module specification

SM5051 - Crime and the Media (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Crime and the Media
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Practical Examination 25%   Poster Presentation
Coursework 75%   Essay (3,000 words)
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

This module examines the relationship between the media, crime and criminal justice. It examines the way crime and the law – and our understandings of them – are produced, reproduced and challenged in and through the contemporary media.  The module considers how crime and criminals have been portrayed by the media over time, and assesses the different theoretical perspectives applied to media representations of crime and criminality.  It examines the various ways the media actively work to construct crime as a news story, analysing the way the media sift and select crime stories, prioritizing some and excluding others, editing words and pictures and selecting particular tones and styles in their reports to create particular interpretations and viewpoints. The module also considers media portrayals of crime, criminals, victims and criminal justice agencies in a range of fictional and factual representations across TV, film and popular fiction. The social and cultural impact of these media representations is also discussed, with attention is given to the ways they may contribute to escalating fears of crime and how far they may contribute, themselves, to violence and criminal behaviour. Focusing on cultural, critical, and qualitative understandings of the relationships between crime and the media, the module draws on ideas and theories developed not only in the field of Criminology, but also the disciplines of in Sociology, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies. 


This module aims to:


  1. Examine the relation between media portrayals of crime and their broader social, economic and political context.
  2. Examine historical shifts in the way the media represent crime and criminal behaviour.
  3. Familiarise students with theoretical debates about the media’s effects on crime and criminal behaviour.
  4. Examine the connections between media portrayals of crime and criminal justice policy.

Prior learning requirements

Successful completion of Level 4


  • Crime, ‘Newsworthiness’ and News.
  • From Dixon to CSI – TV Portrayals of Crime and Criminal Justice.
  • The Media, Moral Panics and Crime.
  • Crime, Violence and Media ‘Effects’.
  • Media Representations of Women and Crime.
  • ‘Crimewatching’ – True Crime TV.
  • The Development of the Gangster Film.
  • Crime, Ethnicity and the Media.
  • Media Representations of Children and Crime.
  • Crime, Control and the Surveillance Culture.
  • New Media Technology and Crime – ‘Cybercrime’.

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module will be delivered through a combination of modes of delivery, including formal lectures, seminars, film and television screenings, and individual tutorials. The mixed-mode module delivery will be used to encourage a supportive environment for individual and peer-group learning. 


A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will be used as a platform to support online activities including on-line discussions, evaluation of online resources, and access to electronic reading packs. The VLE will also be used to facilitate formative assessment and related feedback, as well as a tool to integrate useful online learning materials provided by research institutions, academic publications, professional organisations and other relevant sources.

Learning outcomes

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


  1. Describe and comment upon theories regarding media portrayals of crime and their social impact.
  2. Manage their own learning, and make use of scholarly studies related to the analysis of the media’s relationships with crime and criminal justice
  3. Apply the ideas and arguments they have learned to review, consolidate and extend their knowledge in a research project of their own.

Assessment strategy

This module includes two pieces of assessment work:


  1. Poster Presentation – Students will submit a poster presentation dealing with some aspect of media representations of crime. The choice of topic is open, but must be agreed with the seminar tutor beforehand. The treatment of the topic must be critical and analytical and must be informed by theories and debates dealt with during the module.  The poster presentation serves as a basis on which the second piece of assessment can be developed.
  2. Essay  – Students will be given a list of essay questions relating to all the key themes and issues dealt with during the module.  The word count for the assessment is c. 3,000 words.



Core texts

Ditton, J. and Farrall, S. (2016) The Fear of Crime. London: Routledge.

Greer, C. (ed.) (2019) Crime and Media: A Reader, London: Routledge.

Jewkes, Y. (2015) (3rd edn.) Media and Crime, London: Sage.

Woor, M. A. (2017) Antisocial Media: Crime-watching in the Internet Age. Palgrave Macmillan.


Additional texts

Brown, S. (2003) Crime and Law in Media Culture, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Carrabine, E. (2008) Crime, Culture and the Media, Cambridge: Polity.

Chibnall, S. (1977) Law and Order News, London: Tavistock.

Chibnall, S. and Murphy, R. (eds) (1999) British Crime Cinema, London: Routledge.

Clough, J. (2015) Principles of cybercrime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, S. and Young, J. (eds) (1981) The Manufacture of News; Deviance, Social Problems and the Mass Media, London: Constable.

Criminal Justice Matters, Special Issue on Crime and the Media, No. 43, Spring 2001.

Jermyn, D. (2007) Crime Watching: Investigating Real Crime TV, London: I.B. Tauris.

Kidd-Hewitt, D. and Osborne, R. (eds) (1995) Crime and the Media: The Postmodern Spectacle, London; Pluto Press.

Maguire, M., Morgan R]. and Reiner, R. (eds) (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (4th edn.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marsh, I. and Melville, G. (2019) Crime, Justice and the media. 3rd Edition. London: Routledge

Mason, P. (ed.) (2003) Criminal Visions: Media Representations of Crime and Justice, Uffculme: Willan.

Schlesinger, P. and Tumber, H. (1994) Reporting Crime: The Media Politics of Criminal Justice, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sparks, R. (1992) Television and the Drama of Crime: Moral Tales and the Place of Crime in Public Life, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Surette, R. (1998) Media, Crime and Criminal Justice, Belmont: West/Wadsworth.

Key On-line Resources.

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies -

Crime Media Culture: An International Journal -

Home Office - Research Development Statistics -