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Working in the Criminal Justice System - SOC00048H

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Carol Robinson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module gives you the opportunity to engage with key debates related to working in the criminal justice system. Looking at the roles and responsibilities of people working in the criminal justice system, it relates key sociological concepts to the experience of working or volunteering in the criminal justice system. It is structured around specific occupations and there will be contributions from practitioners.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • Provide an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of people working within the criminal justice system, informed by sociological and criminological theory.
  • Develop students’ understanding of the criminal justice system from the perspective of those working within it.
  • Inform and engage students in the key debates around work in the criminal justice system.

Module learning outcomes

Having completed the module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss a range of types of work within the criminal justice system and make comparisons between roles.
  • Understand and critically respond to current debates about work in the criminal justice system.
  • Critically engage with debates about the roles and responsibilities of those working in the criminal justice system.
  • Relate Sociological and Criminological concepts to the experiences of those working in the criminal justice system.
  • Analyse the extent to which the contributions of those working within the criminal justice system meet the goals of the system.
  • Communicate a scholarly argument in the visual format of a poster

Module content

Teaching will be delivered in a three hour workshop.

Week 2: *Police officers

Week 3: Police officers

Week 4: Volunteers

Week 5: Prison Officers

Week 6: *Prison Managers

Week 7: Community development workers

Week 8: Social work and healthcare professionals

Week 9: Probation officers    

*Possible alumni/guest speaker

Themes to be considered in relation to these roles: discretion; recruitment and representation; emotional labour; managerialism; identification of ‘clients’; care vs discipline; privatisation, occupational culture, gender.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Poster
N/A 25
Assessment 2 - 3000 word essay
N/A 75

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment is conducted via peer and staff feedback on an analysis of samples of academic posters, in preparation for producing an academic poster for summative assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Poster
N/A 25
Assessment 2 - 3000 word essay
N/A 75

Module feedback

Oral feedback is provided in seminars particularly via formative work

Feedback on summative work is provided in written format and additional oral feedback (based on the written feedback) is provided by personal supervisors.

Indicative reading

Bennett, J., Crewe, B. and Wahidin, A. (Eds.) (2008) Understanding Prison Staff. Cullompton: Willan Publishing

Bennett, J., (2016). The working lives of prison managers : global change, local culture and individual agency in the late modern prison, Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan.

Cockcroft, T. (2013). Police culture: themes and concepts. Abingdon: Routledge

Crawley, E, (2004) Doing Prison work. Cullompton, Devon; Willan

Gelsthorpe, L., Padfield, N. and Padfield, N., (2003). Exercising discretion : decision-making in the criminal justice system and beyond, Cullompton : London: Willan Publishing ; Routledge.

Martin, S.E. and Jurik, Nancy C., (2007). Doing justice, doing gender: women in legal and criminal justice occupations 2nd ed., Thousand Oaks, Calif.; London: Sage Publications.

Mawby, R.C. and Worrall, Anne, (2013). Doing probation work: identity in a criminal justice occupation, New York: Routledge.

Norman, A.E. and Parrish, Alan, (2002). Prison nursing, Oxford: Blackwell Science.

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.