Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Knowledge, understanding and skills in researching criminology are important for all people engaged in the profession, because it is through these that students will be able to understand and evaluate all the different aspects of criminology, and thereby develop evidence-based proposals for improvements.

This unit begins by helping students to develop their knowledge and understanding of research design methods in a social science/criminological context. This is achieved first by a progression through basic foundational aspects of research including ethical guidelines, measurement, sampling, the concept of causation. The unit builds on this foundation by building an awareness and understanding of different research designs including experimental designs, surveys, qualitative methods, mixed methods, and finally, evaluation and policy analysis. These are the foundation for the development of students' skills through this unit. Such skills will assist students in future careers in government through an understanding of evaluative programs, an enhanced ability to read and critically evaluate research and also assist students if they wish to progress into higher levels of academic scholarship.

This unit aims to introduce the core knowledge required for students to identify gaps in current research, formulate a research question and hypotheses, and select and develop an appropriate research design to address a research question and/or hypothesis/es.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Understand and identify key elements of various forms of ethical research design and methodology (GA1, GA5, GA7)

LO2 - Critically evaluate current research to identify gaps in the literature (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Apply knowledge of a current topic in criminology by developing a proposal for future research (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media


Topics will include:

  • Conducting a literature review
  • Science, society, and research related to crime
  • The process and problems of research related to crime and criminology
  • Ethical guidelines for research
  • Conceptualisation and measurement
  • Sampling
  • Causation and research design
  • Experimental designs
  • Survey research
  • Qualitative methods
  • Mixed methods
  • Evaluation and policy analysis

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students will undertake practical learning activities and assessments that focus on developing the skills required to identify and report gaps in scientific literature with a view to suggesting new areas of scientific enquiry. These include active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and critical evaluation to promote analysis, synthesis and application of relevant scholarly works. Students will apply this foundation to develop and propose a research design to solve a research question allowing them to demonstrate an applied understanding of appropriate research design.

This unit comprises 150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts or ACU Online 10 week asynchronous delivery mode.  The balance of the hours becomes self-directed study.

ACU Online 

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks have been explicitly created to address the identified Learning Outcomes for this unit (assessment of learning) and designed to allow students to learn about and apply the skills required by professionals working in the field of criminology (assessment for learning).

  1. Multiple choice quiz. Students will be required complete a 30-question multiple-choice exam. This serves a formative purpose that will cover the first 5-6 weeks of course content.
  2. Literature Review. This assessment requires students to critically evaluate the current research in a chosen area of criminology, identify a gap in the literature and propose a suitable research question. This assessment will form the basis of assessment 3.
  3. Research proposal. Using the literature review and proposed research question in assessment 2, students will be required to create a research proposal including hypothesis/es, an appropriate methodology to test their hypotheses or answer their research question and create a reasonable time-line and budget. Further they will be required to identify and generate solutions for ethical concerns relevant to their chosen research.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple choice quiz: This largely formative assessment is designed to assist students in identifying key aspects of research design



GA1, GA5, GA7

Literature Review: This assessment develops skills around critically evaluating literature in a chosen area of criminology, identify a gap in the literature that can generate a research question, and justify why this is an area worthy of investigation



GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Research proposal: This assessment requires students to apply their knowledge of research design through the development of a feasible research project including a budget, timeline and ethical considerations



GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Bachman R D, & Schutt R K, The practice of research in criminology and criminal justice. Sage publications, California, 2020

Hunter R, Dantzker M & Quinn S, Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice, 4th edition, 2016.

Bachman R & Schutt R, Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice - International Student Edition, 7th edition, 2019.

Gau J, Statistics for Criminology & Criminal Justice, 3rd edition, 2018.

Wincup E, Criminological Research: Understanding Qualitative Methods, 2nd edition, 2017.

Bachman R & Paternoster R, Statistics for Criminology & Criminal Justice, 4th edition, 2016.

de Lint W, LexisNexis Quick Reference Card - Criminology, 2015

Noaks L & Wincup E, Criminological Research, 2004.

Gadd D, Karstedt S & Messner S, eds., The SAGE Handbook of Criminological Research Methods, 2011.

Kraska P, Brent J & Neuman W, Criminal Justice and Criminology Research Methods, 3rd edition, 2020.

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