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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAW3057 Module Title: CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAW3057
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: JAGO R Mr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Both semesters
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment

Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)





Qualifying Condition(s) 

Overall Mark of 40%

Module Overview

This module considers the operation of the criminal justice system. The module first invites students to consider what the criminal justice ‘system’ is, and what its goals and values should be. Students will assess the reliability of the official statistics which influence criminal justice policy, and consider the effect of the media and the role of public opinion. The module then moves on to examine police powers, and the way in which they are exercised, before considering the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service, the role played by legal professionals within the system, and the impact of plea bargaining on the delivery of criminal justice.

 The module considers how sentencing features within the criminal justice system and what the current debates are concerning discrimination within that sentencing process. An examination of the growing participation of the victim in the criminal justice system is considered. Students then move on to consider current debates in penal policy. Is there a penal crisis? How are dangerous offenders and early release used as tools for expansionism and reductionism and should we abolish the prison altogether? Students then consider prisoner rights and prison privatisation and finally future prospects for the criminal justice system are considered.

Module Aims

Students address such questions as:

·         What should the goals of a criminal justice system be?

·         How do official statistics shape government policy? Are they reliable?

·         What role is played by the media and public opinion?

·         What are the powers given to the police, and how do they exercise them?

·         Does the Crown Prosecution Service meet the needs of the criminal justice system?

·         Do lawyers adequately protect suspects’ / defendants’ rights?

·         What role is played by plea bargaining, and what are its effects?

·         What are the purposes of sentencing?

·         What is the current sentencing framework?

·         What evidence is there of discrimination in sentencing?

·         How are victims involved in the sentencing process?

·         Is there a penal crisis?

·         How is current penal policy demonstrating evidence of expansionism and reductionism?

·         What is the current value of the abolitionist project?

·         Should prisoners have rights?

·         How does prison privatisation concur with the managerialist agenda?

  • What are the future prospects for the criminal justice system?
Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module, students are able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

At the end of the course students should:

·         Be able to discuss and analyse the socio-legal concepts of crime and punishment

·         Have a good understanding of the nature and extent of crime

·         Be able to critically evaluate the aims and values of the criminal justice process

·         Be able to assess the historical background to contemporary penal policy, examine the political foundations of such policy and to appraise the popular and media discussion of that policy

·         Be able to distinguish and analyse the roles of agencies in dealing with crime


At the end of the course students should have furthered their command of the following skills so you have the ability to:

·         carry out research on a socio-legal topic and use a variety of electronic and paper sources

·         evaluate the methodological and ideological credence of those sources

·         critically evaluate law, policy and procedure

·         appraise the impact of new law on the working practice of practitioners

·         construct a principled argument and to critically evaluate the arguments of others

·         develop independence in thought and argument and the confidence to question their own views

·         review the interface between different areas of criminal justice policy and procedure

Module Content

Semester 1

  • The aims and values of the Criminal Justice system
  • Due process vs. crime control
  • The use of official statistics
  • The role of the media / public opinion
  • Police powers on the street and at the police station
  • The CPS and prosecutions
  • Pre-trial procedure: the role of lawyers and plea bargaining

Semester 2

·         What are the purposes of sentencing?

·         What is the current sentencing framework?

·         What evidence is there of discrimination in sentencing?

·         How are victims involved in the sentencing process?

·         Is there a penal crisis?

·         Expansionism and reductionism in current penal policy

·         The abolitionist project and community penalties as an alternative?

·         Prisoner Rights

·         Prison Privatisation and the managerialist agenda

  • Future prospects for the criminal justice system?
Methods of Teaching/Learning
Weekly 2 hour seminars
Selected Texts/Journals

Selected Texts/Journals

Belloni, F. and Hodgson, J. (2000) Criminal Injustice: An evaluation of the criminal justice process in (Macmillan: Basingstoke )

Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (OUP: Oxford ),

Cavadino, M. & Dignan, J. (2007) The Penal System (Sage, London ).

Zedner, L. (2004) Criminal Justice (Oxford, London )







Last Updated

Date Last Revised:  January 2009