module specification

LL6054 - Penal Policy (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Penal Policy
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
114 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Project 100%   Research Project 2,000 words maximum
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to theories of punishment from a criminological and sociological standpoint. It also deals with aspects of sentencing practice and procedure and allows students to participate in sentencing simulation exercises and debates. Certain categories of offender (e.g. young offenders, women) are considered in depth. Finally, the issue of penal reform, including restorative justice, is addressed in the light of the most recent initiatives in the field.

The course includes:

• an introduction to theories of punishment and their historical roots with an emphasis upon critical discussion of the conceptual positions that underscore the system.

• an introduction to the range of sentencing options available to the courts and an awareness of the considerations that confront sentencers in making sentencing decisions.

• techniques for the presentation of arguments relating to sentencing

• a discussion of the institutional experiences of different categories of offenders in a range of penal institutions

a general discussion of the possibilities for reform of the penal system

Prior learning requirements



Legal Ideology: an overview of leading legal ideologies  LO1, LO2 and LO3

Natural law
Feminist theory
Ethical theory

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and Teaching Strategy

Weekly two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar. 

The lecture will be used for:

• Dissemination of knowledge through an overview of each topic with detailed guidance on appropriate aspects;
• An introduction to relevant academic literature;
• Guidance on learning strategies;
• Use of WebLearn and IT resources;
• Whole group questions and discussion.

The seminar will be used for the development of skills necessary to attain the module learning outcomes through:

• Written and oral questions/answers designed to reinforce fundamental rules, principles and cases;
• A range of step-by-step analytical exercises;
• Problem solving;
• IT tasks, such as research of cases and statutes;
• Legal writing.

Blended Learning

All learning materials, previous examination questions and sample Q/A’s will be on WebLearn for use in directed private study.

Student engagement will be encouraged in both lectures and seminars through weekly use of WebLearn for access to all of the above materials.

There will be required use of the professional legal databases, especially Westlaw and Lexis Library, for legal research.

Opportunities for reflective learning/pdp

Each weekly seminar will contain space for students to reflect on what they have learnt in relation to the overall syllabus. There will be frequent feedback opportunities structured into the timetable and a range of sample answers posted onto WebLearn.

Students’ Study Responsibilities

The need for attendance, punctuality, preparation and engagement will be emphasised with particular reference to written and IT research, problem-solving, team-work, discussion, debate and critical awareness of the subject.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Evaluate the main considerations facing sentencers to simulated sentencing situations and to decide on an appropriate sentence.

2. Demonstrate the ability critically to discuss case study problems relating to the topics covered in the syllabus.

3. Demonstrate their ability to present arguments relevant to critical debates relating to theories of punishment and reform of the penal system through analysis, synthesis and critical judgment.