Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Criminal Justice and the Penal System
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 30 Hours total
Seminars / Tutorials 6 Hours = 3 x 2 hour seminars.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  (Seen). Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Exam  (Seen). Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

The course will teach and develop :

  • the ability to locate relevant materials and to select information from a range of sources.
  • knowledge and understanding of the law, policies and theories which shape the criminal justice and the penal systems.
  • an understanding of the key concepts of the subject and the methods of evaluating the operation of the system.
  • an understanding of the social background and wider context of criminal justice.
  • the ability to analyse data.
  • a wider experience in the methodology of the social sciences.
  • the ability to engage in rigorous debate and the presentation of logical and balanced argument.
  • critical study of the effectiveness of law.

Brief description

The terms 'criminal justice' and 'penal system' together refer to the collection of legal procedures and institutions which are used to give effect to the system of criminal law. In its widest context the process of criminal justice can be traced from its earliest stages in the elaboration of the laws to be enforced, through the investigation and prosecution of offending conduct (including diversion, trial and conviction) and culminating in the later stages of sentencing and implementation of those measures decided upon by sentencers. This amounts to a large body of policy, law and practice which provides the context in which substantive criminal law operates.

This course considers the theoretical basis and justification for the criminal justice and penal systems; the policy concerns which define conduct as criminal and the reasons behind the shaping of policies; global and comparative approaches to studying criminal justice; the sociological impact of the penal system on different members of society; and cross-national variation in penal cultures and practices.

The subject is one which invites critical analysis and is well-known generally as a catalyst for controversy and debate. Studying this type of subject necessarily entails reference to a wide range of materials within the whole spectrum of law and social science: legislation and case law; empirical research studies; statistical data; policy documents; and works of a theoretical kind based in both social science and moral philosophy. The module therefore has a strong interdisciplinary element which will broaden the experience of the student of law, while making the study of some areas of the legal system accessible to students of other disciplines.


Broadly speaking, the module aims to prepare students for a working environment by enhancing their ability to engage in analytical and critical debate and developing research skills both in the library and through the use of new technologies. Specifically, it will provide students with an interdisciplinary overview of the criminal justice process while challenging them to critically reflect on the effectiveness, the legitimacy and the desirability of the outcomes that it contributes to.


The module is taught through lectures and seminars. The lectures are intended to provide a framework for understanding the subject and developing a critical response to the issues which arise from it. Seminars provide the opportunity for more detailed discussion and analysis and often cover aspects not included in the lectures. Topics for seminar discussion and for written work are designed to encourage independent research by students.

  • Theories of Crime and Justice
  • Policing
  • Comparing Criminal Justice
  • Punishment and Imprisonment
  • Comparative Penology

Reading List

General Text
F Leishman, B Loveday & S Savage (2000) Core Issues in Policing 2nd ed. Longman Primo search K Stenson & R R Sullivan (2001) Crime, Risk & Justice Willan Primo search
Supplementary Text
Andrew Ashworth (1998) The Criminal Process: An Evaluative Study 2nd Oxford University Press Primo search C Harding and L Koffman (1995) Sentencing and the Penal System: Text and Materials 2nd Sweet & Maxwell Primo search G Dingwall and C Harding (1998) Diversion in the Criminal Process Sweet & Maxwell Primo search M Cavadino and J Dignan (2008) The Penal System : and Introduction 4th ed. Sage Primo search M Wasik, T Gibbons and M Redmayne (1998) Criminal Justice - Text and Materials Longman Primo search Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan and Robert Reiner (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 4th ed. Oxford University Press Primo search R.A. Duff and D. Garland (1994) A Reader on Punishment Oxford University Press Primo search Von Hirsch and A Ashworth (1998) Principled Sentencing 2nd Hart Publishing Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6