Module Identifier LA36320  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Miss Katherine Williams  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Professor Christopher Harding, Mr Gavin Dingwall  
Course delivery Lecture   40 Hours One two hour and two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminar   8 Hours Four two hour seminars during the semester  
Assessment Essay   3000 word essay required in week 9   50%  
  Exam   1.5 Hours   50%  
  Resit assessment   By retaking the failed element (ie written assignment or examination or both if applicable)    
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional Purposes  

Module 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 and 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; the level of particular criminal activities and the statistical analysis of crime; problems which may arise in the enforcement of criminal law; the impact of criminal justice on different groups in society, particularly victims; issues of gender, race and age; the process of sentencing and the operation of the most significant penal measures, including those which may have as their main objectives the treatment and rehabilitation of offenders or the protection of society.

The subject is one which invites critical analysis and is well-known generally as a catalyst for controversy and debate. The problem of dealing with crime is a significant issue for most societies and the official response to this problem through the mechanisms of criminal justice and the penal system is an interesting testing ground for argument about the effectiveness of law. The procedures, institutions and agencies of the criminal justice systems are studied in detail and analysed critically. Comparisons are drawn where appropriate with approaches taken in other legal systems and present responses are set in the context of the historical development of policies to deal with crime and delinquency.

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 subjects.

Aims of the module

More generally, 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. More particularly, the module will develop an appreciation of the role of law in dealing with social delinquency and an understanding of the means of measuring and testing the effectiveness of legal responses to the problems of crime.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes

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.


1. Theories:

In relation to delinquency and behavioural control

Of criminal justice

Relating to Penal Policy and the Penal System

2. The Phenomenon of Crime

The 'politics' of crime
Establishing the level and patterns of crime: official criminal statistics - alternative methods of establishing the crime rate
Analysing data relating to crime
Theoretical assessment of crime and its occurance
Media perceptions of crime
Sentencing, facts and figures

3. Enforcement and crime control

Crime prevention and multi-agency enforcement
Different methods of policing and enforcement
The allocation of responsibility for crime prevention and enforcement - particular and individual responsibility.

4. The sentencing process and the principles of sentencing

The repertoire of sentences
The choice between custodial and non-custodial measures
The objectives underlying the choice of sentence : punishment, rehabilitation and protection of society

5. Special Categories

Mentally disordered persons
Young offenders and Juveniles
Issues of gender
Issues of race


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.

Reading Lists

** Supplementary Text
Maeve McMahon. (1992) The Persistent Prison.
John Lea and Jock Young. (1993) What is to be done about Law and Order?.
David Morgan and Geoffrey Stephenson. (1994) Suspicion and Silence.
S Field and P A Thomas. Justice and Efficiency?.
Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan and Robert Reiner. (1997) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 2nd.
Andrew Ashworth. (1998) The Criminal Process: An Evaluative Study. 2nd.
C Harding and L Koffman. (1995) Sentencing and the Penal System: Text and Materials. 2nd.
M Cavadino and J Dignan. (1997) The Penal System : and Introduction. 2nd.
E Stockdale & S Casale. (1992) Criminal Justice Under Stress.
M Wasik and R Taylor. (1994) Blackstones Guide to the Criminal Justice Act 1991. 2nd.
J Young and R Matthews. (1992) Rethinking Criminology and Realist Debate.
A Duff and D Garland. (1994) A Reader of Punishment.
G Dingwall and C Harding. (1998) Diversion in the Criminal Process.
K S Williams. (1997) A Textbook on Criminology. 3rd.
K Stenson and D Cowell (Eds). (1991) The Politics of Crime.
M Mansfield QC. (1993) Presumed Guilty.
C Walker & K Starmer. (1993) Justice in Error.
Andrew Ashworth. (1995) Sentencing and Criminal Justice. 2nd.
A Sandersand R Young. (1994) Criminal Justice.
Von Hirsch and A Ashworth. (1998) Principles of Sentencing. 2nd.
M Wasik, T Gibbons and M Redmayne. (1998) Criminal Justice - Text and Materials.

Technical Reports
(1994) The Royal Commission on Criminal Justice.
(1993) Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice and some of the reports associated with it..