequate
understanding
of the task.
Does not
demonstrate
understanding of
the task/topic or
fundamentally
misinterprets
task/topic.
Grasp of
criminology
theories
Superior
demonstrated
understanding of
criminology theory
and how these apply
to chosen offence.
Good
demonstrated
understanding
of criminology
theory and
how these
apply to chosen
offence.
Fair
demonstrated
understanding
of criminology
concepts and
how these are
apply to chosen
offence.
Basic or very
little
demonstrated
understanding
of critical
concepts and
how these
relate to
chosen
offence.
Does not
demonstrate
understanding of
criminology
theory or how
they relate to
chosen offence.
Development of
critical
argument
Highly sophisticated,
comprehensive and
well developed
argument.
Demonstrated
superior reasoning
andcritical thought.
Superior well
developed
argument.
Some evidence
of critical
thought in
linking offence
and theory.
Generates an
adequate
argument
linking chosen
offence with
theory.
Minimal
evidence of an
argument
linking chosen
offence with
theory.
Does not
construct a
coherent critical
argument.
Appropriate use
of research and
selection of
sources
Sophisticated use of
research to support
and extend ideas.
Highly effective
integration of ideas
within published
research.
Ideas well
integrated into
and supported
by published
research.
Evidence of
appropriate
research, which
has been used
to support
ideas.
Uses the
appropriate
number of
sources but
these fail to
support ideas
in an effective
manner.
Lack of
appropriate
research.
Presentation
(language and
expression)
Highly accurate
grammar. Highly
sophisticated and
effective expression
appropriate to the
task.
Spelling and
punctuation of
a high
standard.
Superior
expression.
Good
expression.
Improvement
needed in
relation to
expression of
ideas and
articulation of
argument.
Adequate use
of language.
Numerous
mistakes in
expression or
grammar.
Sub-standard use
of language.
Substantial
mistakes in
grammar and/or
awkward
expression.
Referencing and
bibliography
Consistent, highly
accurate use and
detail of a variety of
appropriate scholarly
sources.
Strong use and
detail of
appropriate
scholarly
sources.
Generally
accurate use of
minimum
number of
sources.
Inaccurate,
inconsistent or
inappropriate
use of sources.
Referencing and
bibliography not
of tertiary
standard.

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