School of Applied Human Sciences

Criminology and Forensic Studies

Criminology and Forensic Studies

This discipline area provides expert knowledge to deal effectively with crime, victimisation and conflict and to promote a democratic and just society with a human rights ethos as set out in the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights and other relevant international legal frameworks and treaties.

It introduces students to biological, psychological and social dimensions of criminal behaviour and explores the application of these approaches to an understanding of the diversity of criminal behaviour.

The critical evaluation and application of theories to different categories of crime and criminal behaviour provide students with the opportunity to explore and analyse individual and social influences on criminal behaviour. Not only is the multidimensional nature of conflict studied but analyses refer also to the functioning of the major tiers and role-players of criminal justice recognising the importance of judicial pluralism together with emerging forms of justice such as restorative justice.

Current scholarly debates surrounding the workings and outcomes of the system and its component parts are analysed and evaluated and theories and perspectives of punishment, justice and crime reduction are appraised providing a critical understanding and specialised knowledge of the evolution, elements, aims and applications of punishment within a local and international human rights framework, focusing also on the gendering of crime and victimisation and minimum standards for child justice reform as well as structural interdicts to ensure state delivery. The importance of the crime case study method is furthermore highlighted with the presentation of material to the criminal justice system informed by scientific rigour. Analyses refer inter alia to the credibility of behavioural evidence, pre-sentence evaluations and victim impact statements.

Academic Leader for Criminology: Dr Jean Steyn

Clusters within the mother discipline of Criminology which are presented as particular areas of specialisation:

Prospective Students:
Crime has severe consequences for the sustained development of a
society, the economy and ecology. For students who are interested in
this fascinating field and who also wish to promote social justice and
nation building, criminology entails a multi-disciplinary understanding
of conflict and equips students with the necessary skills to follow
different careers in Criminology, for example as a Forensic
Criminologist, a Victimologist, Criminal Justice and Health
practitioners, or as researcher.

Postgraduate students can look forward to a truly international
experience with many different opportunities; they can benefit from the
research standing, commitment and expertise of research leaders in the

Research Initiatives:
Members of the department are engaged with different international
research projects and collaborations. Particular focus areas refer to
the Victimology of International Crimes, Police Culture and Policing in
Multi-cultural societies as well Transitional Justice, Human Rights and
Security. Gender, Crime and Corrections are further areas of
specialisation as well as the Indian Diaspora in the 21st  Century,
School Violence, Child Justice, Identity and Youth.

Community-based Initiatives:

Dr Nirmala Gopal is actively engaged with the SAPS Inanda
cluster and ETDP-SETA Higher Education and Research Chamber assessing
skills development in the Higher education sector nationally

Interesting Facts:
In demonstrating relevance of the discipline area to industry Mr Shaka Yesufu, has served with the city of London Police and Herfordshire Constabulary. Mr Yesufu also worked as a probation officer in Islington London and served as adviser to corrections in Suffolk County (United Kingdom). Advancing internationalisation of the discipline area, Dr Steyn is engaged with collaborative longitudinal research across different continents on the phenomenon of Global police organisational and occupational culture. Concerning the other members of the discipline area, Prof Singh has conducted work on Gender Perceptions of Crime and its reduction amongst White South Africans in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and on the topics of drug use/misuse, Corrections, and the Indian Diaspora in the 21th century. Dr Gopal is an expert on school violence and curriculum development. Our newest appointments Dr Jackie de Wet specialises in offender and criminal behaviour profiling and Mr Magadze is an expert of the fascinating world of prisons and punishment.