Symon: UNSW Inside The Criminal Minds (January 2021)

The early origins of colonial Australia arose from the labour of convicts shipped over from Great Britain. It seems only fitting then that experts on the criminal mind would come together at UNSW to host a virtual course to discuss the origins, statistics, and treatments for Australia’s offender groups. Undertaking SOMS 1501 – Inside the Criminal Mind was a unique opportunity to gather insight into the criminal world based on scientific research and expert experience. From young offenders to wrinkly wrongdoers, the clinical expertise imparted through daily livestreams is a must do for the aspiring criminologist or true crime fanatic. Of general interest were lectures on serial killers and the fabled psychopath. The deep fascination that everyone held with this topic was apparent, as a barrage of questions were posed in an effort to clear up myths and better understand the predatory nature of some of society’s worst offenders.

On the other hand students also enjoyed the opportunity to better understand the perspective of people dedicating their lives to fighting crime. Students were able to engage in discussion with detectives who are making efforts to outsmart the Vietnamese crime syndicate growing cannabis in Australia’s sunny suburbia. Finally perhaps the most privileged segment of the course was the opportunity to live stream into Sydney’s most progressive prison. After a presentation from the Governor on the leaps and strides they are making towards more effective rehabilitation, there was ample opportunity to discuss with a group of inmates about their experiences within the new system. It was truly inspiring to see such progress and hear in an incredibly articulate fashion the perspectives of these men.

Primarily I am a student who loves to fill my schedule and often this can turn life into an intense juggling act. The biggest concern I had undertaking this course was in how I would be able to maintain a work-study balance. The short duration week-long of the course helped in this regard, but the prospect of 12 hour work-study days still daunted me. In reality the virtual nature of the course proved to be an advantage as any content I failed to grasp or misremember could be immediately reviewed in the recordings. The daily running time of the course was approximately 6 – 7 hours and the technical issues were few and far between. The biggest recommendation I could offer with this course is to ask as many questions as you can. You have at your disposal some of the greatest Australian minds on criminology. Dig deep and make use of their knowledge and experience with the criminal mind.  

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