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Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice - SPY00042I

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

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module will explore the challenges and issues facing the CJS in the 21st century. Drawing on an overarching theoretical framework, key issues - and their connections - for UK police, courts, prison and probation services will be explored. For theoretical context, the concept of ‘late modernity’ - a broad set of social changes rooted in the last 30 years - will be used. Late modernity adds significant value to understanding instances of change, offering insights into links between (for example) transnational crime and privatisation; or between new forms of social control, and evidence based practice within the police.

After exploring the theoretical backdrop for late modernity, using experiences of COVID (a global, disruptive, existential threat) as a grounded case study, contemporary debates will explore issues of justice and due process; risk; mixed economies; social control; vulnerability; and the influence of crime science and technology as they apply to the workings of the criminal justice system from policing, through the courts, and into prison and probation.

Module learning outcomes

  • Students will be able to articulate and critique key ideas about contemporary society.

  • Students will be able to identify and describe the key issues facing contemporary criminal justice agencies within the UK.

  • Students will be able to critically assess the extent to which current developments fit the models suggested by mainstream theoretical frameworks.

  • Students will be able to analyse and describe relationships and incongruities between key challenges facing criminal justice agencies.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Portfolio
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Portfolio
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

Deutschmann, M. and Wanke, M. (2020). ‘Risk university: the uncertainty of late modernity coming too early.’ Society Register 4(3):145-160

Raffini, L. and Penalva-Verdu, C. (2022). ‘The problematic relationship between science, politics and public opinion in late modernity: the case of the anti-vax movement in Spain and Italy.’ In H. Eslen-Ziya and A. Giorgi (eds.) Populism and Science in Europe. Palgrave-Macmillan: Hampshire (pp.141-160).

Aas, F.K. (2013) Globalization and Crime. Sage

Garland, D. (2002) Cultures of Control [introduction]

Cullen, FT, and Gendreau, P. (2001). From nothing works to what works, changing professional ideology in the 21st Century.

Hannah-Moffat, K. (2018). ‘Algorithmic risk governance: big data analytics, race and information activism in criminal justice debates,’ Theoretical Criminology 23(4):453-470

Berk, R.A. (2021). ‘Artificial intelligence, predictive policing, and risk assessment for law enforcement.’ Annual Review of Criminology 4:209-237

Richardson, r., Schultz, J.M. and Crawford, K. (2019). ‘Dirty data, bad predictions: how civil rights violations impact police data, predictive policing systems, and justice.’ New York University Law Review 192:15-57

Casey, L. [forthcoming] Post-Everard independent review into the Metropolitan Police’s culture and standards.

Lowerson, E.J. (2022). ‘Proportionate? The Metropolitan Police Service response to the Sarah Everard vigil: Leigh v Commissioner of Police of the MEtropolis [2022] EWHC 527. The Journal of Criminal Law doi:10.1177/00220183221101957

Lum, C. and Koper, C.S. (2017). Evidence-Based Policing. Translating Research into Practice. Oxford: OUP

Ludlow, A. Something on the privatisation of prisons and probation (Oxford Handbook, perhaps)

Dominey, J. and Gelsthorpe, L. (2020) ‘Who cares? Probation practice and privatisation.’ In L. Gelsthorpe, M. Perveez and B. Sloan (eds.) Spaces of Care. Bloomsbury: Oxford (pp.39-53).

Bauman, Z. Liquid Modernity

Kemshall, R. (2005). Understanding Risk in Criminal Justice

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.