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Crime & Punishment - LAW00045H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Jackson Allen
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module addresses the question of 'why punish?' and how punishment can be justified. It also asks who can rightfully be punished and so engages with issues of responsibility.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The module will explore the normative foundations of our criminal law and some issues that arise within it. Topics to be discussed include criminalization (what ought to be criminalized and why?); the justification of punishment; responsibility, excuse and justification in the criminal law (are psychopaths responsible for their acts?, should there be a defence of battered woman syndrome?, what counts as self-defence?, should poor social background or different culture be a defence?, and so on). In looking at these topics we will be discussing the ways in which citizens relate to one another and to the state.

Module learning outcomes

To develop in students a critical appreciation of the nature of law; to develop students' analytical skills; to develop students' ability to relate abstract issues in contemporary political philosophy to concrete problems in the criminal law; to develop students' ability to evaluate propositions and develop arguments on normative issues within criminal law


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative feedback is provided to students:

(i) via feedback during learning activities (e.g. on specific skills performances); and (ii) on a formatively assessed procedural essay draft.

Written feedback on the summative assessment will be provided within period stipulated in the University's Policy on Assessment Feedback Turnaround Time.

Indicative reading

  • Lucia Zedner (2004), Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press).
  • Katz, Moore and Morse (eds.) (1999), Foundations of Criminal Law (Foundation Press).

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.