module specification

SC4055 - The Criminal Justice Framework (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title The Criminal Justice Framework
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Reflective report, 1000 words based on a visit to a magistrates' court
Coursework 50%   Essay,1000 words
Running in 2023/24

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

Module summary

This module introduces you to the framework and functions of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) of England and Wales. It provides a foundation of the aims and roles of the agencies of the CJS which you can build into a more detailed knowledge of issues in criminal justice, criminal justice policy, legislation and social justice outcomes at levels 5 and 6.

The module aims to:

1. Provide a solid grounding of the context of the criminal justice system within the constitution of the United Kingdom.

2. Identify the theoretical models of criminal justice which will help inform an understanding of the social function of criminal justice systems.

3. Review the historical development, structures and roles of key agencies responsible for the execution of criminal justice in England and Wales upon which you will be equipped to build a grasp of issues relating to criminal justice.

4. Identify significant examples of policy and legislative changes and evaluate how these have altered the functions and inter-agency cooperation of key agencies of the CJS and the wider impact some of these changes have had on social justice.

5. Provide an understanding of the potential future career opportunities available in the criminal justice sector.

Prior learning requirements

Available to study abroad?  YES


The module first sets out an outline of the constitutional, political, legislative and administrative framework of the CJS and considers how models of criminal justice might be used to understand its role and social function (LO1, LO2).

The module then sets out to identify the framework and officially defined roles of the five key agencies of the CJS with an exploration of their history and modernisation including concepts of justice, sentencing, punishment and diversion from custody (LO3, LO4, LO5):

● The Criminal Courts
● The Prison Service
● The Police Service
● The Probation Service
● The Youth Justice Service

Within this framework, the module identifies recent developments in the workings of the CJS and considers the impact that policy and legislative changes have had on the agencies’ functions and on their delivery of social justice.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

You will learn through a variety of methods including weekly lecture sessions. Mixed media material is provided in sessions to stimulate focussed discussion and encourage independent research and a wider exploration of the literature. You will also spend independent time in a guided activity which is to observe proceedings and reflect on your experiences in a magistrates’ court of your choice. Blackboard is used to supply information about the module including providing you with some key readings. Discussion time is allocated for you to appraise the lecture topics with other students, as well as discuss your study progress.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Describe the constitutional framework of the CJS.

2. Identify the key theoretical models used within academic work to characterise and justify systems of criminal justice.

3. Describe the historical development, functions and inter-agency cooperation of each of the key agencies of the CJS and develop a grasp of issues in criminal justice.

4. Describe and analyse how some recent and current government policy trends and legislative changes impact justice, crime control, punishment and social control by the state.

5. Understand the career potential of working in one of the agencies of the CJS.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed by two pieces of coursework:

1 – A reflective report of an observation of proceedings in a magistrates’ court (LO1, 2).

2 – A choice of essay questions to demonstrate knowledge of the overarching aims and mechanisms of one of the agencies of the CJS as well as developing knowledge of the relevant policy trends and legislative changes which have impacted the CJS and wider society (LO3, 4, 5).