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Comparative Criminal Justice, Security and Human Rights

This course examines the relationship between human rights, criminal justice and the pursuit of security in a range of different jurisdictions. In addition to policing, and trial and pre-trial processes, the course considers the impact of national security measures in areas such as surveillance and extradition. Students are encouraged to think critically about the application of rights in all of these contexts, and to compare and contrast the approaches taken in different jurisdictions. The option is largely based on case law from jurisdictions including the UK, the US, Israel, South Africa and Germany, as well as judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Students will need to become familiar with reading and analysing cases, but no formal legal training is required.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Core Course I - Criminological Theories

This course develops a contextual understanding of the organizing categories and central claims of a range of modern criminological perspectives of crime and social control. In so doing, it equips students to recognize the principal problems, questions and conceptual dualisms that have shaped modern criminological thought, and to understand the nature of ‘theory’ and ‘explanation’ within criminology. The course addresses a set of key concepts and themes that have figured in criminological theorizing and debate, including the role of urban structure in explaining crime and crime control; the sources of social conformity; the intersection between crime and routine activity; the relationship between crime and inequality; and how to understand social reactions to criminal transgression. The final seminar considers issues of intersectionality and assesses the capacity of modern criminological theory to explain contemporary trends in crime and social control in a global age.

Compulsory for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Core Course II - Criminal Justice

This course provides an exploration of the criminal justice process in England and Wales. The seminar will examine a series of important issues in the criminal justice system and in so doing will encourage students to think critically about the institutions of criminal justice and the State response to offending. This weekly ninety-minute seminar is compulsory for all students. The discussions taking place in class will be invaluable in assisting students with the final examination of the Core course. Students are expected to come prepared to contribute for each seminar and this requires reading the materials in advance.

Compulsory for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Core Course III - Research Design and Data Collection

How can social scientists be sure that the data used in research are valid and reliable? This course is focused on the challenges and the opportunities that different methods of data collection have for validity and reliability of data. Such methods include experiments and quasi-experiments; questionnaires and survey research; field research, and crime/ criminal justice and victimization statistics. The scientific method, theory testing and research design will also be discussed. This option will provide students with a knowledge base from which to choose appropriate ways to collect valid and reliable data given a particular research question. It will also help students assess the weight that can be placed on the findings of published research in the field of criminology. These weekly ninety-minute classes are compulsory for all students. Students are expected to come prepared to contribute to each class.

Compulsory for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Core Course IV - Communication Skills for Criminologists

This course provides an early introduction to the essential skills of hosting and participating in seminars with guest speakers, presenting your own work and writing for a blog.  This seminar series aims to develop students’ communication and networking by giving them the opportunity to organise and host academic and non-academic speakers, and to present their own work to their tutors and peers.

Compulsory for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Crime and the Family

The aim of this course is to explore the relationship between crime and one of the major institutions in society, the family. Through the analysis of empirical research and theoretical debate the course will provide a systematic examination of some of the intersections between the family and crime and punishment. The aim will be to interrogate common-sense understandings of the relationship between crime and the family and to explore just who is affected by crime and how they are affected, whether as primary or secondary victims of crime, or as parents, children, spouses or other kin of offenders.

The relationship between the family and the state and the ways in which the state intervenes into family life take particular shape around the problem of crime. We will explore how the family is constructed in both formal policy responses to crime and informal responses such as stigmatization and shaming. The course will consider the role of the family in criminological theory and in criminal justice policy and aim to unravel some of the complexities, tensions and implications inherent in contemporary constructions of the family and family life in these contexts.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Criminal Justice, Migration and Citizenship

Immigration and its control are highly charged topics in contemporary policy and politics. Over the past two decades they have become subjects of extensive scholarly analysis, primarily in fields such as anthropology, sociology, human geography, refugee studies, and human rights law. It is all the more surprising then, that, with some notable exceptions, criminologists have been relatively slow to pay them much attention.

All states have criminalized at least some aspects of immigration, establishing networks of immigration detention centres and extending their powers to deport. Under these conditions, as those within the burgeoning field of border criminology observe, traditional distinctions between criminal law and immigration law are eroding. Students who take this course will gain an understanding of the shifting nature of criminal justice under conditions of mass mobility. They will also piece together the connections between migration control, race and gender, and will explore the methodological implications and challenges of this emerging field of research.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Death Penalty

Professor Carolyn Hoyle

This course aims to provide students with a good understanding of the scope and practice of capital punishment and the movement - backed by international organizations and human rights treaties - to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Students will learn about the extent to which defendants in capital cases are protected by due process and have access to qualified defence counsel, and where they lack protection from police abuse, unfair trials, and painful forms of execution. They will explore what happens when the due process safeguards fail and innocent people are convicted and sentenced to death. Further, they will consider whether capital punishment can ever be administered equitably, without discrimination on grounds of race, geography, gender or other non-legal variables. Throughout this course students will draw on recent and controversial cases and decisions, as well as the social scientific literature.

Schedule of Seminars

  1. Abolition and Retention: a brief tour of the world

  2. Capital punishment in law and practice

  3. Procedural Protections for the Accused

  4. Protecting Vulnerable Defendants

  5. Inequity and Arbitrariness in the Administration of Capital Punishment

  6. Convicting and Sentencing the Innocent

  7. Alternatives to death: is life imprisonment better than death row?

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Politics of Crime Control

This option is an opportunity to make sense of the important shifts in the ordering of contemporary societies. Its aim is to encourage students to think politically about crime and its regulation, by examining the intersections between political ideologies, key concepts and traditions in political thought, and current developments in crime control. The course will examine the ways in which political debates over crime control are inescapably entangled with wider ideological contests between different political traditions and their competing conceptions of the good society (e.g. conservatism, liberalism, social democracy, populism, feminism), and with struggles over the meaning and significance of some core ideas in political thought (e.g. order, authority, legitimacy, justice, freedom, rights). Examining trajectories of crime control and penal policy in these ideological terms will enable consideration of the range of issues that are in play, and at stake, in debates about the criminal question. The course, in this sense, rests upon and explores the claim that the question of how to respond to crime is always, in part, a contest of competing political ideas and the contours of the good society. 

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Prisons

The prison is one of the most fundamental and yet controversial element of any nation’s criminal justice system.  Despite academic and first-hand evidence pointing to a generalised failure of incarceration to stem crime or to reform criminals, for example, imprisonment continues to be viewed as the appropriate and necessary response to a wide range of illegal activity.  More puzzling still, despite its economic and social costs, critical questions about the legitimacy of imprisonment are rarely posed.

By examining aspects of life behind bars as well as some of the justifications of imprisonment, this course will explore the complex role played by the prison in contemporary society.  Students will develop a critical understanding of the origins of the prison, of its daily practice and of how the growing recognition of prisoners’ rights in national and international law has effected prison conditions and staff-prisoner relationships.  Particular attention will be paid to the experience of women and ethnic minorities behind bars.  Topics that will be considered will range from staffing to education as well as from how institutions deal with prisoners’ children to how they maintain order.

 

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Qualitative Methods

This course introduces students to different methods of qualitative inquiry, data gathering, analysis and reporting.  We will consider when the use of qualitative methods are appropriate and also question the assumed polarity between qualitative and quantitative approaches. Special emphasis will be given throughout the course to ethical issues and cross-cultural and comparative research practices.  Students will study examples of research techniques and carry out applied practice themselves.  Interviews and more contemporary forms of data capture such as visual methodologies and the internet will also be covered in the course and students will have the opportunity to analyse data using NVivo (a qualitative computerized data analysis programme).

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Quantitative Analysis for Social Sciences

This course is designed for students who want to learn quantitative analysis techniques for use in criminological contexts. Students will learn both basic statistical concepts and how to use SPSS, a statistical package widely used in the social sciences. The course will be taught using a version of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) dataset. By the end of the course, students will be able to understand and critically assess papers containing quantitative data, use appropriate statistical methods, and present their analyses effectively in their dissertations.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Race and Gender

The aim of this course is to explore how race and gender impact on criminological theory and understand how people’s experiences within the criminal justice process varies, depending on their ethnicity and/or gender. A focus of the course will be to analyse the operation of racism at various stages of the criminal justice process. Through adopting an intersectional lens the course will consider the ways in which race, gender, generation and class work together to shape people’s experiences of the crime and the criminal justice system. In this option, students will examine the victimisation and offending experiences of minority ethnic groups and the criminological theories, which aim to explain the different patterns and outcomes for people according to their ethnicity and gender. Police practices, sentencing, and imprisonment are key topics covered in the course. In addition to examining processes of racism, disproportionality and discretion in the sphere of crime and criminal justice, the course also explores contemporary issues such as the impact of counter-terrorism policies and consequences on notions of citizenship and belonging for minority groups. This option will largely draw on UK and US scholarship to explore these debates.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Risk, Security and Criminal Justice

The rise of risk management and the pursuit of security are key features of contemporary crime control. This course analyses the ways in which risk is conceptualised, measured and managed in the pursuit of security and public protection. In particular, it examines how risk and security are transforming criminal justice policy and practice by examining domains such as policing, crime prevention, preventive detention, and counter-terrorism. We will explore the benefits, as well as the burdens, of these developments and examine their implications for civil liberties and for justice.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Sentencing

This option will be offered in both Michaelmas and Hilary terms.

The aim of this option is to explore some of the legal, theoretical and empirical issues of sentencing, largely by reference to England and Wales but also other common law jurisdictions. As well as analysing the sentencing framework and the definitive sentencing guidelines, the seminar also discusses the use of imprisonment, arguments about previous convictions and sentencing, and the justifications for allowing certain factors to mitigate or aggravate sentence.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Sociology of Mafias

Please note this course is offered by the Department of Sociology so the assessment will vary slightly from those offered by the Centre for Criminology.

The course analyses five criminal organizations that have emerged in different times and contexts: the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the American Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Hong Kong Triads and the Japanese Yakuza. We explore the extent to which these cases, notwithstanding their differences, share crucial characteristics and features.

The course begins by defining State, Mafia group, Mafia and organized crime, and distinguishes the Mafia from superficially related phenomena, such as corruption and patronage. The course examines parallels between state behaviour in early modern Europe and Mafia behaviour, the emergence of Mafias as well as what Mafias do in both legal and illegal markets. The second part of the course focuses on how Mafias perform their roles. We study the resources, the organization, the role of women and the norms of these organizations.

Finally, the course explores factors that facilitate the expansion and the decline of Mafias and whether Mafias are emerging in non-traditional areas. The course is multidisciplinary and draws on concepts from political theory, industrial economics, and political economy, as well as on the history and sociology of different countries, such as Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Theorising Punishment

This course examines key texts on punishment, each of which takes a different approach the role, nature and effect of punishment.  Students who take full advantage of the opportunity offered by the course to read an entire text each week should emerge with a deep understanding of some classic works and a good grasp of selected central figures in debates about punishment; an understanding of the ways in which these texts inform and inspire subsequent theorizing about punishment; and an appreciation for the nature and uses of social theory in general.   Most weeks, students will be expected to read whole books and come to class ready to discuss them in detail.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Transitional Justice

How do societies torn apart by mass atrocity and gross human rights violations seek to recover from such immense harm? Transitional Justice has developed to answer this challenging question, and in doing so aims to satisfy demands for both restorative and retributive justice.  Around the world, past decades have witnesses the establishment of a variety of mechanisms including, the International Criminal ad hoc Tribunals, local legal procedures, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and (symbolic) reparations, as well as an International Criminal Court. These not only contribute to justice aims, but also attempt to foster a democratic transition to a fully functioning stable society, and can lead to reconciliation and peace in the countries concerned. Nevertheless, transitional justice remains a contested field in both theory and practice. This course will critically examine the empirical and theoretical foundations of transitional justice and its practical effects. It will adopt an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on law, criminology, sociology and socio-legal studies. After laying the conceptual foundations, we will critically analyse transitional justice modalities, processes and their impact in various countries including South Africa, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Northern Ireland.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to understand the historical and theoretical foundations of Transitional Justice theory and practice. Moreover, they will be able to critically assess Transitional Justice mechanisms, modalities and their impact in a wide range of post-conflict societies.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Victims and Restorative Justice

Prof Carolyn Hoyle

This course will examine the development of victimology and, in particular, the developing role of victims within the criminal process, in the UK and in other jurisdictions. In doing so, it will encourage students to think beyond the rather narrow definition of 'victims' under consideration in the development of victim policy to look at how society responds to victims of atypical crimes and offenders who are, in many respects, victims. One of the main responses to the needs of victims has been restorative justice - a term of unsettled meaning, but seen as encompassing a diverse and developing set of values, processes and aims which share an orientation towards repairing the harm caused by crime and giving a voice to victims. The most well-known restorative processes involve victims and offenders coming face-to-face to discuss the offence, the harm it caused, and how this might be put right. This course considers the role of victims, offenders and communities, integrating theoretical and empirical knowledge and sociological critiques of different restorative approaches. It also tackles such difficult philosophical questions as whether restorative justice can operate satisfactorily when power imbalances between offenders and victims are great, as in cases of domestic or sexual violence or crimes against humanity.

Schedule of Seminars

  1. Identifying the victim
  2. Victims of miscarriages of justice
  3. Experience of victims and offenders with learning disabilities
  4. The participation of victims in the criminal process
  5. Restorative Justice: from philosophy to practice
  6. Victims in post-conflict justice
  7. New challenges for Restorative Justice
  8. A Debate: Can Restorative Justice satisfy victims’ needs and expectations?

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Violence and Civilisation

Dr Jonny Steinberg

The aim of the course is to explore how a major argument in European criminology travels to Africa. In his celebrated book, The Civilizing Process, the German sociologist Nobert Elias argues that contemporary Western societies are less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than at any other time in their history. As a result of the formation of large states, he argues, shame, repugnance and self-inhibition have come to shape human relationships in the West, turning what had always been endemically violent societies into largely peaceable ones.

Sub-Saharan Africa has not experienced state formation on the scale that Europe has. Does this mean that African societies are more prone to violence than Europe is? Or, alternatively, that civilising processes not imagined by Elias are at work? The course thus examines the foundations of violence and peace both in the West and in Africa, in course of asking how well theory travels from one historical context to another. Case studies will include examination of policing in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; inner-city violence in North America; Liberia’s civil war; and urban violence in twentieth-century South Africa.

The seminar topics are:

1. State Formation and the Civilising Process

2. Modern States and Violence

3. Hurricane Katrina and the Civilising Process in New Orleans

4. Violence and Civilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa

5. Urban Violence in Twentieth-Century South Africa (I)

6. The Rwandan Genocide

7. The Liberian Civil War                                                       

8. Urban Violence in Twentieth-Century South Africa (II)

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time)

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Youth Justice

The aim of this course is to provide students with a critical and advanced understanding of youth justice. The competing aims, principles, and strategies underpinning responses to offending behaviour in young people will be explored and the diverse ways in which these have influenced contemporary youth justice in the UK will be examined. In particular, the course will investigate the relationship between theory, research and policy in the shaping of youth justice policy and practice.

The course will highlight the key shifts in state responses that centre on issues of justice, welfare, prevention, risk and related policy. The course will draw closely on a wide range of data from current research in youth justice.Throughout, attention is given to the importance of understanding the connections of youth crime with race, class and gender. This course will provide an opportunity to engage with the most up-to-date debates in an area of great interest in contemporary society.

Optional for these programmes: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Full Time), Part time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice