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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Visual Criminology (LAWS11473)

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 introduces students to visual criminology and some of the diverse scholarship that has influenced its development (e.g. art theory, cultural studies, semiotics).

The first part of the course provides an orientation to the field of visual criminology, the topics it covers, its theoretical and empirical sources, and to one of its primary justifications: the need to challenge the claimed or assumed 'neutrality' of images. The course then moves onto questions of method, ethics and practice: what does it mean to 'do' visual criminology, and what are the possibilities and constraints? This session will prepare students to 'do' visual criminology themselves as part of the assessment.

The final part of the course allows for more in-depth critical analysis of areas where visual criminology is being used (an indicative list of these examples includes: law, justice and evidence; testimony, memory and atrocity crimes; police and policing; punishment and carceral spaces; video games and immersive communities). Recurrent themes in the course include: representation and authenticity; representation and identity; emotion and empathy; interpretation, hierarchies of credibility and 'ways of seeing'; ethics, consent and criminological activism.
Course description 1) Framing 'visual criminology'

An introductory section that will scope out the following: the field of visual criminology situated within its sub-fields (e.g. narrative criminology, documentary criminology, cultural criminology); the variety of topics covered in visual criminology; the justifications for the 'visual turn' in the social sciences; representations of identities (age, class, race, gender); methods, ethics and practice of visual criminology; and, the risks of visual criminology. All of these themes will run right throughout the course.

The following are an indicative list of topics that will be covered:

2) Representation and mythologies
3) Emotion, empathy and authenticity
4) Doing visual criminology
5) Justice, testimony and representation
6) Watching the detectives: images and policing
7) Visualising the invisible: carceral spaces and visual criminology
8) Visual criminology at the movies
9) Affective spaces: gaming and visual criminology
10) The future of visual criminology
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, 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 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment Information:

1) 1500 Word Essay on Visual Criminology (25%)
2) Oral Exam/Presentation of Visual Criminology Project (75%)

Formative Assessment Information:

- The 25% essay provides written feedback that is also formative for the project;
- Project feedforward on expectations, method and ethics integrated into 'Doing visual criminology' seminar;
- Ongoing project feedforward integrated into seminars 5-10.
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form 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. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of scholarship in the field of Visual Criminology.
  2. Exercise informed and critical judgement in reflecting on scholarship and in creatively applying it to real world issues.
  3. Design, implement, and present an original Visual Criminology project.
  4. Evidence an ability to read and research topics and assessments critically and independently, as well as demonstrate critical judgement and reflexivity in relation to project ethics.
  5. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of scholarly influences on Visual Criminology (e.g. art theory, cultural studies, semiotics).
Reading List
All of the resources in the bibliography are available in the Edinburgh University libraries.

Key textbooks that will be heavily used are available as ebooks (*)

Barthes, R. (1977), Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana.
Baudrillard, J. (1994), Simulcra and Simulation. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
Baxandall, M. (1985), Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Becker, H.S. (1995), 'Visual sociology, documentary photography and photojournalism: it's (almost) all a matter of context', Visual Sociology, 10: 5-14.
Berger, J. (1972/2008), Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin.
*Brown, M. and Carrabine, E. (eds.)(2017), Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology. London and New York: Routledge.
Brown, M. and Rafter, N. (2013), 'Genocide films, public criminology, collective memory', British Journal of Criminology, 53: 1017-1032.
Brown, M. (2014), 'Visual criminology and carceral studies: counter-images in the carceral age', Theoretical Criminology, 18(2): 176-197.
Carrabine, E. (2011), 'The iconography of punishment: execution prints and the death penalty', Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 50(5), 452-464.
Cohen, S. (2012), States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Hayward, K.J. and Hall, S. (2020), 'Through Scandinavia darkly: a criminological critique of Nordic noir', British Journal of Criminology, OnlineFirst.
Hayward, K.J. and Presdee, M. (eds.)(2010), Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image. London: Routledge.
De La Fuente, E. (2007), 'The 'new' sociology of art: putting art back into social science approaches to the arts', Cultural Sociology,1(3): 409-425.
Greenfield, S., Osborn, G. and Robson, P. (2010), Film and the Law: The Cinema of Justice. Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing.
Knowles, C. and Sweetman, P. (eds.) (2004), Picturing the Social Landscape: Visual Methods and the Sociological Imagination. London: Routledge.
Latour, B. (1986), 'Visualization and cognition: thinking with eyes and hands, Knowledge and Society: Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present, 6: 1-40.
*Lippens, R. and Murray, E. (eds.)(2019), Representing the Experience of War and Atrocity: Interdisciplinary Explorations in Visual Criminology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Natali, L. (2016), A Visual Approach for Green Criminology: Exploring the Social Perception of Environmental Harm. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pink, S. (2012), Advances in Visual Methodology. London: Sage.
Rafter, N. and Brown, M. (2011), Criminology Goes to the Movies: Crime Theory and Popular Culture. New York and London: NYU Press.
Sontag, S. (2003), Regarding the Pain of Others. London: Penguin.
Turkle, S. (2017), Alone Together: Why we Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.
Young, A. (2007), 'Images in the aftermath of trauma: responding to September 11th', Crime, Media, Culture, 3: 30-48.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding:
- Detailed knowledge of scholarship in the field of Visual Criminology
- Detailed knowledge of methods and ethics in the field of Visual Criminology
- Detailed knowledge of scholarly influences on Visual Criminology (e.g. art theory, cultural studies, semiotics)

Skills and Abilities in Research and Enquiry:
- Ability to effectively use the library and electronic search engines to locate academic sources
- Ability to exercise informed and critical judgement in reflecting on scholarship and in creatively applying it to real world issues
- Ability to design, implement, and present an original Visual Criminology project (with support from the course organiser)

Skills and Abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy:
- Ability to read and research topics and assessments critically and independently
- Taking ownership of an independent research project
- Critical judgement and reflexivity in relation to project ethics
- Independent time-management and working to deadlines

Skills and Abilities in Communication:
- Oral communication skills in seminar discussion
- Working constructively and respectfully in groups
- Written presentation of complex academic ideas and critique
- Multi-media presentational skills involving image and text and reflection on their relationship

Skills and Abilities in Personal Effectiveness:
- Ownership and time-management of independent learning
- Ability to design, implement and present a project
- Ability to learn from and contribute to peer learning exercises
- Ability to seek guidance when appropriate
- Ability to reflect on and act upon feedback

Technical/practical Skills:
- Library research skills and use of academic search engines
- Reading skills across complex material from different disciplines
- Oral and written communication skills
- Project design skills
- Skills in integrating visual and narrative material
KeywordsLevel 11,Postgraduate,Law,Criminology,Visual,Visual Criminology,MSc
Course organiserDr Alistair Henry
Tel: (0131 6)50 9697
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Culross
Tel: (0131 6)50 9588
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