The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies (CrimSL)

CrimSL is a research and teaching unit at the University of Toronto. Founded in 1963 by Prof. John Edwards, CrimSL faculty and students study crime, justice, and governance through law from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and theoretical approaches.  With backgrounds in sociology, anthropology, history, law, psychology, philosophy and political science, the faculty are actively engaged in Canadian and international criminological and sociolegal research. The CrimSL library (the Criminology Information Service) houses the leading Canadian research collection of criminological material, consisting of more than 25,000 books, journals, government reports, statistical sources and other documents.

The Criminology and Sociolegal Studies program incorporates theory, research methods, and knowledge from a wide range of disciplines. The program provides students with a sound foundation for the understanding of crime and the administration of justice in Canada and abroad, and, more generally, the processes of social order and disorder. The curriculum also responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action by offering courses in Indigenous peoples and criminal justice and Indigenous law, as well as incorporating attention to Indigineity in other courses. Most students combine their studies in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies with programs in Political Science, Psychology or Sociology.

People with backgrounds in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies are found working in Correctional Services, Law Enforcement, Courts, Government departments, NGOs and other settings. Some careers in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies require additional education and experience beyond the undergraduate level. Please visit our website for a comprehensive career information page, course forms and other program resources. The Program Office is located in Woodsworth College and students in the program continue to benefit from the rich academic support services and facilities available at the College.


The undergraduate program in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies provides students with a sound foundation for the understanding of crime and the administration of justice in Canada and abroad, and, more generally, the processes of social order and disorder. Criminology and Sociolegal Studies incorporates theory, research methods, and knowledge from a wide range of other disciplines such as history, political science, philosophy, sociology, psychology, law and economics.

The courses in the program examine, to varying degrees, issues of social and ethical responsibility. The courses frequently challenge the student's perception of how the interests of various groups shape the manner in which society responds to unwanted behaviour. The examination of issues of social and ethical responsibility is an inherent component in the Criminology and Sociolegal Studies program. 

The program explores the nature of crime and the complexities in how society responds to it and the conflicting values inherent in the criminal justice system. Areas of study will include crime and criminal behaviour, theories of crime causation, criminal justice, principles and themes of Canadian criminal law, and an introduction to the criminal justice system.  Students in the major and specialist programs will have an opportunity to choose 300 and 400 level courses based on their areas of interest, for example, youth, gender, mental disorders, and law.  Students in the Specialist program will gain in depth knowledge of theories and research methodology used in the field of criminology and sociolegal studies in addition to further examining major criminal justice institutions and processes for law enforcement and punishment.

Course Sequencing

In the introductory courses (CRI205H1 Introduction to Criminology, CRI210H1 Criminal Justice, and CRI225H1 Criminal Law) students will learn how to think critically about the material and set the tone for advanced courses in the program.

In third-year courses, students are encouraged to think critically about the assumptions behind the various views of crime and the criminal justice system that are part of our everyday discussions. The focus is on going beyond simple views about crime and the justice system toward a more critical - and evidence-based - understanding of the general phenomena that relate to crime.

In fourth-year courses, students have an opportunity to study a number of specialized topics in a seminar setting.  These courses examine in depth topics that were covered in lower level courses.  The seminar courses are often connected to the instructors' research interests.  Students in 400-level courses will be required to complete extensive readings, research and writing assignments in addition to actively participating in seminar discussion.