Module code: SOC2066

Module Overview

This module looks at the role of contemporary technologies within crime and the criminal justice system and seeks to challenge current thinking around the extent to which technology can be a criminal ‘enabler’. The module seeks to develop critical understanding of the increasing role of technology within the criminal justice system – for example, forensic technologies such as fingerprinting and DNA profiles, ‘predictive’ technologies such as polygraph tests and neural scanning and enforcement/punitive technologies such as tasers, GPS tags and chemical execution. The module pays especial attention to arguments that ‘technological fetishism’ may be undermining the autonomy of the justice system, with the result that ‘technological justice’ may be replacing due process and the rule of law

Module provider


Module Leader

MCGUIRE Michael (Sociology)

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: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • criminal activity said to be ‘enabled’ by technology

  • criminality centred upon the internet and the misuse of ICTs including constructs such as ‘identity theft’ and ‘cyberbullying’

  • criminality involving other technologies such as bio-technology, industrial chemistry, genetically modified food, nano-technology and nuclear power amongst many others.

  • the impacts of technologisation upon the criminal justice system and how technology increasingly serves to facilitate forms of social control beyond this institution.

  • critical evaluation of the function and efficacy of key criminal justice technologies such as CCTV, genetic profiling, RFID, internet filters, satellite monitoring, and chemical testing

  • the increasing requirement for justice systems to defer to technological expects, in particular the expert witness

  • various examples of ‘extra-judicial’ technical control such as fingerprinting in schools, body scan devices at borders and chemical testing in the workplace


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY 1, 2000 WORDS 50
Coursework ESSAY 2, 2000 WORDS 50

Alternative Assessment

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge of technology issues related to crime and criminal justice.

The summative assessment for this module consists of two 2000 word essays which aim to help students develop a critical understanding of the criminology of technology

Informal formative assessment is conducted throughout the module during seminars where students have the opportunity to engage in exercises and readings and to receive feedback on how they are progressing.

Module aims

  • Develop an awareness and familiarity with the emerging forms of deviant behaviour facilitated by contemporary technologies
  • Provide a theoretical context for the range of criminal activities which fall under technological labels such as ‘cybercrime', ‘bioterrorism’ and so on
  • Consider the relationship between criminal justice, justice and the new social control mechanisms which depend upon technology.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Set out a framework for understanding the historical emergence of technology crime KC
2 Define what might be meant by the technological ‘enablement' of crime K
3 Critically evaluate the ways in which technologies shape the criminal justice process KCT
4 Identify and discriminate between  examples of technological justice and the use of technology for social control KC
5 Use new ideas and techniques within Criminology to develop practical and professional solutions in relation to crime and technology PT

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 reflect the programme’s key learning and teaching aims by:


•Developing students’ in-depth understanding of key criminological theories of technology:

•Indicating how such theories can explain criminal and control uses of technology

•Developing understandings of the relationship between theory and crime;

•Developing key study skills that relate to employability.


The learning and teaching methods include:


Lectures (1 hour per week)

Seminars (1 hour per week)

Class exercises

Class discussions

Independent study


Each session focuses on particular technologies and their use or misuse in criminal justice contexts. Sessions are split between lectures which aim to provide a broad introduction to a topic and seminars which aim to allow more in-depth discussion of key issues and to engage in practical exercises which enhance knowledge in more practical ways

Each session has one piece of primary reading which all students are expected to read. This reading provides the basis for class discussions. Additional reading is strongly encouraged too.


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: SOC2066

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology 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.