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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Understanding Punishment

Unit code CRIM20692
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The Unit will be structured around sociological approaches to punishment, drawing on several resources including David Garland's book Punishment and Modern Society, which provides an authoritative and critical account of the main social science perspectives on punishment. Largely using a workshop method to promote active learning, the Unit will work through Garland's evaluations of the contributions of Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Elias and Foucault to our understanding of punishment. The Unit will explore how each of these perspectives can be used to understand contemporary issues and dilemmas in penal policy. More recent theoretical developments (e.g. the rise of risk-based approaches) will also be covered.


The unit aims to:
i) provide students with a thorough understanding of the main theoretical perspectives on punishment;
ii) enable them to apply these perspectives to current issues in penal policy;
iii) continue their development of a range of intellectual and practical study skills.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
Provide a critical account of the theoretical perspectives on punishment covered on the Unit;
Explain how these perspectives can be used to understand contemporary issues in penal policy.

Intellectual skills
Accurately summarise and evaluate complex material;
Apply theoretical ideas to address practical/policy problems;
Develop arguments in a logical and coherent way.

Practical skills
Research, collate and evaluate relevant materials.

Transferable skills and personal qualities
Work effectively in a team;
Prepare and deliver effective presentations.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching in academic year 20/21 will reflect both University policy and local and national lockdown restrictions operating at the time of delivery. We will offer face-to-face teaching where possible and provide a like for like on-line experience for those unable to be on campus. 

Our teaching models will be flexible and allow us to adapt to changing conditions, however, the common intention across units is to provide (1) media, activities and other learning material that should be engaged with before scheduled teaching; (2) a timetabled 2-hour online lecture/workshop slot used for a range of online Q&A and follow-up activities; (3) a timetabled weekly 1-hour seminar/activity slot that will be face-to-face if possible and ‘live’ online if not/preferred; (4) weekly opportunity for 1:1 support. In total, there will be the opportunity for up to 30 hours of contact time.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be a 2,500 word essay and a 1000 word blog

Materials will be available on Blackboard to help with preparing for your exam. There are also many sources of information about researching, writing and referencing available on the Humanities study skills webpage and through the John Rylands library.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Emily Smith Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Restricted to: LLB (Law with Criminology) if not choosing LAWS20452 or LAWS20412 and BA (Criminology) for which this subject is compulsory. LLB (Law), BA/LLB (Law with Politics), BA (Econ) and BA Social Sciences (BASS).
Other students from the Faculty of Humanities as approved by the Course Unit Director.

Pre-requisites: None.

Please see Law School timetable

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