25 Free Open Courseware Classes About Criminology

Have you ever entertained the urge to study criminology? While many local police departments often conduct a “citizen academy” for residents that includes studies in criminology and crime, you also can find free online courses from reputable colleges. These courses can range from forensic sciences to psychology to current and historic justice systems and terrorism or white collar crime and response systems.

The following list contains 25 free open courseware classes about criminology are listed in alphabetical order to show readers that we do not value one course over another. In each case, the college that provides the course is listed in brackets following a description of the linked course. Remember that these courses usually do not contribute to college credits; however, they can help you build a solid criminology background with just some time and effort on your part.


  1. Adolescent Health and Development: Lecture materials in this course address youth-based criminal activity. [Johns Hopkins]
  2. Aims and Limits of the Criminal Law: This course is a series of lectures (some audio only) that focus on the aims and limits of criminal law. [Berkeley Webcasts]
  3. Case Studies in Terrorism Response: Through three illustrative case studies, you can learn basic concepts and principles of terrorism preparedness and response as well as identify some specific practical considerations. [Johns Hopkins]
  4. Civil Litigation I: This course addresses topics of parties to a civil suit, jurisdiction, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, informal and formal discovery, legal documents such as the complaint, answer, and motions, and the jury selection process. [KAPLAN]
  5. Crime, Heredity and Insanity in American History: Learn more about how Americans have thought about crime and insanity and how these ideas have changed over time. [Notre Dame]
  6. Criminal Justice System: Are Drug Courts better than treatment programs at addict rehabilitation? Learn more about this question through this learning module. [Connexions]
  7. Criminal Law: Judge Colquitt provides a syllabus, news, lecture notes, case studies and more through this course which covers the criminal justice system, the criminal act, the criminal mind and more. [University of Alabama]
  8. Criminology: This site is devoted to the topic of criminology. You can subscribe through RSS and learn more about work in progress and work in the field. [Harvard Science]
  9. Cryptography and Cryptanalysis: This course is an introduction to modern cryptography, with an emphasis on the fundamental cryptographic primitives of public-key encryption, digital signatures, pseudo-random number generation, and basic protocols and their computational complexity requirements. [MIT]
  10. Cybercrime: Criminal acts that are accomplished while sitting at a computer keyboard are the focus of this course. Learn about viruses, worms, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and denial of service attacks; distributing and creating child pornography, stealing identities; selling contraband and stalking victims. [Harvard Law School]
  11. Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier: How to law, policy and technology relate to the evolving controversies over Internet control? Learn about regulations and technologies that govern Internet use, including computer crime. [MIT]
  12. Forensic Biology and Impression Evidence: Learn about the major contributors to the development of forensic science and about the responsibilities of police officers that are first to arrive at a crime scene as well as the role and responsibilities of expert witnesses. [KAPLAN]
  13. Hustlers, Drugs and Prison: This is just one of many videos with transcripts that focus on various areas within criminology. [Open Vault]
  14. Introduction to Copyright Law: This course approaches copyright law and American law in general, including the structure of federal law, basics of legal research, legal citations, fair use and more. [MIT]
  15. Law and Society: This course examines law as a set of social systems with central actors, legal reasoning and the relationship of the legal form and reasoning to social change. The criminal justice system is part of this course. [MIT]
  16. Reading Seminar in Social Science: Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law: Learn about the relationship between race and crime in the U.S. with a special emphasis on the role this relationship has played in the development of American ideas about citizenship and nationhood. [MIT]
  17. Security and Terrorism Topics: This page tackles various perspectives on global security and terrorism through articles on those topics. [YaleGlobal Online]
  18. Terrorism, Peace and Other Inconsistencies: This course addresses a set of inter-related questions on topics such as suicide terrorism, the rationale behind the U.S. “war on terror” and whether the global community should deal with state terrorism in its varied forms. [Notre Dame]
  19. The Meaning of Crime: What is crime? This unit examines how society defines crime and how communities generate fear and available evidence to support claims that are made about crime rates. [The Open University]
  20. The Problem with Crime: The material in this course is based upon an audio file, originally 29 minutes in length, and examines the problem of crime in relation to the city of Glasgow in 1999. [The Open University]
  21. The Technology of Crime: The material presented here focuses on core controversies surrounding the increased use of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) for the purposes of crime control and general surveillance. [The Open University]
  22. Trials in History: This course examines famous European and American trials throughout history while considering political, social and cultural issues, trial construction and then-current public discussion. [MIT]
  23. Violence, Human Rights, and Justice: This course addresses the contemporary problem of political violence and the way that human rights have been conceived as a means to protect and promote freedom, peace and justice for citizens against the abuses of the state. [Teachers Without Borders]
  24. White-Collar and Corporate Crime: Learn more about criminal activity within professions, organizations and businesses. Professor Henry Pontell from the Social Ecology Department developed this course. [UCIrvine]
  25. Youth delinquency: This abstract deals with socio-psychological factors that contribute to youth delinquency. The resource list at the end of the page is valuable to criminology students who wish to pursue this subject. [Wikiversity]
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