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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Crime Mapping: an introduction to GIS and spatial analysis

Unit code LAWS31152
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Law
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students who have studied Data Analysis or a similar course such as The Survey Method in Social Research SoST20012.



This course unit aims to provide an introduction to the use of geographic information systems for crime analysis and research. The course combines the study of theory and research on the social geography of crime with the development of practical skills in the use of geographic information systems and spatial data analysis software. Consequently, the course has a hybrid nature insofar as it combines the study of a subject area (communities and crime) with the development of spatial visualisation and analysis skills.

The course will be of interest to both criminology students but also to social science students with a particular interest in learning GIS for the study of a variety of social or public health phenomena. The course responds to current calls from ESRC and the British Academy to improve the quantitative skills of social science graduates and fits within the Q-Step Manchester initiative.

The course assumes the student has already taken an introductory data analysis course using appropriate software such as SPSS, STATA or R such as Data Analysis for Criminologists or Modelling Social Inequality. In case of doubt about whether you meet this criteria do not hesitate to contact the course leader.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:
1. Identify main research traditions in the study of crime and place
2. Recognise key concepts on spatial data visualisation and analysis
3. Produce maps of crime and other social features in a professional manner
4. Carry out exploratory spatial data analysis of both points and area data
5. Produce hot spots maps using various approaches
6. Model spatial area data using regression

Teaching and learning methods

The course will rely on the “workshop” model used in the School of Law. This means you don’t have weekly small seminar groups, but a different form of contact with your tutor. Specifically, there are two types of sessions: the Discussion Sessions with and the Practical Lab Sessions. If you are taking the course as an undergraduate (UG) student you are required to attend both. If you are taking the course as a postgraduate (PG) student you are only required to take the Practical Lab Sessions but can attend the Discussion Sessions if you wish.

In the Discussion Sessions, we will introduce the most substantive part of the course. These sessions will try to provide the context for what we are doing (the research and theory on the geography of crime) but also try to reinforce some of the methodological concepts that you will have the chance to apply in the labs.

In the Practical Lab Sessions you will work interactively with a PC and carry out a set of designated exercises to consolidate your understanding of GIS and spatial analysis. The practical lab sessions will take place in a computer cluster..

The course also relies on a blended learning flipped classroom experience. This means that more so than in other course units you will be using learning materials from a variety of sources before you come to the sessions. Apart from the interactive exercises we have already described, you will be expected to watch a series of video presentations listed in the course planning below before you come to the sessions.

Assessment methods

The course is assessed by means of homework (20%) and a learning portfolio (80%). You will submit 8 pieces of homework. Mostly the homework activities will ask you to submit the maps that you will typically have the time to complete during the lab sessions. We mark timely submission rather than quality of the output. Then you will need to submit a learning portfolio (3500 words). As part of it, you will have to attach a selection of the maps (and analysis) produced as part of your homework and answer a set of questions about them.

Recommended reading

We won’t require you to purchase a textbook for this course unit. Instead we will rely on reading material that is available for free or that can be obtained from the library on digital format. The main required text you need to get is Joel Caplan and Wiliam Moreto  (2012) “GIS Mapping for Public Safety: An Annotated Guide to ArcGIS Version 10 Tools and Procedures” (1st Edition). This is a pdf digital publication that you can obtain free in this link: You will also need to obtain a copy of this report on “Mapping Crime: Understanding Hotspots” by John Eck and colleagues, that is available as a pdf file from the US Department of Justice in the provided hyperlink (


Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Juan Medina-Ariza Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Resticted to: Final year students University wide who have met the pre-requisites.

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