Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Critical Perspectives on Imprisonment
Academic Year
Semester 1
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Group Presentation  20 – 30 Minutes (dependent on group size)  50%
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Exam Essay  Essay if presentation element failed 2000 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a sound critical awareness and understanding of the major theories, perspectives and concepts related to imprisonment.

2. Exhibit a knowledge and understanding penal policy locally, national and internationally.

3. Apply criminological and sociological theories to the contemporary prison landscape.

4. Utilize advanced sociological theory to interpret and analyse the subjective experience of imprisonment from the perspective of different populations.

5. Explain and critically analyse how processes of 'privatisation' and 'globalisation' have influenced penal policies and practices.

6. Demonstrate a sound knowledge of comparative social science methods to account for important cultural and structural differences between different penal cultures.

Brief description

This module examines the changing role and function of imprisonment in the context of late modern, 21st century societies. It introduces students to important sociological and comparative frameworks for interpreting the 'penal field' and encourages students to think subjectively about the experience of imprisonment. Students will be introduced to important policy debates relating to privatization, prison construction, mass incarceration, and the administrative detention of non-citizens. Normative questions relating to the legitimacy of imprisonment and administrative detention will also be explored from a social science perspective throughout the module. All of these themes will be discussed in local, national and international perspective in order to encourage comparative analysis.


Lecture topics:

Experiencing Imprisonment

Politics of Imprisonment

The Global Prison

Seminar topics will reflect the following themes:

Media Representations of the 'Total Institution'

Should prisons be privatized?

Assessed Presentations

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through the critical analysis of research findings students will develop an appreciation of how theory and practice merge within the prison and relevant penal policy settings.
Communication Oral communication will be encouraged during interactive seminar discussion and group work conducted within the seminar series. Written communication skills will be assessed by the essay. Oral communication will be assessed with the presentation.
Improving own Learning and Performance Interactive lectures and seminars will encourage the critical and lateral thinking of students. Tasks and exercises set in seminars will facilitate the learning of abstract concepts and advanced theories which students will use to analyse current policy issues.
Information Technology Searches of on-line electronic databases and journals will provide practice in IT skills. The core module content and lecture handouts will be made available on Blackboard. Students will also be required to utilize Powerpoint or Prezi for their presentations.
Personal Development and Career planning Independent study in preparation for lectures and seminars will develop autonomy in student’s learning. Group work and will equip students with the communication skills to engage with others in the work place.
Problem solving Students will have to consider a wide range of policy dilemmas confronting the contemporary penal landscape in England and Wales and other countries. This will enhance and develop problem solving skills and critical analysis. This will be assessed with both the essay and the presentation.
Research skills Students will be provided with methodological training that will enable them to conduct a comparative analysis of global imprisonment trends. The students will then be assessed on these skills during their presentations.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop advanced knowledge of sociological theories and methodological training that will allow them to think critically about the implications of current penal policy trends and possible alternatives to imprisonment.
Team work Small group work within seminars will foster team working and develop knowledge exchange between students and tutors.


This module is at CQFW Level 6