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Debates in Criminal Justice - SPY00025I

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Sharon Grace
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Debates in Criminal Justice explores key contemporary debates in criminal justice policy and practice. The module links theoretical debates about justice, equality and discretion to real-world problems of the criminal justice system, ranging from such topical issues as privatisation, risk and technology to discrimination, race and gender.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

Debates in Criminal Justice aims to explore key contemporary debates in criminal justice policy and practice within their historical, social and political context. With the help of a theoretical framework that stresses justice, equality and discretion, this interactive module aims to debate the real-world changes and challenges to criminal justice today. It offers an advanced understanding of the criminal justice system, as well as the individuals and groups making up the system, particularly offenders, victims and the general public.

Module learning outcomes

The module focuses on 6 key learning outcomes.

(1) Creativity: Students link theoretical concepts and debates in the literature to real-world problems of the criminal justice system, as well as the individuals and groups making up the system, particularly offenders, victims and the general public.

(2) Knowledge: Through participating in lectures, student-driven seminars that are organised along the lines of key debates and through a summative essay and an assessed group presentation, students acquire a strong understanding of the strengths and limits of criminal justice.

(3) Research: Students learn to search the literature, data generated by criminal justice agencies - both qualitative and quantitative - to support and formulate their arguments.

(4) Communication: Students learn to express and challenge their own and each others ideas about contemporary criminal justice police throughout this module.

(5) Teamwork: Students will strengthen their teamwork skills and learn to work with a range of colleagues with diverse skill sets and work ethics, especially in the group presentation and in class. They will also learn to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of working in a team, especially in the Report assignment.

(6) Social Challenges: Students will see the significance of studying the criminal justice system and how it is linked to social inequalities, such as class, race, gender, and the impact the system has on social injustice more widely.

Students will see how the studied debates are about real life problems that several students will aim to tackle in their post-degree work.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 50
Report 2000 words
N/A 30
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation: Group Poster
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



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

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on their written and oral assessment parts.

Indicative reading

Joyce, Peter (2006). Criminal Justice. Willan Publishing.

Maguire, Mike (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford University Press.

Cross, Noel (2010). Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. Sage.

Garland, David (2001). The Culture of Control. Oxford University Press.

Gelsthorpe, Loraine (2003). Exercising Discretion. Willan Publishing.

Wacquant, Loic (2009). Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity. Duke.

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.