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CRMJ 4530 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

CRMJ 4530 - Sociology of Murder

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course provides an analytical study of murder and violence in the United States. Taking into account the grisly topic, students that are disturbed by particularly heinous crimes should avoid enrolling in this course.

The topics studied in this course include:

  • different types of homicide
  • offender characteristics
  • etiological considerations of becoming an offender or victim
  • the role of social profiling in the investigation of various types of murder
  • theoretical approaches to the study of murder
  • patterns and sources of violence
Course Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand and apply the sociological perspective to homicide and murder.
  2. Understand sociological explanations for the occurrence of homicide in the United States.
  3. To apply sociological explanations to particular types of homicide as well as particular examples of murder.
  4. To understand and be able to critique the various sources of information on homicide as well as what these sources tell us about offenders, victims, weapons, locations, motives etc.
  5. To understand the stages, processes, offenders, victims, and settings of a typical homicide.
  6. To understand the sources, patterns, and explanations of various types of murder.
  7. To understand criminal behavior profiling as well as the role it can play in solving homicides. 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

SOCI 1010 or CRMJ 1010

Course Topics:
  1. Definitions and Legal Degrees of Murder
  2. Theoretical Perspectives and Measurement Issues in the Study of Murder
  3. Societal Influences on Homicide
  4. Intimate Partner Homicide
  5. Murder of Children
  6. Children who Kill
  7. Serial Murder & Mass Murder
  8. Homicide Investigation 
Specific Course Requirements:

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

Articles provided by the instructor on course website.

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

This course utilizes randomized quizzes to assess student learning at the end of each topic. During these quizzes, browsers will not be locked down. However, quizzes must be completed by their designated “close” date in order to be considered for points. Quizzes will comprise of fill- in-the-blank, multiple-choice, short essay, and true/false questions. 

Grading Procedures:
AssignmentPossible Points
Active Learning Assignments (8 topics @ 20 points each)100
Book Report (1 report @ 100 points)100
Discussions (8 topics @ 10 points each)80
Quizzes (8 topics @ 20 points each)160


Grading Scale:


Assignments and Projects:

Active-Learning Assignments (160 total points possible): During the semester, students will engage in various active learning exercises that are designed to assist in the application of course material to the everyday world. Details about each particular activity will be discussed in advance of due dates. These activities cannot be turned in late unless a documented emergency occurred.

Book Report (100 total points possible): This assignment involves reading a book about murder (from the list of approved books), critiquing it using course material (i.e., does it match what you’ve learned in this course?), and applying a theoretical perspective to “frame” what happened (if it is a collection of stories – then select an overall perspective that you most agree with). The specific format of the book report will be posted on the class website.

Discussions (80 total points possible): During each week, students are expected to discuss the course material over the class discussion board. The instructor will prompt discussion by outlining specific questions students will have to address in their posts. Aside from posting their own reflections and thoughts on the readings, students are required to engage their peers in active conversation and debate. In other words, it is expected that there will be disagreement. Students will not be allowed to see any of their peers’ posts until they post themselves.

Here are some tips on how to be successful in the discussion component of this course:

  1. Actually read the posts of your peers and respond thoughtfully. It is perfectly acceptable to disagree, but be constructive and never personal. Related the aforementioned, ensure you are basing at least part of your argument/claim/response on actual data outside of your own personal knowledge. Personal opinion is fine to note, but should not represent the majority of your posts. This is an upper-level course and I expect you to utilize your knowledge of research each week in the discussions.
  2. Enter the discussion well in advance of the deadline and remain active throughout the topic timeframe. Entering the discussion a few hours or a day before the closure date will result in a lower score.
  3. Ensure you are actually adding to the discussion and not simply reiterating what previous posts have noted. While I want you to reply, just agreeing with a bunch of people is not engaging in the discussion.
  4. Ensure you’re keeping the threads together by clicking the “reply” button. Do not attempt to reply to someone outside of the thread in which the first comment was made or it will become confusing to everyone else following the discussion.
  5. Avoid any insulting or inflammatory comments to others.

Quizzes (160 total points possible): During the semester, eight quizzes will be given including material covered up to that date. This is to ensure that students are reading the required the material and assess the overall understanding of topics among the class. 

Class Participation:

Although this course does follow a set schedule, this is a student-driven course. In other words, the onus is on YOU to participate and be engaged virtually with the class. 

Late Policy:

Students are expected to adhere to the posted deadlines on the syllabus and the course calendar. Late work will not be accepted. Therefore, it is highly recommended that students setup reminders for themselves in their calendars and smart devices to avoid missing deadlines. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 12, 2021