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

FIONDA Julia (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 122

Seminar Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 6

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
Examination Open Book Examination 2 hours 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of an open-book examination including a mix that might include a problem question, essay, and/or objective inquiries.

Formative assessment

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


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


The assessment method for each module has been selected to test a variety of key skills, competences and outcomes as required by QAA. As such, the assessment method cannot be changed. Reasonable adjustment may be made on application subject to ALS approval AND only where such adjustment still allows for the required skills, key competences and outcomes to be assessed at an equivalent level.



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 how to use limited prison beds effectively.
  • 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

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.

  • The summative examination 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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW2089

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 2020/1 academic year.