BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Policing and the Police

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM20051
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course provides students with a critical, research-based appreciation of the police, police-work and policing.

Indicative content: (1) Introduction to the course; (2) Police reform; (3) Discretion, discrimination, diversity; (4) Understanding police powers; (5) Street policing; (6) Police occupational culture; (7) Covert policing; (8) Police misconduct & complaints; (9) Public order policing & human rights; (10) Course overview and assessment preparation.


The unit aims to (1) introduce students to the area of police, police-work and policing; and, (2) provide students with a critical understanding of research as applied to these topics.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to: (1) understand the contested dynamics of police-work and policing; (2) appreciate classic and contemporary research on policing; (3) develop a clear understanding of the nature of contemporary debates on policing and the police.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning across course units consists of: (1) preparatory work to be completed prior to teaching sessions, including readings, pre-recorded subject material and online activities; (2) a weekly whole-class lecture or workshop; (3) a tutorial; and (4) one-to-one support via subject specific office hours.

Employability skills

(i) analyse, critique and (re-)formulate a problem or issue; (ii) rapidly and thoroughly review/rate argument and evidence from targeted bibliographic searches; (iii) plan, structure and present arguments in a variety of written formats and to a strict word limit, (iv) express ideas verbally and organise work effectively in small teams for a variety of written and oral tasks; (v) obtain, manipulate and (re-)present different forms of data; (vi) manage time effectively; (vii) reflect on and improve performance through feedback.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
Set exercise 20%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback (both individual and collective) will be given on (1) on tasks and contribution in class, (2) the mock exam essay. In addition to individual marks, class-level feedback will be given on the exam.

The course will be assessed by a 3000 word essay (80%) and weekly online quizzes (20%).

Recommended reading

Bowling, B, Reiner, R. and Sheptycki, J. (2019) The Politics of the Police, Oxford: Oxford University Press is an excellent text and you are advised to obtain a copy.

The library also has earlier editions of The Politics of the Police.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

Additional notes

Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of around 30-35 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands around 10-11 hours of study per week consisting of (i) 3 timetabled teacher-led hours, (ii) 7-8 independent study hours devoted to preparation, required and further reading, and note taking.



Students will be provided with a preliminary examination paper at the end of teaching (mid-December) containing eight questions. When candidates sit their examination in January, three of these questions will have been removed from the Examination Paper and they will be required to answer three of the remaining five questions. SUBJECT TO COVID19 DELIVERY. SO ANY EXAM WILL BE ONLINE WITH AN EXTENDED COMPLETION

Restricted to: BA (Criminology) and LLB (Law with Criminology) students for which this subject is compulsory, Law School students, BA (Econ) students (all pathways) and BA Social Sciences (BASS). 

This course is available to incoming study abroad students university wide.

Pre-requisites: None.

See Law School timetable


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