debut as a junior criminologist




The research essay marks your debut as a junior criminologist. You will select one particular type of criminal offence and choose whichever criminology theory you have studied that can best explain it. The research essay requires you to conduct research about the chosen theory and offence using different academic sources, and to analyse this research to explain the cause(s) of your chosen criminal offence.

Refer back to your plan and also the further research you have conducted about your offence type since you submitted Assignment 2B: Essay Plan. Look specifically 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).

Step 3: Select a theory

Select the crime causation theory that you think best explains why and how this offence occurs. Make sure you have some good notes and planning on how the theory can best be used to explain why and how the offence occurs.

Step 4: Write the body and introduction of your essay

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 and provide examples—hypothetical or documented—to support your argument. Back up your argument with research. Use clear topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.

Many people find it easier to write the introduction after they have written the body of the essay. Remember, a good essay introduction includes a clear thesis statement.

Step 5: Policy response

In your conclusion, suggest one potential policy response that may help reduce or 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 brain imaging and compulsory treatment for young offenders suspected of being predisposed to violent crime.


Things to remember:

  • 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 100–150 words, meaning that 15 or so decent sized paragraphs will likely make up the whole essay.
  • Back up your claims with research.This means not only making a claim, but also supporting that claim with evidence (i.e. references to scholarly sources). Good essays are well supported by research. Aim to include 1–2 references in each paragraph in the body of your essay.
  • Start writing early.A 2000 word essay takes time to put together and you may find that your approach/argument changes as you conduct your research. Leave sufficient time to make changes.
  • Use appropriate sources, particularly peer-reviewed research articles and books. You may use other sources to provide supporting information (e.g. the ABS or the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency for crime statistics). Include at least 10 referencesin your research essay. 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).
  • Do not use non-scholarly sourcesg. random websites and Wikipedia.
  • Reference properly. The required referencing style is Swinburne Harvard, the same as your annotated bibliography and essay plan. Remember that material that is not referenced properly may breach your responsibilities regarding academic honesty.
  • Discuss your essay plan and any potential problems with your eLA. They can provide you with specific advice about your chosen topic and theory, and advise you on the best approaches to take.
Assignment 3 marking guide
Criteria No Pass Pass
High Distinction
Understanding of topic
Does not demonstrate understanding of the task/topic or fundamentally misinterprets task/topic. Adequate understanding of the task. Good demonstrated understanding of the task. Superior demonstrated understanding of the task. Highly sophisticated, demonstrated understanding of the task.
Grasp of criminology theories
Does not demonstrate understanding of a criminology theory and how it applies to  chosen offence. Basic or very little demonstrated understanding of a criminology theory and how it applies to chosen offence.


Fair demonstrated understanding of a criminology theory and how it applies to chosen offence. Good demonstrated understanding of a criminology theory and how it applies to chosen offence. Superior demonstrated understanding of a criminology  theory and how it applies to chosen offence.
Development of critical argument
Generates an adequate argument linking chosen offence with theory. Generates an adequate argument linking chosen offence with theory. Generates an adequate argument linking chosen offence with theory. Superior, well-developed argument. Some evidence of critical thought in linking offence and theory. Highly sophisticated, comprehensive and well developed argument. Demonstrated superior reasoning and critical thought.
Appropriate use of research and selection of sources
Lack of appropriate research. Uses the appropriate number of sources but these fail to support ideas in an effective manner. Evidence of appropriate research, which has been used to support ideas. Ideas well integrated into and supported by published research. Sophisticated use of research to support and extend ideas. Highly effective integration of ideas within  published research.
Presentation (language and expression)
Sub-standard use of language. Substantial mistakes in grammar and/or awkward expression. Adequate use of language. Numerous mistakes in expression or grammar. Good expression. Improvement needed in relation to expression of ideas and articulation of argument. Spelling and punctuation to a high standard. Superior expression. Highly accurate grammar. Highly sophisticated and effective expression appropriate to the task.
Referencing and bibliography
Referencing and bibliography not of tertiary standard. Inaccurate, inconsistent or inappropriate use of sources. Generally accurate use of minimum number of sources. Strong use and detail of appropriate scholarly sources. Consistent, highly accurate use and detail of a variety of appropriate scholarly sources.