Module code: LAW2091

Module Overview

This module is interdisciplinary in nature, tracing the private and public conceptualisations of domestic violence through changing political, economic, and legal cultures. Domestic violence has until recently been a largely neglected area of criminal justice research and policy. Yet the last few decades have witnessed significant changes in the attention that politicians and criminal justice officials give toward modifying existing legal structures and crafting new policies designed to address the unique nature of domestic violence offending and victimisation. The module covers victimisation and perpetration, laws and policies, and criminal justice responses regarding domestic violence. Domestic violence in the United Kingdom is a focus, yet comparative contexts across the globe are considered as well.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

HAMILTON Melissa (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 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Understanding domestic violence

  • Terminology

  • Types and intents

  • Gendered nature

  • Contextualising abusive relationships

Theoretical explanations for perpetration and victimisation in domestic violence

  • Power and control

  • Cycle of violence

  • Masculinities

  • Connection between sports and domestic violence

  • Trauma response

Laws and policies regarding domestic violence

  • Historical development

  • Specialised family violence statutes

  • coercive control statute

  • Application of general criminal law statutes to domestic abuse

Policing domestic violence

  • Arrest policies

  • Domestic violence disclosure scheme

  • Use of cautions

Civil protective orders

Prosecuting domestic violence crimes

  • Charging decisions

  • Victims’ rights

  • Vulnerable victims and witnesses

  • Evidentiary issues

Courts and sentencing

  • Specialised courts

  • Sentencing guidelines

  • Expert witnesses

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 and their engagement with relevant literature.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of a final examination at the end of the module with some combination of problem questions, essays, and objective questions.

Formative assessment

Students will be afforded the opportunity to gain written feedback via a formative assessment that will not count toward the final grade but may improve the students’ summative assessments.


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 analysis, communication, and debate.
  • Provide an overview of the nature and forms that domestic abuse can take, such as physical, sexual, economic, emotional, psychological, and pet abuse.
  • Assess the impacts that domestic violence can have on individual victims, their families, and communities.
  • Explore cases and controversies in historical and contemporary societies regarding domestic violence.
  • Provide an historical overview of informal and formal social control tools employed (or not) to combat domestic violence.
  • Explore the key theoretical explanations for victimisation and perpetration of domestic violence offenses.
  • Draw theoretical insights from the academic domains of criminology, victimology, psychology, sociology, and legal studies.
  • Examine the responses of police, prosecutors, and judges to domestic violence cases.
  • Consider the effectiveness of domestic violence policies and laws.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
005 Demonstrate an understanding of the tensions that characterise historical and contemporary criminal justice processes with respect to domestic violence. KCT
006 Identify the nature and forms that domestic violence may entail. KCPT
007 Identify and contextualise the multiple impacts that domestic violence can have on victims, their families, and communities. KCPT
001 Critically assess prosecutorial policies and charging discretion in cases of domestic violence. KCPT
008 Identify core dimensions effecting our understandings of domestic violence, including the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality, and social class. KCPT
009 Show awareness of contemporary developments in laws and policies focused upon domestic violence, and analyse their effectiveness. KCPT
010 Identify key theoretical explanations for victimisation and perpetration of domestic violence. KCPT
011 Explain the ways to identify the primary aggressor in cases suggesting mutual battering. KCPT
002 Debate the efficacy of victim-oriented policies. KCPT
003 Analyse the civil protective order regime and its effectiveness. KCPT
012 Critically assess the new legislation concerning coercive control. KCPT
013 Critically assess police responses to domestic violence calls and arrest policies. KCPT
004 Critically assess punishments assessed domestic violence perpetrators. KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to introduce topics and contextualise their importance to criminal justice practices. Case studies as well as the results of empirical research on topics of interest are critically assessed. Each week’s materials are not to be read in isolation, but are designed to build on the cumulative knowledge students should gain as the module moves forward. Students are asked to consider, with a nuanced and critical analysis, why certain conduct regarding domestic violence has been criminalised or not and why. We consider the moral and policy considerations that legislators face in deciding to criminalise behaviors and the punishments that they tie to unlawful acts. The recently enacted English law on coercive control is a particular focus.

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: LAW2091

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law LLB (Hons) 2 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.