BASS Sociology and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Comparative Criminology

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM30641
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit takes an integrative approach to the study of comparative criminology; focussing equally on method and outcomes of substantive comparative research on crime and criminal justice. Using substantive developments, including, the European Sourcebook on Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics, the UN Survey on Crime and Criminal Justice Trends, the International Crime Victims Survey, the unit seeks to problematize the 'nature' of comparative work, its potential significance and challenges faced. The workshops illustrate how comparative work moves constantly between the descriptive and the theoretical (including the policy learning dimension). Case-studies, including China, cultural-context approaches and cross-national research form the basis for this analytic account of comparative criminology.


The unit aims to: provide students with a case-study rich approach to the comparative study of crime and punishment; across the world and present key substantive research themes.

Learning outcomes

Provide an analytic account of the nature of comparative research and substantive account of studies covered on the Unit;
Explain how comparative research contributes to an understanding of contemporary crime and justice.

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

Research, collate and evaluate relevant materials.

Work effectively within a group context;
Prepare and deliver effective presentations.

Teaching and learning methods

10 x 2 hour workshop sessions, plus a single hour seminar throughout the semester. Grounded in the enquiry-based learning approach, the focus is on you - the student - to assist you in developing skills of comparative enquiry. Delivery of teaching is based on a combination of my guided input and group work. Workshops entail small group exercises and problem solving (e.g. using group presentations, e-wikis, debates, problem-solving). Plenary discussion is also integral, as is student presentations on selected themes. Workshop materials (including audio/video content) will be available on Blackboard. 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. The workshop format of the course will also ensure that students have ongoing feedback on learning and performance.

Assessment methods

100% Coursework (4,000 words)

Feedback is provided on the general structure of assessed work prior to submission.

Recommended reading


Nelken, D. (2010) Comparative Criminal Justice London: Sage.

Introductory chapter in Pakes, F. (latest edition) Comparative Criminal Justice, (Cullompton: Willan Publishing).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Supervised time in studio/wksp 30

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
William Hebenton Unit coordinator

Additional notes

At UG level, this course is restricted to final year students only. Teaching in workshops is delivered alongside M level students (with assessment criteria at appropriate level).  

Restricted to: BA (Criminology); LLB (Law with Criminology); BA (Econ) students (all pathways) and BA Social Sciences (BASS).

Pre-requisites: None.

See Law School timetable


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