Policing, Punishment and Society

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
14 September 2023


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),
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),
LLB MM03 Law with Criminology (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module is delivered across the full year with the focus shifting between the Autumn and Spring terms. The Autumn term examines institutional and non-institutional forms of punishment, surveillance and control. The Spring term focuses on the police and broader issues of policing. Particularly important here is the situation of the police as the gatekeepers to the criminal justice system but also the way that changes to policing reflect wider social changes.

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:

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.

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

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 of policing and punishment

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

4. Understanding the complex governance of policing and punishment

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

6. Ability to locate analyses of policing and punishment within broader criminological and sociological debates.

7. Understanding of the relationship between theory and empirical research in this area

8. Confidence in sourcing, evaluating and critiquing relevant academic and policy literature

9. Skills of interpretation and evaluation of empirical evidence used in the study of policing and punishment

Module information

Please click on the link below to view the Introduction video to SC205 Policing, Punishment and Society

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching approach As there are still restrictions related to COVID-19 in place, some of the teaching on most modules will take place online. Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. For the majority of modules the lecture-type content will be delivered online – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your class each week. Most classes labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this). SC205 will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These include: watching and listening to provided content; attending and participating in classes; completing two essays. The lecture-type videos provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. It is ESSENTIAL that you attend the seminars as important information about the course will be relayed to you by your course tutor there. If you do not get this information, you may not be well prepared for assessments. The classes will be recorded and available for you to watch or listen again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that classes may be divided into small break-out groups on Zoom and these will not be routinely recorded. In addition to your timetabled hours for this module, you should aim to spend up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or essays, etc.).


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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   Critical Essay 1    50% 
Coursework   Critical Essay 2    50% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 180 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Timothy Head, email:
Dr Sobia Ahmad Kaker, email:
Tim Head & Dr Sobia Ahmad Kaker



External examiner

Dr Emily Gray
University of Warwick
Assistant Professor of Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 138 hours, 138 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

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