module specification

SC6000 - Crime Control and Penology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Crime Control and Penology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Critical review of professional research article (2000 words)
Coursework 35%   Essay (2000 words)
Seen Examination 35%   Seen examination, 2.5 hours
Seminar 10%   90% seminar attendance & participation (via group discussion, reading and presentations)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

The first part of this module examines historical and contemporary approaches to crime control and the way in which the latter is manifest in policy and practice. The module considers and assesses the rhetoric, strategies, practices and evaluation of key criminal justice agencies in relation to both serious and less serious crime and national and international crime control issues.

The second part of the module concentrates on penal policy and practice, exploring issues regarding the imprisonment of convicted offenders and the way in which this relates to theoretical criminological concepts. Through comparative penology, the role of imprisonment and impact of penal policy within the context of wider society are explored and examined. Issues such as diversity, gender, ‘race’ and mental disorder in relation to prisoner experiences area highlighted.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  1. Identify and explore key concepts underpinning crime control
  2. Examine contemporary policies and practices of principal crime control agencies
  3. Enable students to understand the linkages between contemporary crime control and wider social policy (and accompanying political debate)
  4. Enhance analytic skills and instil a critical awareness through consideration of both official rhetoric and evidence together with the limitations of crime control policies and practice in a 'real world' context
  5. Explore the application of criminological theories and concepts to penal policy and practice and encourage confidence in the use of varied learning and discursive strategies
  6. Develop understanding of the operation of prisons and the role of imprisonment within the criminal justice system and wider society
  7. Explore comparative penal perspectives and develop understanding of diversity within penal policy and practice.


The syllabus will critically consider major historical and contemporary issues in crime control and penology. Key legislation, policies and practices of primary criminal justice agencies will be examined, encouraging debate regarding criminal justice dilemmas such as competing aims, recourses and needs, containment, public protection and the importance of rehabilitation. Analysis of the purpose and potential impact of crime control and imprisonment strategies and practices (including issues regarding diversity and experiences of discrimination, both direct and indirect) will be evaluated by drawing on research evidence. This will include research evidence and statistics from a wide variety of sources such as academic research, Home Office statistics and reports from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.

The first half of the syllabus will focus on examining localised crime control issues such as: community safety, crime prevention, police role and strategies. In addition, the development and implications of politics and the culture of contemporary crime control will be considered.

The second half of the syllabus will focus on critical consideration of issues in penal policy and practice and the role of imprisonment in the criminal justice system and wider society. The needs of specific minority and vulnerable groups of offenders (including women, young people, ethnic minority and mentally disordered offenders) will be considered. Comparative penal perspectives will be explored by considering a number of international perspectives, including the American model.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is delivered through lectures and seminars, also presentations from guest speakers.  Lectures provide key references for students’ further online and library based independent study.  Seminars are constructed in relation to indicative reading and/or video material and provide students with an opportunity to seek clarification on information covered in the lectures.  Seminars and workshops provide a forum for students to engage with their peers in discussion.  Opportunities are also provided for students to engage with guest speakers in relation to practitioner experience in relevant fields.

The module requires approximately 7 hours per week of independent reading/study. 

Student support is provided in class, via email and through discussion boards.  Blackboard is used to provide information and teaching/learning materials to support the learning process.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify the aims and functions of primary crime control agencies and the principles and practice of contemporary crime control, including imprisonment
  2. Engage critically and effectively with appropriate information and assess current research relating to crime control and penology
  3. Critically assess the limitations and consequences of crime control and penal policies and practices
  4. Critically analyse current crime control and penal policy and practice and the role of crime control and imprisonment within the criminal justice system and wider society
  5. Critically evaluate how issues of diversity impact upon penal policy and practice and evaluate comparative penal perspectives
  6. Manage their own learning by specifying their own academic terrain and exploring a key issue
  7. Identify, summarise, critique and coherently present key debates and arguments across a range of issues pertaining to crime control and penology, in writing under exam conditions.

Assessment strategy

There are four units of assessment:

  1. Critical Review of a professional research article (2000 words) - (20%)
  2. Essay (2500 words) – (35%)
  3. 2hr Seen examination – (35%)
  4. Attendance and Participation – (10%)


Box, S. (1989) Power, Crime and Mystification. London: Routledge

Cavadino, M., Dignan, J. & Mair, G. (2013) The Penal System: an introduction (5th Ed). London: Sage.

Davies, M., Croall, H. & Tyrer, J.  (2015) Criminal Justice (5th Ed). New York: Pearson

Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison. New York: Vintage.

Garland, D. (2001), The Culture of Control: crime and social order in contemporary society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Maguire, M., Morgan, R. & Reiner, R. (eds.) (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (5th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pratt, J., Brown, D., Brown, M., Hallsworth, S., and Morrison, W. (2005) The New Punitiveness: Trends, Theories, Perspectives.  Cullompton: Willan Publishing 

Scott, D. (2013) Why Prison? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Simon, J. and Sparks, R. (Eds) (2013) The Sage Handbook on Punishment and Society. London: Sage

Wacquant, L. (2009) Punishing the Poor : the neoliberal government of social insecurity. Durham, N.C. ; London : Duke University Press.


British Journal of Criminology Criminal Justice Matters Prison Service Journal
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Criminal Law Review Probation Journal
Criminal Justice Deviant Behaviour