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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Prisons and Places of Confinement (LAWS11413)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course addresses the uses of imprisonment, and related forms of confinement, in modern societies. It introduces students to "classic texts" in the history and sociology of prisons and "total institutions", before turning towards a range of contemporary problems and policy dilemmas, such as the phenomenon of "mass incarceration", the role of international standards and litigation and variations in incarceration around the world. It concludes by raising questions concerning possibilities for penal change, including innovative, experimental and alternative developments, and the prospects for supporting change and desistance in planned environments. It thus enables students to participate in an informed and critical manner in debates on the futures of the prison and its role in human societies.
Course description Indicative Teaching Programme:

╗ Histories, origins and scope places of confinement and human societies;
╗ The Society of Captives and the pains of imprisonment (Sykes and since);
╗ Penal power, discipline and modernity/The prison and the asylum (Foucault) (Goffman);
╗ The problem of order, and the legitimation of penal power (Sparks et al., Liebling);
╗ Gender, hierarchy and control (Carlen, Bosworth);
╗ Mass incarceration and late modern penalities;
╗ International standards and the regulation of penal power;
╗ Change, desistance, opportunity: can prisons work;
╗ Prisons and cultural imaginaries;
╗ Some futures of incarceration.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formative assessment will be by group presentation: participants will produce a poster-style summary of their contribution. The poster may (optionally) serve as a plan for one of the summative assessments.

There will be two equally-weighted summative assessments.

One will be an essay (3000 words) in response to one of a range of questions, inviting critical inquiry into an aspect of the history, theory or current controversies about prisons. The other will be a response (2000 words) in another format (for example a policy briefing, memorandum to a Parliamentary Committee or public inquiry, or contribution to a serious periodical) on a topic in current debates on prisons and imprisonment, or other institutions of confinement/detention.

The second assessment is closely modelled on one that has been used successfully on another course ┐ Penal Politics ┐ throughout its life. Extensive guidance and examples will be provided and it will be emphasized that these are not simple ┐opinion pieces┐ but ones in which an argument is developed that presents, discusses and properly references evidence, whether in the form of official or other statistics, previous scholarly research, or the perspectives of interested parties (prisoners, practitioners, lobby groups, and so on).
Feedback Formative work (presentation/posters) will be focused in weeks 5-8, and feedback will be provided during this part of the course.

Both summative pieces of work will be submitted after the conclusion of the course. Written feedback will be provided via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Evidence an advanced understanding of the history, current predicaments and future prospects of a chronically problematic field of public policy and provision.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and scope of debates on these topics and be able to participate in those debates from a knowledgeable position.
  3. Critically engage with current debates and reflect upon their own views and practices to discuss the values and commitments at stake in this field.
Reading List
J. Simon and R. Sparks (eds) (2012) The SAGE Handbook of Punishment & Society, Sage
R. Jones and R. Sparks (eds) (2016) Punishment (vols 1-4), Routledge
Y. Jewkes (et al) (eds) Handbook on Prisons (2nd edition)
G. Sykes (1958/2013) The Society of Captives, Princeton
R. Sparks et al (1996) Prisons and the Problem of Order, Oxford
D. Garland (2000) The Culture of Control, Oxford
J. Simon (2014) Mass Incarceration on Trial, New Press

Punishment & Society; The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice; Prison Service Journal; Social Justice; British Journal of Criminology
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Skills and Abilities in Research and Enquiry
- Students will synthesize knowledge acquired in relevant formats (such as blog posts; memoranda and press releases).

Skills and Abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
- Students will engage critically with current debates, to reflect upon their own views and practices and to discuss explicitly the values and commitments at stake in this field.

Skills and Abilities in Communication
- Students will work with others to present in class in the deployment of argument in specific formats.

Skills and Abilities in Personal Effectiveness
- The course will demand that students are able to work in teams and manage time effectively (completing more than one assessment of different types), in addition to a wide range of advanced academic skills in research, presentation and classroom discussion.
Additional Class Delivery Information Number of seminars (2 hours) per course:
20 credit courses: 10 seminars = 20 hours
Course organiserProf Richard Sparks
Tel: (0131 6)50 2059
Course secretaryMs Florence Finlayson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9588
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