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Crime and Society in Britain and Ireland since 1750 - HIS00168I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Mark Roodhouse
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Ranging from the middle of the eighteenth century to the present, this module provides an introduction to the history of crime and crime control in Great Britain and Ireland. An imperial metropole for much of this period that remains at the core of the Common Law World, the influence of its criminal past and associated historiography extends far beyond the shores of the Atlantic Archipelago. Divided in two, the first part of this module explores the emergence of modern institutions and processes for controlling crime. By covering the development of the police, the courts and punishments, it provides students with the necessary historical background to understand the criminal justice systems of the UK and Ireland.

The second part of the module traces the broad pattern of criminal offending. After examining what we know about the varieties of offending across the period, we assess continuity and change in perceptions of crime and criminality and the media’s role in this, the changing experience of victims and the variety of criminal ‘careers’ before exploring evolving understanding of and responses to the problem of youth crime. Each week lectures provide students with a thorough grounding in historiography and chronology of that week’s topic which seminars explore in greater detail through discussion of a debate or key interpretation and through in-depth source-based case studies that speak to the issue.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth
  • To develop students’ ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • Be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 1-hour plenary/lecture and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 1. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW) during which there are no seminars. Students prepare for and participate in eight 1-hour plenaries/lectures and eight 2-hour seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Law enforcement and policing
  2. The law, courts and criminal justice
  3. Punishment and prisons
  4. Dark figures - the pattern of crime
  5. Darker imagingings - representation and perception of crime
  6. Disappearing victims - experiences of crime and justice
  7. Criminal lives - careers in crime
  8. Hooligans - youth crime and gangs


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students will complete a referenced 1200 to 1500-word essay relating to the themes and issues of the module. This will be submitted in either the Week 5 or Week 9 RAW week (on the day of the weekly seminar).

For summative assessment, students will complete an Assessed Essay (2000 words, footnoted). This will comprise 100% of the overall module mark.

Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Emsley, Clive. Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900, 5th edition. London: Routledge, 2018.
  • Nash, David and Anne-Marie Kilday. Murder and Mayhem: Crime in Twentieth Century Britain. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
  • Windle, James, Orla Lynch, Kevin Sweeney, Maggie O’Neill, Fiona Donson and James Cuffe. Criminology, Crime and Justice in Ireland: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2023.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.