What is Criminology?

July 27th, 2022

Have you ever asked yourself why people commit crime? Who is most likely to be a victim of crime in terms of demographics? What role does mental health and addiction play in crime and victimization? What groups are over-represented in the criminal justice system and why?  Do good people “just snap” and do bad things, or were the signs there and we were simply not paying attention?

Different branches of criminology Criminology is a branch of sociology and involves the scientific study of crime, criminals, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system.

Criminology is the study of who commits crimes and why they felt the need to commit them. It determines root causes of criminality such as inequality, unemployment, poverty, addiction, and racism. It also focuses on interventions and strategies that could address the basic factors and ideally preventing criminal activity, thereby reducing relapse rates and the harm caused by crime.

Criminologists are interested in the rehabilitation and management of incarcerated populations as well as to assist and reintegrate offenders safely back into society. Balancing public safety, the rights of the accused, and advocacy for victims are a few of the areas criminologist focus their time and efforts on, in addition to developing new and innovative programs and interventions.

Criminology vs. Criminalistics 

Criminology is not to be confused with criminalistics (also known as forensic science), which is the application of scientific principles and techniques relating to the collection, examination, and analysis of physical evidence, according to Merriam-Webster. Forensic scientists can work in a laboratory environment examining evidence or as a crime scene investigator. Criminology leans towards preventive components while criminalistics takes effect after a crime has taken place.

What Jobs Can I Get with Criminology?

Criminology can help improve crime responses, criminal justice systems, and how victims and criminals are treated. Criminologists determine why a crime was committed, and the effects they have on society. They also predict and prevent future criminal behaviour by analyzing data and research and suggesting crime prevention strategies. Criminologists have a range of career options and can work closely with the government, judicial institutions (courts), law enforcement (police), correctional institutions (prisons), social workers, and educational institutions.

A list of criminology career options Choose from a range of career options when you study criminology.

What Do You Need to Study Criminology?

As a criminologist, you will need to be able to clearly present your thoughts and findings in written statements. You should have the ability to prepare reports and presentations using large amounts of data and information from various sources. Attention to detail is another important skill for criminologists. You will need to establish patterns, pay attention to complex details, and implement basic research skills such as interviewing and information gathering.

As a criminologist, you will also need to have critical thinking skills. Part of your job will require you to focus on psychological and sociological contributors, data analysis, drawing conclusions about the causes of crime, and offering recommendations.

According to Jennifer Blais, Criminology Instructor at Eastern College, “Students of criminology need to be strong-minded critical thinkers, able to recognize positive aspects of the system and to challenge the inadequacies. They must be compassionate towards those they work with, both victims and offenders alike. A criminologist must be able to think through any challenge they face, showing the level to which they have internalized their learning and knowledge.  We do not do easy jobs, but we do have a very important part to play in ensuring every client we work with is aware that there are second chances for anyone willing to make positive choices and changes  in their lives.”

Criminologists will often need to interact with a variety of people and work collaboratively to share knowledge and influence major issues such as policies and how law enforcement handles criminals. Keeping this in mind it’s important to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills.

“Criminologists have a very important part to play in ensuring every client we work with is aware that there are second chances for anyone willing to make positive choices and changes  in their lives.” – Jennifer Blais, Criminology Instructor at Eastern College

Criminology Programs in Canada

If you are passionate about social issues and making a change in society, then criminology may be the career for you. A big part of your role as a criminologist is to predict and prevent future criminal behaviour. Some of the topics you will explore are what motivates offenders, what are the different types of crime, the Canadian criminal justice system, and forensic psychology. It will also touch upon data analysis, statistics, and critical thinking.

The field of criminology provides many opportunities for stimulating work and there are several types of qualifications to choose from including a degree, diploma, and certificate in criminology and criminal justice.

Looking for a program that offers an internship? Expand your network, share insights, and apply what you learn in real-life situations with our Criminology Diploma Program.