Module code: SOCM068

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to provide students with a critical understanding of historical and contemporary issues relating to policing and the police predominantly, but not exclusively, in England and Wales. Throughout the module students will broadly consider the nature of the policing task, the contemporary organisation of the service, and a range of issues concerning legitimacy, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness. Students will also consider different styles of policing, how they have changed over time, and the police role in relation to crime control. Students will also examine a number of relevant issues - both historical and contemporary - that present different challenges to the police and policing practice, and discuss how these can be addressed. This module relates to, and builds upon, knowledge acquired by students in other modules on the relevant PG pathway.

Module provider


Module Leader

HALL Nathan (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: 95

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 22

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Aspects of policing and the police covered by the module include:


  • Thinking about ‘policing’ and the ‘police’

  • The history and evolution of modern policing

  • Effectiveness and understanding approaches to policing in practice

  • The realities of modern policing

  • Policing powers and crime control

  • Police culture, deviance, and accountability

  • Policing communities

  • Contemporary policing challenges

  • The future of policing

Assessment pattern

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

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module.


  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • Coursework 1 (2000 words - 50%): Annotated Bibliography: Students will evaluate a set number of different sources in relation to a particular issue within policing and offer a brief reflection on their learning from having undertaken the task. The purpose is to further develop both literature searching and critical thinking skills regarding the construction of knowledge that will also help their preparation for the second assessment. This assessment addresses Learning Outcomes 1 and 2.

  • Coursework 2 (2000 words - 50%): Briefing Note to Ministers: Students will write a briefing note that conforms to current civil service guidelines in relation to a hypothetical scenario relating to current policing concerns. This assessment has been designed with employability in mind. It is intended to reflect the real written tasks undertaken by employees in many hierarchical organisations - particularly those within government and criminal justice agencies - where transparency, accountability and the justification of public expenditure are important. This assessment addresses Learning Outcomes 3 and 4.


The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to develop and test their knowledge and their skills in a manner that not only enhances their understanding of the topic, but also allows them to situate it within the wider context of the subject area, thereby contributing to the coherency of their learning journey. The assessments therefore contain valuable employability components and test a range of transferable skills.


Other elements of the assessment strategy allow students to test their performance in relation to ‘real-life’ scenarios and authentic documentation production, and in the case of the second assessment artefact, to critically engage with the latest academic knowledge in relation to the subject area.


All aspects of the assessment strategy further allow students to receive feedback from expert staff.


  Formative assessment


Informal formative assessment is conducted throughout the module during seminars where students have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities and to receive both peer and tutor feedback, with the aim of allowing students to assess their progress week by week.




Feedback and feedforward on summative assignments will be provided via SurreyLearn. This will indicate what students did well, less well, and what they need to do to improve in the future and will relate both to issues specific to the module and to transferable skills. Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module within in-class discussions and activities, and office hours.

Module aims

  • Understand the foundations and principles of modern policing
  • Assess how contemporary policing is conducted in specific practical social and political contexts, and operational terrains
  • Address the evidence base for different policing forms, and to understand how policing can be implemented in precise situations
  • Consider the ethical, moral, and legal bases of policing in different communities and social groups
  • Enhance student skillsets in line with the principles of the curriculum framework

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the fundamentals of policing techniques and functions KP
002 Critically evaluate existing empirical research from the social sciences C
003 Analyse policing programmes and initiatives KCP
004 Critically reflect on how practical and operational aspects of policing can be understood and evaluated KCT
005 Enhance student skillsets in line with the principles of the curriculum framework 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:


  • Allow students to acquire knowledge and develop their critical thinking skills;

  • Encourage students to be active participants in their own learning;

  • Maximise learning by engaging students with different learning backgrounds (including through their engagement with each other) and maximising their learning by drawing on their own experiences and contributions to group discussions.


This module comprises a range of teaching methods. Students will predominantly benefit from more traditional face-to-face sessions, also incorporating sessions from guest speakers. In addition, to provide a pedagogically robust learning experience, learning and teaching methods will include seminars, casework examples, videos, active learning/discussion sessions, and online resources.


Collectively, these methods will combine guided learning, independent learning, and self-reflection. The lectures will introduce and explain key concepts, theories, and core aspects of the practical application of the issues discussed. The seminars will provide students with the opportunity to be active participants in their learning experience by undertaking interactive exercises and group discussions, demonstrating their acquired understanding and knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills. Furthermore, the learning and teaching strategy is designed to develop students’ confidence and competence in working with others, digital capabilities, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, employability, and professionalism.


In order to build confidence and to engage students with diverse learning backgrounds, students will be encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and reflections, including those relating to their own experiences. Ongoing feedback opportunities from staff and peers will be variously present in seminars and online.

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: SOCM068

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework 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 area:


Employability: This module allows students to develop their understanding of the latest topics within policing. Students will leave in possession of the latest and best available information relating to their subject area - a proportion of which will have been delivered by external speakers - giving students direct access to professionals currently working in the field and thereby supporting their future career planning for roles in policing and wider criminal justice. This will hold clear benefits in relation to their employability as they approach the end of their degree. Coupled with the development of critical thinking, reasoning, decision-making, collaboration, self-reflection and evaluation, the ability to evaluate academic and professional evidence, and other transferable skills, the module allows students to further practice wider attributes that will be attractive to employers in this field. The focus of the assessment strategy will also help to prepare students for the realities of the world of work because it allows them to be familiar with how policy and practice are related and utilised in the wider context(s) of policing.


Sustainability: This module concerns itself, in considerable part, with the activities undertaken by criminal justice agencies (in particular, the police) and their employees. As such, through the learning, teaching and assessment activities, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on issues aligned with aspects of Goal 16 of the Sustainable Goals of the United Nations, namely, to provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.


Global and Cultural Capabilities: Aspects of the learning, teaching, and assessment strategy will require students to work collectively. This is intended to help foster a sense of community amongst the cohort from the start of the programme, and to allow students to work together, to reflect, and to share experiences with people from different backgrounds to solve problems and to address new, common challenges. In doing so, students will have the opportunity to broaden their own worldview, perspectives, and to challenge stereotypes, by actively engaging with a broader spectrum of ideas, experiences, and representations held by others, both through facilitated in-class discussions and elements of assessment.


Digital Capabilities: Students will continue developing their digital capabilities through the use of SurreyLearn, where they will continue to navigate and utilise the VLE for multiple aspects of the module online provision. Students will also utilise Microsoft Teams as a means of communication and collaboration and engage with other online platforms and databases.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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.