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Unit information: Harms of the Powerful in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Harms of the Powerful
Unit code SPOL20034
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Ms. Pantazis
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The crimes and harms, including violence, committed by corporations and states are among the most devastating of all crimes and harms. This unit examines the nature, extent, and impact of the harms of the powerful and seeks to understand the various explanations for this type of activity. The specific aims of the unit are to:

  • examine the crimes and harms of the powerful focusing on their nature, extent and impact
  • theorise about the causes of the harms of the powerful
  • examine the different approaches traditionally taken to law enforcement and policy intervention in this field and review their effectiveness.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should be able to:

  • demonstrate the different types of crimes and harms associated with corporate and state actors
  • assess the prevalence and impact of their activities on society
  • explain why such crimes and harms occur
  • evaluate law enforcement strategies including recent policies and interventions (in both national and international levels) which attempt to hold corporations and states accountable for their actions.

Teaching details

Lectures (20 hours) and Seminars (10 hours) plus 1 reading week and 1 revision week.

Assessment Details

The assessments have been developed in order to meet the intended learning outcomes of the unit:

Formative assessment:

  • a seminar presentation of a small group project which has been jointly researched, and
  • One 2500 (maximum) word essay
  • Summative assessment is
  • One 3000 (maximum) word essay.

All assessment is marked against the published marking criteria for that level, as stated in the Programme handbook.

Reading and References

Barak, G. (2015) (ed.) The Routledge international handbook of the crimes of the powerful, Oxford: Routledge

Chambliss, W., Michalowski;R., Kramer, R. (2010) State crime in the global age, Cullompton : Willan Publishing

Cohen, S. (2000) States of Denial, London: Polity Press

Stanley, E. and McCulloch, J. (2013) (eds.) State Crime and Resistance, London: Routledge

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2015) The Corporate Criminal. Why corporations must be abolished, London: Routledge

Whyte, D. (2015) (ed.) How Corrupt is Britain? London: Pluto Press