Module code: SOC1035

Module Overview

The Criminal Justice System comprises those institutions and agencies that are collectively responsible for managing a state’s response to crime and disorder. This module provides an introduction to the key agencies within the contemporary criminal justice system in England and Wales but parallels are also drawn to other jurisdictions (where appropriate). We will focus on the role and function of the police service, prosecutors, courts, prisons and the probation service.

Module provider


Module Leader

AKRIVOS Dimitris (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Overview of the Criminal Justice System;

  • The Police;

  • The Crown Prosecution Service and the Prosecution Process;

  • The Courts Service and the Judiciary;

  • Prisons and Punishment;

  • The Probation Service;

  • Youth Justice;

  • Minority groups and the Criminal Justice System;

  • Victims and Restorative Justice;

  • Miscarriages of Justice

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework NEWS ANALYSIS 40
Coursework ESSAY 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to offer students opportunities to showcase their comprehensive grasp of theoretical frameworks and intricate policy dynamics within the criminal justice system. By incorporating a news analysis and an essay, the strategy encourages students to delve deeply into both contemporary challenges and theoretical underpinnings, fostering a nuanced understanding of criminal justice. Beyond the specific subject matter, the assessments are intentionally designed to cultivate transferable skills. Through critical analysis, effective communication, and synthesis of complex information, students not only demonstrate their familiarity with criminal justice concepts but also develop valuable skills applicable across various professional contexts. The strategy thus not only assesses theoretical and policy knowledge but also actively contributes to the broader goal of enhancing students' analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills, preparing them for multifaceted challenges beyond the scope of the criminal justice system.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • News analysis (addresses learning outcomes: 1, 3 and 4)

  • Essay (addresses learning outcomes: 2, 3 and 4)


Formative assessment:

Students receive regular formative feedback during seminars. Students are also able to schedule one-to-one meetings with the module leader to discuss progress and assessments.



Throughout the module, students will receive detailed written feedback on their performance. This feedback is designed to be constructive, providing valuable insights into their strengths and areas for improvement. The goal is to offer students a clear understanding of their progress and to guide them towards academic success. The feedback will be timely, allowing students ample opportunity to absorb and integrate the suggestions into their work before the final summative assessment. This proactive approach ensures that students have the necessary time and support to enhance their skills, address identified areas of development, and ultimately excel in their academic endeavours.

Module aims

  • The module aims to introduce students to the fundamental components and principles of criminal justice systems, focusing on England and Wales while encouraging comparisons to other jurisdictions. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the module seeks to familiarise students with the historical evolution, organisational structures, and key actors within these systems. Students will explore the core concepts of law enforcement, judicial processes, imprisonment and rehabilitation, gaining insights into how these components interact to maintain social order and administer justice.
  • Additionally, the module aims to cultivate critical thinking skills by encouraging students to analyse the ethical considerations, challenges, and contemporary issues within criminal justice systems
  • Overall, the module aims to equip students with a solid foundation to navigate the complexities of criminal justice and foster an awareness of its societal implications.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Developing students¿ understanding of the role and functions of the criminal justice system; KC
002 Engendering knowledge of key theoretical conceptualisations of the criminal justice process; KC
003 Developing understandings of the relationship between CJS policy and practice and how this impacts upon minority groups; KCPT
004 Developing effective communication skills to articulate and discuss key concepts, issues, and debates within the field of criminal justice. 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 achieve several key objectives. Firstly, the strategy aims to foster an in-depth understanding of the role and functions of the criminal justice system by employing a combination of lectures, case studies, and seminar discussions. Through exposure to key theoretical conceptualisations, students are encouraged to critically engage with the academic discourse surrounding the criminal justice process. Moreover, the strategy incorporates real-world examples and case studies from England and Wales but also other jurisdictions to illuminate the complex relationship between criminal justice policy and practice. Particular emphasis is placed on minority groups’ experiences of the criminal justice process. Finally, the strategy integrates different forms of communication, including written assignments, in-class debates and other seminar activities, providing students with opportunities to articulate and discuss key concepts and issues within the realm of criminal justice. By aligning with these strategies, the module seeks to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter while honing critical thinking and communication skills in a practical and applicable context.


The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures, Seminars, 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: SOC1035

Other information

The School of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: Students learn about different criminal justice agencies (police, CPS, courts, prison and probation services) and the professional skills required to join them. They have opportunities to work and receive feedback on formative assessments involving real-life scenarios. The module’s assessment strategy also promotes the development of key employability skills (critical thinking, conveying complex concepts in a concise and compelling manner, policy evaluation, time management).

Digital capabilities: The module uses digital technologies (SurreyLearn, Panopto, PollEverywhere, Box of Broadcasts National) to promote student learning and facilitate in-class discussions. Students also explore issues relating to the impact of technology on criminal justice (e.g. the use of social media as a form of extra-legal justice)

Global and cultural capabilities: the module introduces diverse perspectives through the use of case studies from a wide range of countries, cultures and environments. The use of audience participation software PollEverywhere provides all students (including those whose first language is not English) with equal opportunities to participate in class discussions.

Sustainability: The module encourages students to explore and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of existing criminal justice institutions. By doing so, it incorporates some of the principles outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – especially, Goal 7 (Gender Equality), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).

Resourcefulness and Resilience (RR): The module utilises criminal justice-related materials (videos, news stories, reports) exploring RR in real-life contexts. Students are provided with detailed guidance (module information, assessment brief, in-class discussions, peer feedback, personal tutorials) explaining how they are expected to achieve the module’s learning outcomes and clearly articulating how the module contributes to their broader ‘learning journey’.  

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.