MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (full-time) Options
These are the options available for the full-time MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice
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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.
Prof Rachel Condry
This compulsory course taught in Michaelmas Term seeks to develop understanding of the organizing categories and central claims of a range of modern criminological perspectives of crime and social control. It equips students to recognize the main problems, questions, dichotomies and ideas that have shaped modern criminological thought, and to understand the nature of 'theory' and 'explanation' within criminology. Throughout attention is paid to the contexts that shape the emergence and reception of modern criminological theory and to the modes of social intervention that different criminological perspectives expressly or implicitly propose.
Dr Katrin Mueller-Johnson
This compulsory course taught in Hilary term aims to explore a limited number of key issues in criminal justice. The seminars address critical issues confronting the criminal justice systems of most western nations. Seminars generally begin with a brief presentation on the subject and then open up for general discussion of key questions that are provided in this course outline. The focus is on criminal justice in England and Wales, but the readings also encompass issues and findings from other jurisdictions.
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.
Prof Carolyn Hoyle
This course runs through weeks 1-6 of Trinity term but organisation will start in Hilary Term when we will meet to assign students their roles so that planning can begin in good time. At this meeting, five students will have the opportunity to volunteer to host the seminars. These students will be expected to consult with the MSc cohort for ideas on topics or themes to be covered in the seminars and possible speakers, so that the seminar series reflects the interests of the wider group. Once the speakers have been approved by the Convenor, the hosts will invite the speakers and liaise with them in advance of the TT seminars, and then host the seminars (all under the guidance of the Convenor).
During the seminars in Trinity Term, 3 students will act as respondents at the end of the presentation, giving brief (5 minute) responses to the paper, before opening the floor to questions, and one further student will write a short piece on the presentation for the Centre blog. By the end of the 5 weeks all of the MSc cohort should have had the chance to take on one of these ‘communication’ roles.
During Week 6, the cohort will work together to organise a two-day conference at which each MSc student will make a short presentation on their dissertation topic (work in progress), and other students will be expected to ask questions and make helpful comments. The presenters will also receive feedback on their communication and presentation skills from the convenor.
Prof Rachel Condry
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.
This course adopts a comparative and normative approach to human rights, criminal justice and security. It covers the development of human rights principles in relation to the criminal justice system and security more broadly (with a particular reference to counter-terrorism), in a range of relevant jurisdictions (inter alia: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Kenya, India, Israel, UK, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Union, and the Inter-American Court). After beginning with a general look at the themes of national security, rights balancing and exceptionalism theory, the course examines a number of discrete topics in terms of the theoretical underpinnings of the particular right, the reasoning adopted by the courts, and the implications for criminal justice and security policy.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of human rights issues in the context of the criminal justice system and the pursuit of national security. This option is not available in 2023-24
Prof Carolyn Hoyle
This course provides 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 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.
Prof Ian Loader
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.
Prof Mary Bosworth
The prison is one of the most fundamental parts of the criminal justice system. Despite extensive 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 often brushed aside.
By examining aspects of life behind bars as well as some of the justifications of imprisonment, this course will seek to understand 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, conditions and staff-prisoner relationships. Particular attention will be paid to the experiences of women and ethnic minorities behind bars.
Prof Ian Loader
Effective, accountable and legitimate police institutions are a key ingredient of citizen security and good government. Yet the public police are not the only providers of policing. Security today is the responsibility of a range of policing bodies – in the private sector and across civil society. Nor are policing institutions – or the crime problems they tackle - confined within the borders of single nation-states. The aim of this course is to introduce students to key institutions, processes and challenges involved in creating effective and legitimate policing. The course addresses a series of core questions concerning the role of the police, use and control of police powers, police relations with other security providers, governance and oversight mechanisms, and citizen engagement. It also enables students to engage in finding better ways of addressing some of today’s most urgent policing problems, such as the regulation of cyber-crime. Students will be introduced to the dynamics and complexities of contemporary policing and be equipped with the conceptual and analytic tools for understanding security governance.
Prof Mary Bosworth and Dr Estelle Zinsstag
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).
Dr Katrin Mueller-Johnson
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.
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.
Prof Lucia Zedner
Risk assessment, risk management and security are core features of contemporary criminal justice. The importance given to protecting the public by preventing harm informs law reform, public policy and criminal justice. This course analyses the ways in which risk and security are transforming criminal justice thinking and practices. To do so, it examines developments in policing, crime prevention, risk assessment and management, preventive detention, counter-terrorism and security policies. It explores the burdens and benefits of these developments and examines their implications for individual liberties and for justice.
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.
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.
Profs Mary Bosworth, Ian Loader and Lucia Zedner
This course examines key texts on punishment, each of which takes a different approach to 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 significant works and a good grasp of their contribution to 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 a whole book and come to class ready to discuss it in detail.
Dr Julia Viebach
The aim of this course is to critically examine the empirical and theoretical foundations of Transitional Justice in Africa, as well as its practical effects. Transitional Justice has become a dominant script for societies dealing with the legacies of violent conflict and dictatorship. It prescribes a range of mechanisms, including truth commissions, reparations, vetting or (international) courts. Transitional Justice, as a field of study and collection of practices, is contested in Africa and beyond. The course will adopt an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on law, anthropology, sociology, and socio-legal studies to unravel some of the complexities, tensions and implications for African transition contexts. After exploring the conceptual foundations, we will critically analyse Transitional Justice modalities and processes, assessing their impact in African societies: what Transitional Justice mechanisms have been adopted across Africa? What are the contemporary debates surrounding their use in the case studies we examine? What can we learn from these African experiences? The course encourages students to engage with the topic through interactive teaching methods, such as role-plays and debates.
Prof Carolyn Hoyle and Dr Estelle Zinsstag
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 and consider how helpful the label ‘victim’ is. In going beyond the typical, the course will rely not only on the disciplines of criminology, criminal justice and victimology, but also engage with politics and social policy. Students will be expected to study empirical, theoretical and policy work in these areas.
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
- Identifying the victim
- Victims of miscarriages of justice
- Experience of victims and offenders with learning disabilities
- The participation of victims in the criminal process
- Restorative Justice: from philosophy to practice
- Victims in post-conflict justice
- New challenges for Restorative Justice
- A Debate: Can Restorative Justice satisfy victims’ needs and expectations?
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)
Prof Rachel Condry and Dr Estelle Zinsstag
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.