Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
A History of Crime and Punishment
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 3 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or other materials into the examination.  100%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or other materials into the examination.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

To gain knowledge of the scope of (and necessarily therefore the limitations upon) the criminal regulation of behaviour and the response thereto from an investigation of historical data. Significant factors in the process of development with be explained and the student's capacity for the analysis and critical discussion of those factors examined. To acquaint students with the sources of knowledge in this area and problems with their use.

Brief description

The way in which legal agencies (and indeed private individuals) have treated offenders against the criminal law is a subject which has a fascinating history. The conduct which is subject to the prohibition of the criminal law changes over time, as does the method of bringing cases to court and the treatment of offenders. This course explores such changes. Starting with medieval criminal law and procedure and working through to the nineteenth century it considers such matters as the community punishment by "rough music", the history of transportation and the penitentiary system. Students will be introduced to contemporary sources and be encouraged to consider not only the events of the past but also the ways in which they may be interpreted and understood by the present. The history of prosecution and punishment of offenders has an intrinsic interest but also a profound theoretical significance dealing as it does with the limits of state intervention in the lives of citizens, conceptions of justice and the divergence between policy and practice. Further details of the course may be obtained from members of the teaching team.


To consider the crucial issues of societal regulation of behaviour by the criminal law and punitive sanction from a historical perspective. A critical and reflective approach to both past and present responses to the persistent debate about such matters is hereby developed.



1. Sources and Methods
The range of source material - problems in using and interpreting these materials - issues of reliability and completeness, theoretical approaches.

2. Early Crime and Punishment
Problems of evidence, the issue of proof, felony, misdemeanour, treason and their punishments.

3. Capital Punishment in the Early Modern Period and the C18
The objectives and use of corporal punishment generally, the proliferation of capital offences and the development of the 'Bloody Code' - the ritual of public execution, the mitigation of capital punishment : pardons, benefit of clergy; pregnancy; revaluing the offence; transportation.

4. The Emergence of New Penal technologies, with special reference to the Use of the Prison.
The development of penal theory and ideas of penal reform (mid C18 - mid C19), houses of correction, transportation and the hulks, the prison regime.

5. Community Punishment
The role of the state in crime and punishment - private control of the process, with reference to informal settlement particularly in the early modern period.


This module is at CQFW Level 6