How to write a Criminology Essay (A Full Guide for Students)

Last Updated: 23 August 2023

Writing a criminology essay is one of the most satisfying assignments you will have in college. Majorly, criminology is an exciting subject that makes you want to inquire further and compose papers explaining, solving, or analyzing various criminological issues while applying criminological theories or theoretical frameworks.

As a cross-disciplinary field, criminology examines crime from a social view. It entails the study of how laws are made, the nature, causes, and extent of crime, and the efforts by various authorities to address and control crime via the juvenile and criminal systems. Majorly, when undertaking criminological writing, you use criminological theories drawn from social sciences such as psychology, sociology, political science, and economics. They also draw from other humanity subjects such as history, philosophy, ethics, and biology. When writing a criminological essay, it is important to differentiate criminology from criminal justice. Majorly, since criminology is a sub-discipline of sociology, your writing must portray a sociological perspective.

Given the interdependence of criminology on other disciplines or subjects, you will undoubtedly be assigned essays on various topics. Yours is to demonstrate that you can research and discuss the topics academically. Let’s dig deeper into how to write an excellent criminology essay.

Steps for Writing an Essay on a Criminology Topic

Some of the common criminology topics include causes and factors influencing crime, measures and procedures to combat and manage crime, the link between ethnicity/race and crime, social prevention, criminological theories, terrorism, human and drug trafficking, technology and crime, cybersecurity, punishment, the criminal justice system, the role of genetics and psychology on crime, etc.

Regardless of your chosen topic, here are the steps to write the best criminology essay that a professor will read and give you the highest possible grades.

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

Read and understand the prompt or instructions before doing anything else on the criminology essay assignment. You can only write a great essay when you know what you are addressing.

As you read the instructions, try to understand the types of topics you are expected to handle. If there is a list of criminology topics you have been assigned to choose, select a topic you can manage regarding research and the time allocated for the assignment.

A successful criminological essay must address the essay question from the body to the conclusion. Therefore, when reading the instructions, pay close attention to signal words such as analyze, describe, explain, criticize, evaluate, compare and contrast, critically analyze, or explore.

If you are required to address a specific area or theory, understanding these task words or phrases will tell you what to do, which defines the scope of your essay.

Brainstorm ideas that come to mind as you read the essay question and use tools such as concept maps, mind maps, and freewriting to record this information.

Step 2: Research the Essay Question

With an understanding of what is required of you in the essay, your next step is to conduct preliminary research. The assumption here is that you have gone through the process of choosing a good topic.

Because by now you have deconstructed the essay question, you need to delve deep into research to understand it better and organize your answer.

You need to look into scholarly and non-scholarly resources for your research.

The non-scholarly resources are for your personal understanding of the dynamics of the topics. However, you can only cite and reference scholarly sources such as Journal articles, organizational and government publications, and books. You can make use of online databases with criminology research articles and resources.  You can check government websites and law enforcement agency publications to establish the best evidence to use when addressing your arguments in the essay.

Organize resources with the same ideas and take shorthand notes when undertaking the research. You can also use tables to prioritize the ideas and sketch what you want your final paper to look like.

If you need to use any theoretical or conceptual frameworks in the criminological essay, research them further and take relevant notes. Do the same for criminology theories and other concepts that you come across during research.

With the research, you should be able to formulate your thesis to include rational arguments. A strong criminological essay must have a defensible thesis supported by evidence. To have an effective thesis statement, ensure it is clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be complex enough to allow you to defend it and relevant to the topic.  Ensure it has two to three arguments supported by facts and evidence and a counterargument if that fits.

Step 3: Plan and Organize

Once you have understood the instructions, essay questions, and other dynamics, you must construct your response to the prompt or question. Although you might have brainstormed when researching, there is no harm in doing it all over again.

You can achieve this in many different ways. Visual approaches like concept maps, mind maps, or tables can be used.

A perfect way to do it is to start from what you know to the unknown. You should list the main concepts at the center of the page and use arrows to show the related concepts and ideas. You can, for example, explore the criminological theories, sociological theories, concepts, theoretical constructs, and ideas that relate to the central themes you have selected for your essay.

You can also organize the literature you have read during the research into categories to formulate a good response without losing yourself. For this, you can use online citation management tools such as Zotero.

Step 4: Outline your Essay

The structure of the essay guides how you will prioritize and present ideas. It should be divided into an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion.

In the introduction, ensure you feature the opening sentences (hook), background statement, signposts, and thesis statement.

The main body should have several paragraphs, each having a topic sentence, a series of supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence that transitions the paragraph to the subsequent sentence.

The conclusion should tie everything together, offer closure to readers, and present solutions and recommendations.

When outlining, you can use the alphanumeric, decimal, or full-sentence outline essay outline formats, depending on what your intentions are. The full-sentence format cuts down writing time and inspires confidence when you are writing.

After the outline, take a break. It is an important part of the writing process. You can then resume writing the paper with confidence and speed.

Step 5: Write the Essay

A criminology essay comprises the introduction, main body, and conclusion.

The introduction should be clear, concise, and coherent. It should include one or two opening sentences (attention-getters) that identify the essay's purpose and the question that your essay addresses.

Related Reading: Main Parts of an Introduction Paragraph.

Give brief background information on the topic or subject so that your readers can identify what your essay is about.

Also, outline how you are approaching the essay topic by signposting the ideas in your essay. Finally, round up the introduction by fronting your core argument in the paper – the thesis statement, in one or two sentences.

Each topic sentence in the essay's body should signal a new main idea connected to the thesis. Ensure that you support the ideas using definitions, examples, criminological perspectives, logic, reasoning, statistics, and materials from other sources.

Immediately after the facts, conclude the paragraph and transition to the next. Repeat the process until you have exhausted the body section, then transition to the conclusion.  Include academic words and phrases in your essay to make sense and have a good flow of ideas.

As you write the body paragraphs, follow the PEEL/TEEL format. Other formats, such as the MEAL plan, can also suffice. You should have a scholarly engagement with the sources, which means critically reading and writing answers that make sense.

Related Readings:

Finally, write the conclusion of the essay. It should be 10% of the entire word count.

Include one or two conclusion closing sentences that summarize the arguments in the essay and provide closure to your readers. You can also reflect on the main points and present your counterargument, then refute it by giving a rebuttal.

You should also restate the thesis to help your readers link ideas from the introduction and the body. Refrain from including any new ideas in the essay at this point.

Step 6: Revise and Edit

After writing the essay, you need to take a break. The length of your break depends on the deadline. The longer it is, the longer your break should be.

After the break, read the essay aloud to spot any mistakes, omissions, and errors. Reread it slowly as you pay attention to the sentence, paragraph, and essay structures.

Check your essay for grammar. You can use software such as Grammarly or Ginger software to ensure it is grammatically sound. There is no chance for spelling mistakes because you want a high-quality criminology essay. As you check all these, check the in-text citations and references.

Also, countercheck the plagiarism score to ensure you are submitting a paper with the lowest or no score. Your paper should be as exciting and engaging as possible. If there are areas you have made subjective opinions, find means to make them objective. You can submit the paper in the best format (PDF, PPT, Google Doc, or Word document) only when you have addressed everything.

Useful Tips When Writing a Criminology Essay

A criminology essay can be persuasive, expository, analytical, historical, or comparative. Regardless of what type of arguments you are presenting, here are some best essay tips to consider.

  1. Work on your essay as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush.
  2. Revise and review the class readings and notes on concepts related to the topic. Check your class notes for examples your professor or instructor used.
  3. Every paragraph should portray maturity in writing using transition words, effective word choice, and the best presentation.
  4. Avoid run-on sentences. Instead, use a mix of short and long sentences.
  5. Don’t just describe; compare the insights on the same concepts by different authors while noting your stance objectively.
  6. Don’t ignore any counterarguments. If you are convinced of counterarguments against your thesis, present them, then give a well-supported rebuttal.
  7. Your essay should offer a solution to a criminological issue. Therefore, ensure that you state your recommendations in the conclusion based on the main points in the body.
  8. When writing the body of the criminology essay, weave in sociological, religious, political, legal, and psychological points of view. Using different perspectives helps you to demonstrate your writing prowess.
  9. Give concrete examples and be analytical in your presentation of facts. Never use direct quotes unless allowed, but they should be limited.
  10. When giving criminological evidence, ensure it has an economic, political, sociological, and psychological foundation. You can use both qualitative and quantitative data to elucidate your main arguments.
  11. You can format the paper in APA, ASA, MLA, Harvard, Vancouver, or Turabian format. Follow the guidebook recommendations when formatting and structuring the paper. You should maintain consistency throughout the paper.
  12. Ensure you have a good understanding of a theory before applying it. For instance, if you are writing a paper based on Rational Choice Theory or Conflict theory, research the theory, understand it, then apply it to the context of your essay topic.
  13. Write in an active voice because it ensures the conciseness and liveliness of your essay.
  14. Present facts chronologically without confusing the readers. The points in your essay should flow into one another.

Now that you know, ….

When writing an essay or paper for a criminology course, you must bring the best out of yourself. Naturally, a criminology essay will explore different criminological concepts while attempting to find solutions. Check out our respective guides to related essays:

Also, check out our famous list of criminology and criminal justice topics to get topics and ideas you can use for your criminological paper.

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