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Crime fiction

Updated Thursday, 6 June 2024

Explore the world of crime fiction with The Open University, a world leader in distance learning. Discover free courses, articles, video and audio resources, and interactive activities, free to study and available to start right away.

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Crime fiction is the best-selling literary genre in Great Britain and other European countries. People’s reasons for reading, watching and listening to crime stories are many and varied. Maybe you like the puzzle element, testing your wits against those of the detective, or you could enjoy trying to understand the motives of the criminal. Perhaps you’re interested in learning about what behaviour is considered criminal in different societies and periods, or you might just want to be reassured by stories in which crime doesn’t pay. 

As well as literature, crime fiction opens the way to explore issues and themes from a range of academic disciplines – sociology, psychology, criminology, history and cultural studies. Whatever your reasons for liking crime fiction, we’re sure you’ll find information and ideas in the resources featured on this page that will deepen your understanding of the genre and enhance your appreciation of your favourite authors. Happy investigating!

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