Module code: SOCM008

Module Overview

This module offers an introduction to the criminal justice systems in England and Wales. It looks at the various agencies involved in criminal justice, how they evolved and how they interact with each other and with offenders and victims. Theoretical conceptualisations of the criminal justice process are outlined. Relevant policy and legal interventions are also assessed.

Module provider


Module Leader

BERLUSCONI Giulia (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 130

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Module Availability

Semester 2

Module content

The module is divided into two key sections. The first six sessions provide the history and background to the criminal justice system, looking at differing models of criminal justice and providing an initial understanding of the main components of the modern CJS, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, prisons and probation. The second section of the module focuses on key aspects of contemporary criminal justice, including victims, youth justice, minority groups and their relations with key criminal justice institutions, and restorative justice.


  1. Introduction to the Module/The Criminal Justice System: Overview, Agencies and Themes

  2. Policing and the Police

  3. The Crown Prosecution Service and the Prosecution Process

  4. The Courts Service and the Judiciary

  5. Prisons and Punishment

  6. The Probation Service, Offender Management and NOMS

  7. Youth Justice

  8. Diversity and the Criminal Justice System I: Ethnicity and Identity

  9. Diversity and the Criminal Justice System II: Gay and Disabled Communities

  10. Victims and Restorative Justice

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK ESSAY 1 50
Coursework COURSEWORK ESSAY 2 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge of theoretical and policy issues relating to the criminal justice system. They can choose two different questions from a list of six. Each question examines a different aspect of the criminal justice system while asking students to relate this to other aspects of the module, thereby asking them to develop both specialist and broader knowledge of the CJS.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Two 2,000-word essays, with deadlines in week 8 of the module and then three weeks after the module has finished.


Formative assessment and feedback

Students receive extensive written feedback on both their summative assignments, with the feedback from the first being able to feed into the undertaking of the second. Students are encouraged to see the module leader about their work. In addition to this, students are set a number of formative exercises, including tests, which directly feed into to their assignments.

Module aims

  • Examine theoretical models of criminal justice;
  • Analyse the functions of the core elements of the criminal justice system (CJS), including the police service, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, prisons and probation;
  • Assess how the criminal justice system treats victims of crime;
  • Examine how offenders are dealt with at different stages of the CJS;
  • Analyse the relationship between minority groups and key criminal justice institutions and processes;
  • Assess the impact of relevant policy and legislation;
  • Analyse the effectiveness of different forms of punishment, including imprisonment, community penalties and restorative justice;
  • Outline how key skills learnt, and understandings of the CJS developed throughout the module, relate to issues of employability.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Be familiar with the principal institutions of the criminal justice system KP
2 Be acquainted with the effects of selected criminal justice policies KCPT
3 Understand the principal modes of analysing and conceptualising the CJS KCPT

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 the role and functions of the criminal justice system;

  • Engendering knowledge of  key theoretical conceptualisations of the criminal justice process;

  • Developing understandings of the relationship between CJS policy and practice and how this impacts upon minority groups;

  • 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 one aspect of the criminal justice system. 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 although interaction between lecturer and students is encouraged throughout. There will also be use of forms of media such as TV, film and radio.

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: SOCM008

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.