Accessibility statement

Prisons & Penal Policy - SPY00046H

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Rachel Vipond
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Nelson Mandela famously proclaimed that ‘no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails’ taking this statement as its foundation this module is designed to encourage students to explore the state of the prison system in England and Wales. In undertaking such exploration a wide range of discourses will be introduced, the official discourse of the state, prisoners’ perspectives, media representations and the perspectives of those employed within prisons to try to ascertain as fuller a picture as possible as to ultimately whether or not prison works.

Module learning outcomes

The course aims to enable students:

• to have an enhanced understanding of the history of imprisonment in England and Wales;

• to debate and assess the tensions generated by approaches that seek to punish but also rehabilitate;

• to know the current legislative framework in relation to prisons;

• to engage with contemporary debates about imprisonment in England and Wales and form a critical perspective on them.

By the end of the module, students should be aware of the history and development of the use of imprisonment in England and Wales, be familiar with current legislation and the systems used to uphold it. They should have explored the tensions generated by approaches that seek to punish but also rehabilitate and be able to analyse the political and moral forces that shape society’s approach imprisonment.


Task Length % of module mark
Individual Report
N/A 50
Group Poster
N/A 50

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

Crewe, Ben. (2009) The Prisoner Society: Power, Adaptation, and Social Life in an English Prison. Oxford: Oxford University.

Jewkes, Y. (ed) (2016) Handbook on Prisons, 2nd edition. Cullumpton: Willan.

Liebling, A. & Maruna, S. (eds) (2005) The Effects of Imprisonment. Cullumpton: Willan

Scott, D & Codd, H (2010) Controversial Issues in Prisons, Berkshire: Open University Press.

Scott, D & Flynn, N (2014) Prisons and Punishment: The Essentials, 2nd edition, London: Sage.

Wilson, D (2014) Pain and Retribution: A Short History of British Prisons, 1066 to the Present, London: Reakiton Books Ltd.

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.