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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Criminal Justice (LAWS08136)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course gives an introduction to a wide range of questions about crime and its control, drawing on criminological theory, research and practice. The course introduces the key institutions, processes and controversies in thinking about criminal justice and crime control. Throughout the course there is an emphasis on the relationships between theory, research and practice and you are encouraged to think critically about the nature of 'evidence' in relation to crime and control.

The course aims to develop your ability to appraise arguments critically in terms of their logical coherence and the use made of evidence. It encourages you also to think about how theoretical and research knowledge can be applied to practical problems and to understand the socio-economic framework in which the criminal justice system operates. In particular, it encourages you to develop your own critical understanding of concepts of justice and injustice as they apply to crime control.
Course description This course is divided into two parts:

I. Criminal justice and injustice: This section of lectures gives a critical introduction to the agencies and processes involved in crime control. Who are the key institutions and actors in the criminal justice system, and how do they work with offenders? What are the problems and controversies in the way they operate? And how might they inadvertently disadvantage vulnerable groups?

II. The politics of criminal justice: This section of lectures draws closely on contemporary research to explore in depth the way key criminal justice institutions are shaped by wider political pressures. What are the controversies surrounding the operation of these criminal justice agencies? What are the challenges they experience? What are the implications for those people who are subject to them? And what are the implications for future reform?

Topics may change from year to year, but indicative topics include:
- The court process and in/justice
- Punishment and in/justice
- Gender and in/justice
- Victims and in/justice
- The politics of prisons
- Politics and the media
- The politics of policing
- The politics of youth justice

There are two themed lectures each week, and a linked tutorial which takes place the following week. Tutorials are a central part of the teaching of the course and are where students are encouraged to apply the theoretical ideas introduced in the lectures to particular contemporary problems. Tutorial work is active, critical and discursive. Students may be asked, for example, to design a prison; to debate the place of restorative justice in the criminal justice system; or to analyse ethnographic fieldnotes as a basis of a discussion about policing and police culture.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  295
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Exam 100%
Feedback Students will be given the opportunity to produce a formative essay mid-way through the course. Personal, detailed, written feedback will be given to each student within two weeks of submission, and tutors will provide generic feedback to their tutorial groups. Generic written feedback will be produced on the summative assessment at the end of the course within three weeks of the exam board. Students have the opportunity to view their exam scripts at a time set by the Law School undergraduate Teaching Office. Those students who do not pass the exam are strongly encouraged to have an individual meeting with the Course Organiser to discuss their script and means of improvement.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe and assess key elements of the criminal justice process.
  2. Describe and assess key developments in contemporary criminal justice and crime control.
  3. Describe and assess the ways in which the criminal justice system may inadvertently disadvantage vulnerable or minority groups.
  4. Describe and assess the contribution of empirical research to an understanding of crime control.
  5. Critically assess the use of evidence.
Reading List
There is no one textbook that completely covers the content of the core lecture programme. Students may, however, find the following books of use throughout the course, especially in preparation for tutorials.

- Newburn, T (2012) Criminology. Cullompton: Willan. This is a useful and comprehensive introductory text book which covers many key areas of controversy in contemporary criminal justice.
- Hucklesby, A and Wahidin, A (eds) (2009): Criminal Justice. Oxford: OUP. This is a good, comprehensive UK-focused text book.
- Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (2012): The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (5th edn). Oxford: OUP. This is a more advanced text book, with an up-to-date review of research in British criminal justice.

In addition, there will be set texts for each week's tutorial, which students are expected to read.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will develop your ability to:
- Think independently and critically.
- Critically evaluate practice and policy.
KeywordsIntroduction to Criminal Justice
Course organiserMs Sarah Macqueen
Tel: (0131 6)50 2136
Course secretaryMs Tracy Noden
Tel: (0131 6)50 2053
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