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Unit information: Representations of Crime and Harm in 2021/22

Unit name Representations of Crime and Harm
Unit code SPOL10037
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Mulvihill
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces you to a critical understanding of how crime and harm are represented through different media. These may include:

  • News media (for example: online, broadcast, print)
  • Social media (for example: trial by social media, citizen journalism, livecasting offending, performance crimes)
  • TV, film, radio (for example: documentaries, podcasts, drama, true-crime series)
  • Text (for example: crime fiction, crime biographies, policy documents, music lyrics)
  • Visual culture (for example: art and sculpture, graphics, court sketches, photojournalism, architecture, graffiti, theatre, advertising)

Representations of crime and harm can perpetuate stereotypes of offenders and perpetrators, of the criminal justice system, of where crime happens and indeed what ‘crime’ is and is not. It can reflect and confirm, or it can challenge and re-shape public understanding and governance of crime. You will be introduced to both established and emerging theoretical perspectives, as well as case studies and examples, to consider the issues raised.

Aims of the unit:

  • To examine how crime and harm are represented through diverse media
  • To appreciate how different theories can be applied to articulate and evidence different representations of crime and harm
  • To evaluate the impact of these representations on public understanding and on the governance of crime and harm.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss how crime and harm are represented through different types of media
  2. Appraise representations of crime and harm in terms of their production, purpose and content
  3. Analyse how representations of crime and harm can influence public perceptions and crime control responses All ILOs will be assessed across summative parts 1 and 2.

Teaching Information

Students will engage with asynchronous taught content (including, for example, narrated slides and other teaching and research materials) and will be tasked to complete activities in preparation for a weekly synchronous slot (a 'seminar') to present and discuss ideas and clarify learning.

Assessment Information

Part 1: Engagement and Collaboration: evidences through portfolio of seminar-based activities (50%) Part 2: Recorded presentation (5 minutes) with slides and/or notes and list of references (50%)


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. SPOL10037).

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.