Crime and Punishment


This module will explore key concepts regarding crime and punishment. This includes how they are understood and represented in society and what impact different understandings of crime can have.,


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with :an introduction to key ideas and explanations about crime and punishment; an understanding of how crime and deviance are measured and understood; a consideration of who is defined as criminal and who is not; and finally both the meaning and use of punishment in society.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Outline definitions of crime, deviance and punishment through flexible collaboration with other students in examining key concepts and perspectives from a range of disciplines.

2.  Assess the extent of crime and the validity and reliability of official statistics and representations of crime through the creative use of IT skills to source information.

3.  Explore the dark figure of crime and problematize the dominant ideas about crime and criminals that exist by exploring and unpacking the crimes of the powerful.

4.  Outline key issues around the notion of punishment: how it used and experienced.

Indicative Content

1 The meaning of crime, deviance and punishment.

What do we mean by crime, deviance and punishment? How and why do different societies define certain behaviours as criminal whilst others do not? External and internal social control; the problem of social order; conformity and deviance.

2 The Extent of Crime and deviance.

The incidence of crime; How reliable are official statistics on crime? Who commits most crime? Are official statistics on crime useful? How do we 'talk' about crime and define criminal behaviour?

3 Crimes of the Powerful

Exploring the dark figure of crime: uncovering the implications of dominant constructions of criminality. What crimes exist that we know very little about? Why might that be? Includes engagement with crimes of the powerful including state corporate crime and human trafficking.

4 Punishment

In order to highlight the centrality of punishment in the criminal justice system, the meaning and use of punishment will be explored. Why do we punish people? What do we hope to achieve by punishing people? Is punishment a deterrent?

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The module is lecture and tutorial based. The first and final lectures will be discussion-based and group-led by students focusing on perceptions and reflexive thinking about the module. The 1st assessment is a short essay on the first 2 themes of the module, assessing students' understanding of how crime is defined, socially constructed and represented. This 1st assessment will also help develop students' writing and study skills and provide them with an opportunity to gain confidence in presenting their knowledge and understanding about crime in a written form in accordance with graduate attributes as described in the learning outcomes. Tutorials will consist of group-based discussions and practical tutorial guide workbook centred activities. The tutorial activities also enable students to incorporate reflexive thinking, collaborative and PDP skills into the module. These activities together with the 2nd unit of assessment form the majority of enquiry based learning within the module. The 2nd unit of assessment will help students to consider the aims of punishment and the criminal justice system more broadly (learning outcome four). Both assessments allow students to reflect on their educational achievements throughout the course, consider styles of learning about crime and deviance and use sources of information competently.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 20
Tutorial/Seminar 10
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 4
Assessment 30
Independent 136

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.