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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joseph G Weis
SOC 275
Seattle Campus


Introduces topics related to the crime of murder, including: laws of homicide; research on the characteristics of victims, killers, and murders; theories of murder and related violence; investigation strategies; and crime and control policies.

Class description

MURDER Sociology 275 Joe Weis


The course will introduce students to murder--the intentional, malicious killing of one human being by another. It is a contemporary topic, which generates public concern and fear, and about which there seems to be an intrinsic, perhaps even morbid, curiosity. Many, but certainly not all, of characteristics and complexities of this very difficult-to-comprehend form of human behavior and its control will be examined in the course.

The topics which will be addressed include: The history and laws of murder; information and data sources on murder; personal, social, and demographic attributes of victims and of their killers; salient features of murder incidents; important correlates of murder; the ecology or spatial distribution of various components of a murder incident; different types of murder, including domestic, serial, mass, sexual, juvenile, stranger, and felony-related murders; many of the theories of the causes of murder, particularly social psychological, social structural, cultural, social control, conflict, and routine activities perspectives; the investigation of homicides; profiling potential killers; deterrence and capital punishment; and the relationship between the murder rate and gun control. Those and related topics will be covered in readings, lectures, and films.

There will also be a couple of films on different aspects of murder, for examples: Autopsy, on the role of forensic pathologists in classifying cause of death; and The Riverman, about the Green River murder. In addition, a variety of crime scene photos and other slides will be integrated into many of the lectures.


There is one required book--an edited set of readings, by Joseph Weis and Robert Keppel, Murder: A Multidisciplinary Anthology of Readings (Fourth Edition, Wiley, 2010). Note: The fourth edition is dark blue with a revolver pointed at you. This book is designed in conjunction with and specifically for this class. A Reading Assignments list is attached. III. REQUIREMENTS

Participation: Students are expected to attend all of the lecture/discussion periods. Attendance in this class is critical, because much of the course content will only be communicated and discussed in lectures, by the instructor, or in the films. Of course, students are also expected do all of the assigned readings.

Examinations: There are two discrete examinations, each worth 80 points, for a total of 160 points. Each exam will consist of 40 objective, multiple-choice questions drawn from readings, lectures, and films.

The dates for the exams are:

Exam 1: Friday, July 12

Exam 2: Wednesday, July 24

Please note: There are no makeup exams, unless there is a written medical excuse or a documented emergency prevents you from being at an exam. There will be no early final exams (Exam 2), for example, for summer vacation; if there is a conflict, do not enroll in the class.


244 Savery Hall Thursday: by appointment

Office phone: 685-2043 email:

V. COURSE WEBPAGE The webpage contains most of the relevant information for the course, and should be consulted on a regular basis for information, announcements, and so on. For example, the course outline, assignments and exams. However, some of it may only be mentioned in class.


FOR EXAM 1 (Friday, July 12) Read Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Murder (Fourth Edition) by Weis and Keppel

FOR EXAM 2 (Wednesday, July 24) Read Chapters 5 and 6 in Murder (Fourth Edition) by Weis and Keppel ____________________________________________________________

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Joseph G Weis
Date: 06/21/2013