Module code: LAW2089

Module Overview

This module is interdisciplinary in nature, tracing the private and public conceptualisations of sentencing and penal policy (the latter covering prisons and community corrections) through changing legal, political, economic, and social cultures.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

HAMILTON M Dr (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: M211

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction to English sentencing

Sentencing aims, principles, and policies

Proportionality in sentencing

Aggravating and mitigating factors in punishment decisions

Sentencing dangerous offenders

Sociodemographic factors in criminal justice decisions

Procedural issues in sentencing

The penal crisis

Prison culture

Early release

Community sanctions


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 2,500 word Coursework 80
Oral exam or presentation Individual/Group Presentation 20

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills as critical thinkers and oral communicators, while additionally showing their mastery of the course material.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Group presentation in class; and


Formative assessment

Seminars involve group activities. Students will receive ongoing individual feedback during seminars and feedback on group activities.

Students will be encouraged to discuss their planned individual/group presentation in advance to get feedback from the course convenor.

Students will be afforded the opportunity to prepare a formative assessment (1,250 word coursework) that will not count toward the final grade but may improve the students’ summative coursework.


Feedback will be given orally and/or in writing on the class presentation.

Students submitting a timely formative assessment will be provided written feedback.

Module aims

  • Help students develop skills in critical analysis, communication, and debate.
  • Provide an overview of the nature and forms of sentencing.
  • Assess the impacts that sentencing and penal policies can have on defendants, victims, families, and communities.
  • Critically analyse how the system deals with “dangerous” offenders, such as sexual predators, terrorists, and serial recidivists.
  • Explore cases and controversies in historical and contemporary societies regarding sentencing and penal policies.
  • Draw theoretical insights from the academic domains of criminology, political science, psychology, and legal studies.
  • Address contemporary developments in laws and policies focused upon sentencing and imprisonment and consider their effectiveness.
  • Consider whether a penal crisis exists.
  • Recognise the components of evidence-based rehabilitative programs.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify and explain key theoretical explanations for designing an appropriate sentence (e.g., retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation). KCPT
002 Identify and analyse the nature and forms that criminal punishments may entail, such as incarceration, probation, fines, electronic tagging, or orders. KCPT
003 Identify procedural rules for sentencing decisions. KCPT
004 Identify and contextualise the multiple impacts that criminal penalties can have on defendants, victims, families, and communities. KCPT
005 Identify core dimensions underlying decisions regarding criminal penalties, including the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality, and social class. KCPT
006 Delineate the processes and rules regarding early release from prison. KCPT
007 Conceptualise how prison culture is related to prisoner health, welfare, and discipline, and how this might vary by gender. KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 122

Seminar Hours: 28

Tutorial Hours: 2

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching methods include:

An emphasis on interactive class discussion and debate.

Encouragement in spotting relevant social, policy, and legal issues.

Assigned readings and lecture material are integrated with class exercises.

Forms of media (film, audio, and print) highlighting issues relevant to the course content will be incorporated.

Class presentations by students are designed to develop skills in structuring material and effectively presenting ideas and arguments orally, as public speaking is a common practice in a professional career.

Students will be encouraged to ask respectful questions of interest during group presentations given by other students, as being an active recipient of information by speakers is a professional competence.

The summative coursework is designed to allow students to demonstrate learning from the written materials, class discussions, and exercises.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for CRIMINAL JUSTICE :

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.