The Sociology of Imprisonment - SO711

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR C Chatwin checkmark-circle


This course will introduce students to the sociological analysis of prisons and penal policy. The module is organised around the general theme of a discussion of current debates in the criminology and sociology drawing on both theoretical and empirical research. More specific themes will include:


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

22 hours - 11 hours of lectures and seminars each week.

Method of assessment

100% coursework (one essay 5000 words)

Indicative reading

Bottoms, A. Rex, s. and Robinson, G. (2004) Alternatives to Prison (Willan)
Carlen, P. and Worrall, A. (2004) Analysing Women’s Imprisonment (Willan)
Cullen, F. and Gilbert, K. (1982) Reaffirming Rehabilitation (Anderson Publishing)
Currie, E. (1998) Crime and Punishment in America (Metropolitan Books)
Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Allen Lane)
Goffman, E. (1961) Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. (Pelican)
Matthews, R. (2009) Doing Time: An Introduction to the Sociology of Imprisonment (Palgrave/Macmillan)
Matthews, R. (2001) Imprisonment (Ashgate)
Parenti, C. (1999) Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis
Rusche, G. and Kirchheimer, O. (2003) Punishment and Social Structure (Transaction Publishers)
Tonry, M. (2004) The Future of Imprisonment (Oxford University Press)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Have an understanding of recent developments and contemporary debates on imprisonment and penal policy
Be able to apply different sociological theories to the analysis of key issues in this field
Be able to evaluate and criticise research evidence, engaging directly with research materials and official data


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  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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