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What is Criminology? How to be Sherlock?

What is Criminology? How to be Sherlock?

Have you ever thought about being a detective? Are you interested in stepping into the world of crime, investigation and justice? Do you wish to follow the path of the phenomenal Sherlock Holmes?

The essence of Criminology

The field of Criminology deals with several aspects of a crime – its causes, control and prevention, and involves the study of criminal behavior on an individual and social level. It is categorized as one of the main branches of Sociology, but it shares knowledge with other major disciplines such as Biology, Philosophy and Psychology.


Historically, the roots of Criminology date back to the middle of the 18th century when several concepts, ideas and theories, related to social phenomenon of crime finally merged into a social science under the term of criminologia. The newborn study field eventually led to the development of several schools having different views and beliefs over the nature of the criminological theory:


  • Classical school – developed in the mid-18th century, it suggested that people are more likely to commit crimes, when the benefits of a certain crime outweigh the possible costs. Followers of the classical theory widely believed that crime reduction is only possible with the aid of harsher punishments.
  • Positivist school – by contrast, it presumed that criminal behavior is a result of internal and external factors outside of human control. For example, many positivists proposed that there is a link between crime rates and population density (social factors) or that a physiological trait such as a cleft palate (biological factors) indicates a criminal tendency.
  • Chicago school – as one of the most recent schools emerging in the 20th century, it focused on the idea that the inhabited environment is a key factor in shaping human behavior. Followers later introduced evidence that urban neighborhoods with high levels of poverty, homicides and suicides eventually experience social structure breakdown, disorganization and finally – higher crime rates.


Indeed, this historical perspective clearly indicates the interdisciplinary aspect of the field. Moreover, the evolution of Criminology as a discipline has given birth to additional areas of study, including:


  • Penology – the study crime punishment, prison management and correction.
  • Victimology – the study of victims of crime and criminal justice system.
  • Criminalistics (Forensic Science) – the study of evidence collection and analysis in criminal cases.

Becoming Sherlock Holmes

For starters, you should definitely consider the idea of enrolling for a Masters in Criminology. The majority of universities around the world offer practically-oriented courses, which include examining modern crime in detail and the 21st century ways of punishment. Theoretical modules are highly standardized and deal with past and contemporary criminological theories.


Secondly, courses in Criminology include a rich list with electives – a result of the interdisciplinary characteristics of the field. This means that you can broaden your range of interests and graduate with expertise of several other areas of study. And if you are keen on following the steps of Sherlock Holmes, you will definitely have to possess an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge.


Don’t forget that your future career will involve a great deal of intercultural communication which would require a set of language skills!


Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.


Arthur Conan Doyle

Future ahead

Finally, upon graduation, you will have to consider launching your detective career at a chosen institution – government agencies, police services, courts, prisons, or operate with a set of clients as a private figure. Within your personal development you will have the opportunity to acquire a great deal of experience and eventually attempt to find a solution to the contemporary criminal problems of the world – from local thefts to global terrorism.


And in order to gain a better understanding of the capabilities of Mr. Holmes, here is a quoted list from the novel “A Study in Scarlet”, released back in 1887:


“Dr. Watson's summary list of Sherlock Holmes's strengths and weaknesses:

Knowledge of Literature: Nil.

Knowledge of Philosophy: Nil.

Knowledge of Astronomy: Nil.

Knowledge of Politics: Feeble.

Knowledge of Botany: Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.

Knowledge of Geology: Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.

Knowledge of Chemistry: Profound.

Knowledge of Anatomy: Accurate but unsystematic.

Knowledge of Sensational Literature: Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.

Plays the violin well.

Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.

Has a good practical knowledge of British law.”


Arthur Conan Doyle


Did you manage to find the hidden word, detective? If not, grab your magnifier and while you are at it, take a look at our course finder and find the perfect Master in Criminology for you!


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