Accessibility statement

Criminal Justice and Inequality - SPY00032C

« Back to module search

  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Joanne Bretherton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

Criminal Justice and Inequality explores how opportunity, advantage and disadvantage shape the governance of crime in England and Wales. We look at which groups are more and less likely to be criminalised for transgressive behaviours, as well as looking at inequalities evident in the provision of the justice system. Social class, place, economic inequalities, gender, ‘race’/ethnicity and other matters of difference such as sexuality, disability and age are explored using qualitative and quantitative data, to consider lived experiences as well as broad patterns of inequality as they relate to criminal justice. There are two assessment points: (i) students are asked to trace the basic outline of one inequality using different types of data, then (ii) to explain the causes of this inequality drawing on two different theories, identifying two priorities for addressing this inequality.


  • To foster student appreciation of notions of difference and diversity as they relate to the governance of crime and disorder, focussed on social divisions such as race, gender, socio-economic disadvantage, age and how these intersect

  • To develop understanding of how key social inequalities are manifest in the governance of crime and disorder; including consideration of who enters (and does not enter) the criminal justice system and how the criminal justice process operates for different groups

  • To introduce students to key theories which explain crime-related inequalities in different ways

  • To develop critical skills by engaging with a variety of types of evidence and data on inequality and crime (e.g. qualitative, qualitative, lived experience perspectives, government data, campaigning and grey literature, policy reports etc)

Module learning outcomes

  • Trace key patterns of inequality (including socio-economic disadvantage, gender, race and ethnicity, disability and sexuality) relevant to the governance of crime and disorder

  • Appreciate the importance of equality and diversity initiatives in the design and delivery of crime-related interventions

  • Recognise and understand key theories which explain the causes of inequalities as they relate to the governance of crime and disorder

  • Appreciate how different types of data and evidence are mobilised in understanding and addressing patterns of inequality in relation to crime and disorder


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be given in accordance with the University Policy on feedback in the Guide to Assessment as well as in line with the School policy.

Indicative reading

Coleman et al (2009) State, Power, Crime London: Sage

Newburn, T., (2016) Social disadvantage, crime, and punishment. Social advantage and disadvantage, pp.322-340

Rowe, M. (2012) Race and Crime, London: Sage

Seal, L. (2021) Gender, Crime and Justice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Official reports on criminal justice and inequality statistics, e.g. race/ethnicity and gender

Think tank grey literature on diversity and difference, e.g. Criminal Justice Alliance

Journal articles reporting qualitative research on lived experiences of criminal justice inequalities.

Specialist texts on domain-specific CJ inequalities e.g. Taylor, S. (2022) Hate Crime Policy and Disability: From Vulnerability to Ableism, Bristol: Policy 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.