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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Sentencing and Judicial Culture (LAWS10217)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores key dimensions of sentencing practice and judicial culture today. The first part of the course introduces students to interdisciplinary sentencing scholarship, key principles and approaches in judicial decision-making and to a range of contemporary issues and problems such as imprisonment levels, sentencing consistency and judicial independence. The second section explores dimensions of judicial culture such as judicial appointments, diversity and training. This section will also focus on the performance of the judicial role, exploring issues such as the role of reason, emotion and empathy in sentencing and new approaches such as problem-solving courts and therapeutic jurisprudence. Two sessions in this section of the course will involve judicial practitioners: one session focusing on judicial training and a practical workshop on sentencing craft. Final seminars will explore sentencing reform and the impact of sentencing on offenders and victims.
Course description 1. Introduction to sentencing theory and practice: key actors, functions, processes and outcomes;
2. Origins and scope of sentencing scholarship: key principles and approaches in judicial; decision-making; contemporary issues and debates; the role of research and evidence;
3. Discretionary and mandatory sentencing: consistency and disparity;
4. Judicial culture: appointment, diversity, legitimacy, formal and informal practices;
5. Sentencing and emotions; judicial independence and impartiality;
6. New approaches: therapeutic jurisprudence and problem-solving courts;
7. Sentencing practice workshop;
8. Judicial governance and training;
9. Sentencing impact: victims, offenders, communities;
10. Sentencing reform: sentencing guidelines, legislation, cultural change?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course students should have gained: a knowledge of key sentencing processes, policies and outcomes; a knowledge and understanding of sentencing principles, current approaches, contemporary issues and debates; a detailed knowledge of sentencing scholarship including key theoretical and policy perspectives
  2. By the end of the course students should have gained: the ability to explore complex sociological and socio-legal issues in a framework of criminological theory; the capacity to evaluate responses in contemporary sentencing policy and practice with reference to empirical research
  3. By participating in the course students should have experience of: clear presentation of research, debates and students┬┐ own evidenced views in a variety of formats and for different audiences; the ability to synthesise perspectives gained from research, policy and practice and present a structured argument; the ability to identify and formulate researchable issues in policy and practice; critical evaluation of their own work and that of others
  4. By participating in the course students should have experience of: developing their capacity for independent research and critical thinking; development of a critical and reflective approach; the ability to engage with practitioners about areas of policy and practice within a framework of relevant scholarship; working with others in groups and respecting the views of others
  5. Awareness of issues about respect and confidentiality when engaging with judicial practitioners
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordssentencing,judicial culture,criminology
Course organiserDr Fiona Jamieson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5567
Course secretaryMs Dominique McKie
Tel: (0131 6)51 4550
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