Undergraduate Course Descriptions

101. Criminal Justice in a Global Context (Required)

This course provides an overview of the development and operations of the US criminal justice system. Attention will be focused on law enforcement, judicial organization, and correctional processes. The course will also consider the nature and extent of crime and will survey main theories of criminal behavior.

201. Theories of Criminal Behavior (Required)

This course will provide a detailed examination of past and present theories of criminal behavior, placing them in a socio-historical context and exploring their policy and practical implications.

202. Criminal Courts

This course provides students with an overview of state and federal criminal courts and case processing, including the study of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, jury decision-making, plea bargaining, and sentencing.

203. Policing

The course examines the nature and purpose of policing in American society. Topical areas include the urban police function, contemporary US police systems, principles of police organization and administration, basic operational methodology, and efforts to professionalize police agencies.

204. Corrections

This course examines the history, functions, and processes of corrections. The primary focus is institutional corrections and its evolution based on philosophies of retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. The role and influence of community correctional practices and policy on institutional corrections are also covered.

205. Research Methods (Required, or equivalent)

An introduction to the logic and basic concepts of social research, with an emphasis on both basic and applied research within criminal justice and criminology. The course provides a basic conceptual framework for designing, conducting, interpreting, and evaluating social research.

206. Criminal Justice Statistics (Required, or equivalent)

An introduction to the basic concepts and techniques of statistical analysis, with an emphasis on the study of delinquency, crime, and program evaluation within the criminal justice system.

302. The Juvenile Justice System

This course will examine the history, theories, policies, and practices of the juvenile justice system. It will also include a discussion of diversion programs, child maltreatment, and gang behavior.

310. Contemporary Police Issues

This course will examine the interrelationship among crime, the media, the criminal justice system, and other forms of popular culture. Topics include media representations of crime and criminal justice, social media, and the social construction of myths about crime and the criminal justice system.

312. Popular Culture and the Criminal Justice System

This course will examine the interrelationship among crime, popular culture, and the media. Topics include media representations of crime and criminal justice, social media, and the social construction of myths about crime and the criminal justice system, including those related to “super-predators,” the deterrent effect of the death penalty, the war on drugs and crime, and the “CSI Effect.”

322. Criminal Law

This course is an introduction to the principles underlying the definition, constitutionality, and application of criminal laws. It includes the analysis of court decisions regarding various state and federal crimes, and the rules of individual responsibility and accountability for those crimes.

323. Criminal Procedure

This course provides an in-depth coverage of procedures and constitutional issues surrounding criminal investigations, stops, searches, seizures, arrests, interrogations, and lineups.

336. Political Violence and Crime

This course offers a thematic approach to the study of different forms of political violence and crime, their causes and consequences, how different types of violence and crime manifest in the present day, and how violence is represented in popular culture.

337. Terrorism

This course offers an analysis of different types of terrorist organizations across the globe and of the efforts by governments to combat terrorisom.

338. Community-Based Corrections

This course examines the history, purpose, and functioning of probation and parole as well as other aspects of community-based supervision, including: pre-trial supervision, electronic monitoring, house arrest/home detention, day reporting centers, and other programs that provide both supervision and treatment of offenders in the community.

345. Social Justice and Crime

This course examines the social injustices in the criminal justice system’s naming and sanctioning of harmful behaviors as crimes.  Discussions will unpack the values, ethics, and ideologies underlying the current retributive system of sanctioning compared to social justice responses. Harmful and oppressive crimes of states, nations, and corporations such as genocide, violence, and environmental crimes illustrate key concepts underlying justice models.  Students will learn how the following concepts apply in retributive justice models and more inclusive, peace-oriented, and restorative models:   marginalization, stigmatization, stigma, power, privilege, bias, oppression, resistance, compassion, inclusivity, community, and the limitations of a rights-based approach. 

346. Mental Illness and Crime

This course explores the relationship of mental illness to crime and violence. Topics include the nature, prevalence, and consequences of mental disorder, substance use, and violence among criminal offenders, violence risk assessment, and the institutional and other treatments for the mentally ill offender.

351. Organized Crime

This course offers an introduction to the study of organized crime in US society. Emphasis is given to the history and development of traditional organized crime in Chicago. Emerging organized crime groups are also studied. In addition, this course offers an introduction to the concept of transnational organized crime.

352. Gangs

This course examines the historical development of urban street gangs with a view toward understanding their structure, characteristics, purposes, and activities. Particular emphasis is given to the history and development of street gangs in Chicago.

353. White Collar Crime

This is a study of non-traditional crime engaged in by governmental and corporate entities, and persons in the “white collar” professions. It includes state political crimes, corporate violence and abuse of power, as well as occupational, financial, and environmental crimes, and enforcement of laws against such crimes.

354. Cybercrime

This course examines the theory, practice, and prevention of cybercrime. It considers how advances in technology have led to the creation of cybercrime and new avenues for deviance. The course centers on various forms of cybercrimes and how theories of crime can be applied to explain and prevent cybercrime.

360. Substance Use and Crime

This course will explore whether substance use is related to crime, the effect of drug trafficking on communities, the policies aimed at controlling drug use and their effectiveness, as well as the implications of current drug policies and practices on communities and on the criminal justice system itself.

 365. Guns and Crime

This course provides a comprehensive overview of issues associated with firearms in the United States, including their use in the commission and prevention of crime, patterns of ownership and acquisition, and the form and effectiveness of various attempts to control access to firearms and gun-related violence.

366. Crime Prevention

This course examines the theory and practiced of crime prevention. This course will review theories of crime and justice with specific implications for efforts to prevent crime. Students will trace the evolution of crime prevention efforts. Most importantly, the course will review crime prevention strategies, ranging from those designed to protect the individual to those designed to protect society at large. A particular focus will be placed on techniques linked to the environmental criminology and situational crime prevention perspectives.

370. Women in the Criminal Justice System

The course examines four areas relative to women in the criminal justice system: the historical view of female criminality; women as defendants in criminal cases and women in prison; women as victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and women as professionals in the system (police officers, attorneys, judges, correctional officers).

371. Victimology

This course examines the scientific study of victimization, the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system, and the connections between victims and other social groups and institutions.

372. Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice (AASP 372, PLSC 372)

This course examines current research and theoretical perspectives related to race and ethnicity in crime and in criminal justice processing. It will cover such issues as racial profiling, the effects of drug laws on people of color, minority disenfranchisement from the criminal justice system, and crime and immigration.

373. Intimate Partner Violence

This course will address the nature and scope of intimate partner violence, the factors that contribute to it as well as the theories that have been developed to explain it. Attention will be paid to society’s responses to intimate partner violence.

374. Miscarriages of Justice

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of criminal justice system error, drawing from the fields of criminology, psychology, and the law. We will weigh the balance between public safety and due process rights in a variety of situations including wrongful conviction and acquittal, official misconduct, and discrimination. We consider the risks and consequences of falsely accusing the innocent as well as neglecting to apprehend the guilty. Through class discussions and coursework, we will examine the rate of error, institutional responses or error, and the ways in which policies and practices can exacerbate, or minimize, miscarriage of justice.

375. Punishment and Society

This course introduces students to ideas about the purposes of punishment and what punishment means in a modern society. The first half of the course will explore the dominant modern approaches to understanding punishment, covering the perspectives of Durkhiem, Marx, Foucault, and Elias. The second part of the course focuses on punishment as it is practiced in the United States in light of these theoretical approaches. The third part of the course then asks how such practices play out in terms of the collateral consequences of punishment and the importance of racial, gender, and sexual identities in relation to punishment.

376. Childhood Exposure to Violence

This course examines the definitions, scope, and impact of violence and abuse in childhood. In particular, this course introduces students to the theoretical and empirical literatures relating to family violence, including child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and child neglect, as well as child victimization in neighborhoods and schools.

377. Psychology and Law

This course is an introduction to the areas of overlap between psychology and the law. Topics include roles of psychologists in legal settings, accuracy of eyewitness testimony, jury processes, accuracy of polygraph examinations, and issues surrounding the insanity defense.

378. International Criminal Justice

This course is an introduction to the nature and scope of international and transnational crime, and the emerging legal framework for its prevention and control. It includes the history of the internationalization of crime and measurement, and international trends in law enforcement, victim assistance, courts, sentencing, and corrections.

379. Leaving Crime Behind

This course provides students with an examination of desistance from crime and the potential for rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. The course discusses theories of desistance, empirical research on desistance, and the extent to which the criminal justice system contributes to individuals’ ability to desist from crime.

380. Introduction to Forensic Sciences

This course introduces students to the basic principles and uses of forensic science. The techniques, skills, advances and limitations of the modern crime laboratory are presented. Prior knowledge or background in the forensic sciences is not required.

390. Capstone Experience Internship

This course is a field placement for junior or senior standing criminal justice majors or minors whose academic performance is deemed to be adequate for placement. Field placements are sought and acquired by the students and are encouraged to be with one of many cooperating law, law enforcement, corrections, or related offices or agencies. Related agency placements may also be deemed as acceptable upon approval by the internship director. The course satisfies the CORE Civic Engagement requirement. (Prerequisite: Internship director’s approval required; major or minor in criminal justice, with junior or senior standing, having completed at least four courses in the major/minor). *Note: Students seeking internships for the Fall semester should begin looking for placement sites no later than July 15. Students seeking internships for the Spring Semester should begin looking for placement sites no later than November 1. Students seeking internships for the Summer semester should begin looking for placement sites no later than March 15.

391. Capstone Experience Research

The course allows students to be actively engaged in a faculty member's research project, providing the student with an opportunity to apply the research skills that they already have and to acquire additional skills and knowledge about research design, statistical analysis, and writing research presentations, briefs, or papers. Instructor approval required.

395. Special Topics

The content of this course varies in each semester. Examples of subjects include Advanced Topics in Policing; Law and Society; Sexual Violence; Computer Crime; History of Crime in Chicago; Criminal Sentencing Policy; Famous Criminal Trials; International Criminal Justice; and Politics and Policies of Mass Incarceration. Students may take up to four such courses.

396. Independent Study

Students in this course will engage in research and/or readings on a criminal justice topic with the approval and guidance of a criminal justice faculty member. (Instructor and Chairperson's prior approval is required.)

399. Senior Capstone

This course is a culmination of the student’s study of crime and criminal justice issues. It consists of projects aimed at integrating theory, knowledge, and research in the context of a variety of contemporary criminal justice problems, issues, and policies. (Prerequisite: senior standing and completion of six CJC courses).