Criminological Theory, Offender Profiling and the Challenge of the Serial Killer (2009)

This dissertation examines the role of criminological theory and criminal profiling in explaining and catching serial killers. It starts with defining and conceptualising serial killing and providing information about the commonalities between serial killers. Criminal profiling attempts to bring these commonalities together in order to create a profile which is used to catch these killers. The efficacy of the techniques of criminal profiling and a criminal profile, as an investigative technique, will be explored.

Criminological theory as a discipline has developed many biological, psychological and sociological explanations for crime and it is still expanding. This work explores some criminological theories linked with violent and aggressive behaviour and examine how effective these theories are with explaining the serial killing phenomenon. By using secondary data sources this dissertation concludes that serial killing is a complex form of offending behaviour, and the techniques used in attempting to explain and capture these criminals are not particularly accurate.

While criminological theories are able to explain many forms of offending behaviour they fail to delve deeper into the more extreme nature of serial murder. It also concludes that criminal profiling is an investigative tool and should not be used as the primary method of investigation. Profiling is also a questionable tool as it appears that many conclusions within a criminal profile are based on experience and educated guesswork rather than conclusive evidence. This presents a challenge as each serial killers crimes are unique, as is the serial killer. It seems that if a profile has its limited uses in hunting down serial killers they will continue to kill until the investigators become lucky or the serial killer becomes careless.

  • 12,000 words – 45 pages in length
  • Excellent use of literature
  • Expertly written throughout
  • Outstanding piece of work
  • Ideal for law, criminology and psychology students

Aims and objectives
Chapter outline

Defining and Conceptualising Serial Killing
Definitions of Serial Killing
General characteristics of serial killers
Examples of serial killers

Theoretical Approaches
Biological Explanations for Criminality
Psychological Explanations for Criminality
Sociological Explanations for Criminality

Criminal Profiling and Serial Killer Typologies
Inductive and Deductive Criminal Profiling
Problem Characteristics
MO versus Signature
Serial Killer Typologies

Detailed Case Studies
Ted Bundy
Criminal Career
Jeffrey Dahmer
Criminal Career



Criminological Theory Dissertation
Criminological Theory Dissertation

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