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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LAW3172 Crime, Law and Social Change: Crime and Criminal Justice in Historical Perspective

20 creditsClass Size: 104

Module manager: Kisby Dickinson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is mutually exclusive with

LAW3171Crime, Law and Social Change: Crime and Criminal Justice in

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This 20 credit module explores the history of crime and criminal justice. It examines both the development of key criminal justice institutions, such as policing and the penal system, as well as changing historical patterns in offending, including the decline of violence in modern societies. These two broad areas will be consistently analysed with reference to the wider historical context. Students will, therefore, examine the social, political, moral and economic factors which shape crime, our understandings of crime and our attempts to deal it with through the criminal justice system. By the end of the module, students' critical comprehension of how the historical present came into being will enable them to adopt critical, historical perspectives on crime and criminal justice in contemporary society.


On this module:
- students will examine changing patterns of crime and key historical developments in criminal justice;
- students will critically assess the ideas, beliefs and values which shape definitions of and responses to crime;
- students will be able to identify key historical processes which are continuing to shape crime and criminal justice today.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able:
- to analyse how and why crime has changed over time;
- to analyse how and why the criminal justice system has changed over time;
- to use this critical, historically grounded understanding to explore the future of crime and criminal justice.

Skills outcomes
Subject Specific:
- Detailed understanding of key historical developments in crime and criminal justice.
- Ability to think critically about crime as a historically relative phenomenon.
- Ability to analyse the relationship between criminal justice developments and their historical contexts.
- Appreciation of the present as a construct of the past.
- Teamwork: group work during seminars will strengthen teamwork skills.
- Communication: portfolio tasks will develop students' abilities to communicate information in a variety of formats.
- Project management: assessment through a large essay and series of shorter portfolio tasks both necessitate an ability to conduct research, produce written work and meet deadlines.


The syllabus will cover four units of work that each encompass a specific area of the history of crime and criminal justice.

a) Criminalisation in modern history (e.g. criminalisation of customary practices in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; criminalisation of aspects of popular recreation in nineteenth and twentieth centuries).

b) Changing constructions of criminals (e.g. female offenders, juvenile offenders, ethnic minorities and relations with criminal justice system)

c) Crime control and the state (e.g. creation of the ‘new police’, development of criminal courts, capital and corporal punishment).

d) Violence and civilizing process (changes to long-term levels of violence, competing theoretical explanations for these changes).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning51.005.00
Private study hours176.50
Total Contact hours23.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

The online learning element is broken down into 15 minute tasks, there will be 20 x 15 minute tasks overall.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

A formative assessment opportunity will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Written Work3,000 word guided research task100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/06/2024 10:32:01


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