Policing, Punishment and Society

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
25 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA M900 Criminology,
BA M901 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA M903 Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA M904 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCM999 Criminology,
MSOCMA98 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCMA99 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA MT26 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study),
BA MT27 Criminology and American Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA MT28 Criminology and American Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA MT2R Criminology and American Studies,
BA MT3R Criminology and American Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA MT62 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study) (Including Placement Year),
BA LM11 Criminology with Criminal Law,
BA LM12 Criminology with Criminal Law (Including Year Abroad),
BA LM13 Criminology with Criminal Law (Including Placement Year),
LLB MM00 Law with Criminology,
LLB MM01 Law with Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MM02 Law with Criminology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

Whilst policing and punishment have been features of human societies for millennia, it is only comparatively recently that these functions have been carried out by a formal 'police force' and recognizable (largely) state-operated prison service. This module explores both the activities of policing and punishment in general and the formal agencies on which these tasks are bestowed.

In doing so it situates the problems of policing and punishment in philosophical, social and contemporary contexts. Questions of how societies are policed and offenders are punished lie at the heart of historical inquiry, moral philosophy, social theory and political practice. This course will introduce students to the controversies and dilemmas that surround policing and punishment as criminal justice institutions. It will show how these institutions interact with strategies of power, socio-economic structures and cultural sensibilities as well as examining the problems faced daily in contemporary penal systems. Moreover, it will explore the extension of policing and punishment beyond the formal criminal justice system by examining the operation of extra-judicial control in society.

Module aims

The principal aim of this course is to introduce students to the key understandings of, and controversies surrounding, policing and punishment as social phenomena. The course draws together material from across criminology, history, law, philosophy and sociology to emphasise the complexities of policing and penal institutions. By the end of the course students should:

a) Be familiar with and be able to critically assess a variety of perspectives on policing and punishment. These include the historical origins and development of policing and punishment as social practices; philosophical justifications and disputes over the morality and legitimacy of policing and punishment; sociological perspectives on the role of political forces structuring the cultural foundations of policing and punishment; as well as criminological challenges to contemporary justice policies.

b) Have a thorough understanding of the emergence of contemporary policing and punishment systems, processes and institutions and the problems they currently confront.

c) Be critically aware of how the ideals of justice and realities of injustice continue to inform crime control.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will have:

1. Advanced knowledge of core debates and controversies relating to policing and punishment

2. Awareness of the ethical and political dimensions concerning the delivery of policing and punishment

3. Understanding the latest theoretical developments relating to policing and punishment

4. Understanding the complex governance of policing and punishment

5. Advanced knowledge of the intersections and disparities between different elements of the formal justice system

6. Critical awareness of the ways formal and informal justice practices interrelate with issues of disadvantage and discrimination

7. Locate analyses of policing and punishment within broader criminological and sociological debates.

8. Understand the relationship between theory and empirical research in this area

9. Source, evaluate and critique relevant academic literature

10. Interpret and evaluate empirical evidence used in the study of policing and punishment

Module information

The assessment for this module is currently showing for 19-20. The assessment for the 20-21 academic year, the assessment will be updated in September 2020.

Learning and teaching methods

1 hour lecture and 1 hour class


  • Scraton, Phil. (2013-10) 'The legacy of Hillsborough: liberating truth, challenging power', in Race & Class. vol. 55 (2) , pp.1-27
  • R. Duff; D. Garland. (1994) 'Introduction: Thinking about Punishment', in A Reader on punishment, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Oxford readings in socio-legal studies
  • Carrabine, Eamonn. (2005) 'Prison Riots, Social Order and the Problem of Legitimacy', in The British Journal of Criminology. vol. 45 (6) , pp.896-913
  • Banks, Cyndi. (c2013) Criminal justice ethics: theory and practice, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
  • Kathleen McDermott and Roy D. King. (no date) 'Mind Games: Where the Action is In Prisons', in The British Journal of Criminology: Oxford University Press.
  • Brayne, Sarah. (1936-) 'Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing', in American Sociological Review. vol. 82 (5) , pp.977-1008
  • D. Haggerty, Richard V. Ericson, Kevin. (2000-12-1) 'The surveillant assemblage', in British Journal of Sociology. vol. 51 (4) , pp.605-622
  • Mona Lynch. (2001) 'From the Punitive City to the Gated Community: Security and Segregation across the Social and Penal Landscape', in University of Miami Law Review. vol. 56 (1) , pp.89-112
  • David Garland. (no date) 'Sociological Perspectives on Punishment', in Crime and Justice: The University of Chicago Press.
  • (2017) The Oxford handbook of criminology, ©2017: Oxford University Press.
  • Ben Bowling; Shruti Iyer; Robert Reiner; James Sheptycki. (2016) 'Policing, Past, Present and Future', in What is to be done about crime and punishment?: towards a 'public criminology', London: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.77-95
  • L. Wacquant. (2000) 'The New `Peculiar Institution':: On the Prison as Surrogate Ghetto', in Theoretical Criminology. vol. 4 (3) , pp.377-389
  • Mike Davis. (2011) 'Fortress Los Angeles: The Militarization of Urban Space', in Cultural criminology: theories of crime, Farnham: Ashgate., pp.314-341
  • Cavadin, M.; Dignan, J.; Mair, G. (2013) 'Explaining Punishment', in The penal system: an introduction, London: SAGE.
  • Hoyle, C. (2000-1-1) 'Police Response to Domestic Violence', in British Journal of Criminology. vol. 40 (1) , pp.14-36
  • Woodiwiss, M.; Hobbs, D. (2009-01-01) 'Organized Evil and the Atlantic Alliance: Moral Panics and the Rhetoric of Organized Crime Policing in America and Britain', in British Journal of Criminology. vol. 49 (1) , pp.106-128
  • Lynch, Caitlin G. (2018-01-02) 'Don't let them kill you on some dirty roadway: survival, entitled violence, and the culture of modern American policing', in Contemporary Justice Review. vol. 21 (1) , pp.33-43
  • Bowling, Benjamin. (1960-) 'The rise and fall of New York murder: zero tolerance or crack's decline?', in British journal of criminology. vol. 39 (4) , pp.531-554

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1     50% 
Coursework   Essay 2     50% 
Exam  180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou, email:
Prof Nigel South, email:
Professor Nigel South, Professor Eamonn Carrabine, Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou
Jane Harper, Undergraduate Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood
Goldsmiths, University of London
Senior Lecturer in Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 130 hours, 127 (97.7%) hours available to students:
3 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.