module specification

SC4001 - Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Report on observation of Magistrates' Court procedure, 1000 words
Coursework 40%   Essay, 2,000 words
Unseen Examination 40%   Unseen examination, 1.5 hours
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module introduces students to the scope and functions of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in England and Wales.  It provides a broad overview of the mechanisms and aims of the CJS upon which students can build a more detailed knowledge of criminal justice policies, crime control, punishment and social control by the state, at levels 5 and 6. The module also specifically provides students with an introductory picture of the extent of officially recorded crime.

The module aims to:
1. Provide students with a solid grounding in the field upon which to build a grasp of issues relating to criminal justice
2. Review the historical development, structures and roles of key agencies responsible for the execution of justice in England and Wales
3. Identify key models of the Criminal Justice System such as the due process and crime control models
4. Consider recent, and significant, examples of changes in the CJS (such as the increasing levels of inter-agency cooperation)
5. Develop students’ knowledge of current policies relating to the ‘problem of crime’.


The first part of the module introduces the models of the CJS considers how these might be used to understand its role and functions. LO1

The module then set out an outline of the journey of the offender through the system from the commission of a crime to sentencing, drawing on case studies.  LO2

The second part of the module identifies the structure and officially defined roles of the key agencies of criminal justice, focussing upon: LO3

• Concepts of justice and sentencing
• Diversion from custody
• Magistrates’ courts
• Crown Courts
• Prisons
• Victims
• Police history and modernisation
• Probation history and modernisation
• ‘Bias’ in the Criminal Justice ‘System’.

The final part of the module charts some recent developments in the workings of the CJS and considers the consequences of key legislation and policy in recent years.  It also considers recent and current (officially recorded) crime trends. LO4,LO5

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students learn through a variety of methods including weekly lecture workshops. Video material is provided on a range of sessions to stimulate focussed discussion. Students also spend time in guided activity including an observation of magistrates’ court functions. Blackboard is used to supply information about the module including providing students with some key readings. Seminar time is allocated for students to discuss their progress with each other and the module includes an oral report on the court observation following which students are encouraged to reflect upon the process and to compare and critically evaluate their experiences.

Students are expected to spend approximately 6 hours per week in independent study and writing.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Describe the history, developments and functions of the key agencies within the CJS
2. Identify the key theoretical models used within academic work to characterise and justify the CJS
3. Describe recent key changes in the CJS that affect the way in which criminal justice agencies carry out their roles
4. Describe and analyse some recent and current crime trends, as recorded officially by government agencies
5. Recall and synthesise knowledge and reproduce relevant data on specified topics related to the CJS in a confined time and without access to resources.


Core Text
Davies M, Croall H and Tyrer J (2015) Criminal Justice fifth edition, Harlow: Pearson Longman.

Additional reading
Maguire, M., Morgan, R., Reiner, R. (eds.) (2012) Oxford Handbook of Criminology Fifth Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Muncie, J.  (2015) ‘Youth and Crime’ (third edition), London: Sage

Newburn, T. (2017) Criminology third edition, London: Routledge

British Journal of Criminology
Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice Matters
Criminal Law Review
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Probation Journal