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Unit information: A Sociology of Crime and Justice in 2015/16

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Unit name A Sociology of Crime and Justice
Unit code SOCI30047
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
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

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

  1. Theoretical and historical understanding of the dynamics underpinning the post-industrial economy;
  2. Demonstrated ability to identify assumptions in postmodern theories of travel and tourism;
  3. Detailed knowledge of the importance of tourism and leisure in altering national and ethnic identification;
  4. Comprehension of the ways in which cultural forces work alongside and in relative autonomy from economic and material variables.

Teaching Information

1 hour lecture and two hours of seminars.

Assessment Information

Assessment: two summative essays as follows:

First essay of 2000 words plus Second essay of 3000 words. First essay counts for 25% and the Second essay counts for 75%.

Detailed guidance will be provided to students in relation to each of these assessments so that they are clear about how to perform well in those assessments. The student will also receive a detailed feedback sheet for the first essay.

Will assess the achievement of learning outcomes 1 and/or 2 and/or 3.

  • 75% for the second essay. Depending on the essay title chosen, it will assess the achievement of learning outcomes 1 and/or 2 and/or 3.

Reading and References

  • Hillyard, P. Pantazis, C. Gordon, D. & Tombs, S. (2004) (Editors) Social Harm: Beyond Criminology London: Pluto Press.
  • Maguire, M. Morgan, R. & Reiner, R. (2007) (eds) The Oxford handbook of criminology (4th Edition) Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Muncie, J. McLaughlin, E. & Langan, M. (1997) (Editors) Criminological Perspectives: A Reader London: SAGE Publications.
  • Box, S. (1984) Power, Crime And Mystification London: Routledge.