Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice - LAWS9460

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Antonia Porter checkmark-circle


This module offers a critical study of contemporary issues in the English and Welsh criminal justice system. It uses inter-disciplinary insights about the workings of the criminal justice system and draws on scholarship from disciplines of history, critical legal studies, politics and sociology. The module's focus is primarily on England and Wales, but will reference other appropriate jurisdictions for comparative purposes. The course explores contemporary problems facing the criminal justice system with reference to topics such as youth justice; gendered aspects of criminal law; punishment; the emotional labour of criminal practice; and critical race theory. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach meaning that the topics are situated in the context of human rights and social, political and historical realities.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 180
Total study hours: 200


LLM in Law; LLM in Law (specialisation in Criminal Justice); PG Diploma in Law; PG Certificate in Law

Method of assessment

13.1 Main assessment methods

Short Essay – no more than 1500 words (30%)
Long Essay – no more than 3500 words (70%)

13.2 Reassessment methods

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

• Bell E, Criminal Justice and Neoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan 2011).
• Bumiller K, In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Violence Against Women Movement (Duke University Press 2008).
• Garland D, The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society (Oxford University Press 2001).
• Hall M, Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice (Routledge 2009).
• Hart HLA, Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law (Oxford University Press 2008).
• Cunneen C, Goldson B and Russell, S 'Human Rights and Youth Justice Reform in England and Wales: A Systemic Analysis' (2018) 18.4 Criminology & Criminal Justice
• Norrie A, Law and the Beautiful Soul (Routledge 2013).
• Phillips C and Bowling B, ‘Ethnicities, Racism, Crime and Criminal Justice’ in Liebling A, Maruna S and McAra L (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (Oxford University Press 2017) 370-397.
• Smart C, Feminism and the Power of Law (Routledge 1989).
• Smart C, Women, Crime and Criminology (Routledge 1976).
• Walklate S, Handbook of Victims and Victimology (Routledge 2007)
• Phillips, J et al, (eds) Emotional Labour in Criminal Justice and Criminology (Routledge, 2020).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a critical and systematic understanding of the main concepts and principles of criminal justice;
2. Critically evaluate the criminal justice system using contemporary theoretical debates;
3. Demonstrate the ability to conduct independent research about the criminal justice system and to critically evaluate a range of current theoretical and methodological perspectives;
4. Evaluate the current state of knowledge in the field and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the literature.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Research, interpret and critique complex material from across several disciplines, such as: law, criminal justice, politics, history and sociology
2. Demonstrate skills in making well-constructed written arguments
3. Demonstrate critical modes of thought and analysis
4. Demonstrate the capacity to undertake research on a specific topic
5. Present written research findings within a critical theoretical framework


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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