Understanding the Criminal Justice System (L3123)

15 credits, Level 4

Spring teaching

This module provides an introduction to the criminal justice system focusing on key debates around social control and the historic development of institutions. This involves assessing the development of key components of the justice system including:

  • prisons
  • the police
  • probation
  • the courts
  • community justice.

You will also critically examine contemporary debates including race and crime, gender, power and punishment, issues of overpolicing and criminalisation, youth justice and crime prevention. The module also aims to situate the British justice system within an international context to allow for a comparative understanding.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: