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Unit information: A Sociology of Crime and Justice in 2021/22

Unit name A Sociology of Crime and Justice
Unit code SOCI20073
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Naughton
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

What is 'crime'? What causes it? Is the criminal justice system fair? Does it deal with the most significant forms of behaviour or activities that cause us/society the most harm? Is imprisonment an appropriate or effective remedy in the fight to reduce crime? These are the kind of questions explored by this unit. It looks at how public discourses fail to distinguish between 'crime' and 'justice'. A more sociological approach, however, emphasises the way in which not only criminal activity, but also the State's response to it, and our ways of thinking about it, are socially produced and constructed. The wider category of 'justice' requires attention to other significant causes of harm, some of which are created by the criminal justice system itself.

The Unit will:

  • Help students understand the social construction of crime and criminal law.
  • Explain the working of the criminal justice system
  • Show how the conflation of ‘crime and justice’ obscures a full understanding of social harm.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Level 5

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Describe and analyse the social character of crime and justice;
  • Asses the limitations of the criminal justice system in addressing crime and social harm;
  • Respond critically to media representations of crime and justice.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

1,500 word essay (25%) 2,500 word essay (75%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCI20073).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.