Crime and Criminal Justice

Course Convenor: Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe

Bethany Schmidt, Katrin Pfeil, and Lucy Markson

CrimeCrime affects most people at some point in their lives, yet there is ongoing debate in academia, politics and the public about what causes it and how best to deal with it. This course explores both the concept of crime and the criminal justice system which exists to deal with crime. The criminal justice system is a multifaceted system which encompasses a variety of aims, some of which are competing – in this sense, the course aims to disentangle what the system tries to do. This will lead students to form a theoretically informed understanding of criminal justice. The course will introduce students to criminology, theories of crime and relevant issues regarding trials and sentencing. The course is primarily focused on criminal justice in the UK and the US, but students will be encouraged to use experience and knowledge from other countries to contribute to the debates.

This course is aimed at: Students with a broad interest in criminology. This encompasses those majoring or minoring in sociology, psychology and/or politics-based courses. If you’re interested in this course, you might also like to consider taking International Law/War(fare) or Understanding World Politics: A Critical Overview of Core Issues and Theories.

Pre-requisite knowledge required: None especially; an ability to critically analyse and an open mind are required.

Transferable Knowledge and Skills: The course will develop students’ critical reading skills through engagement with a variety of readings on crime and criminal justice issues. Students’ intellectual skills will be enhanced through having to extract key elements from complex information, identifying opposing theories and engaging in lateral thinking. Seminars will be focused on student discussion and thus will develop the ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely. Students will be invited to give presentations on what they have read to develop their communication skills, which will also be developed through the assessment framework.

Core reading

You will be given specific readings for each lecture/seminar session in advance of the respective lecture/seminar. Students should also read the following before the course begins:

  • Newburn T (2007) Criminology. Cullompton: Willan. Chapter 1: Understanding Crime and Criminology
  • Jones S (2009) Criminology. Oxford: OUP Chapter 1: Introduction—Criminology: its origins and research methods


Lecture hours: 12 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar hours: 8 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 10 hours)