Biosocial Aspects of Antisocial Behaviour

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Biosocial Aspects of Antisocial Behaviour

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Biology, Psychology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    1. Solid background of biosocial concepts and biosocial findings within criminology
    2. Ability to integrate different perspectives applied to antisocial behaviour
    3. Ability to see how academic knowledge can be translated into practice (clinical or juridical)
    4. Ability to write a structured research proposal or poster based on the lectures and literature and to present this paper/poster to a small audienc

    Antisocial behaviour poses a major burden for society. Revealing its causes may provide clues for treatment and prevention. Criminology, the scientific study of criminal behaviour, has traditionally been dominated by sociologically oriented theories of crime causation. This focus has underscored the importance of environmental factors while, at the same time, dismissing the importance of biological and genetic factors. Indeed, most criminology textbooks give only a cursory overview of biogenic research into antisocial behaviour, suggesting that these factors are unimportant. This conclusion, however, stands in contrast to a large body of research which identifies biological and genetic factors to be important in the etiology of criminal behaviour. This honours course will introduce the student to biosocial criminology, an emerging paradigm in the criminological discipline. Biosocial criminology encompasses several subfields that seek to unpack the association between genes, biology, the brain, the environment, and different types of antisocial behaviours. The course will unfold in three interrelated sections. The first part of the course will present an introduction to biosocial criminology. We will explain basic concepts and theories within criminology, biology and psychiatry so that all students have the basic knowledge where they could build upon in the following lectures. The second portion of the course will introduce students to concepts, findings, and theories germane to the biosocial focus. The final section of the course will consider both the ethical and policy implications of biosocial criminology. During this portion of the class, we will also discuss some of the reasons mainstream theorists have overlooked biosocial criminology. Throughout the classes the students will be engaged by cutting-edge research taught by an excellent panel of lecturers. 


    • 10 seminar meetings of 2,5 hours (25 hours)
    • excursion to a youth detention facility
    • 2 presentation meetings of 3 hours (6 hours) + preparation of presentation (4 hours)
    • reading in preparation of the seminars (40 hours)
    • answering reflection questions (for each meeting a personal and academic question is placed on BB) (10 hours), using the required literature
    • additional reading + writing of final research proposal (77 hours) 

    Students are evaluated based on a research proposal or poster (60%), an oral presentation (20%), as well as their performance on the weekly multiple choice questions and participation in class discussions (20%).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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