Module details for Crime and Punishment


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


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 the representations 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 and visual representations of key concepts and perspectives in historical context.

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 and representations about crime and criminals by exploring crimes, including those of the more and less powerful groups and individuals.

4.  Visualise key issues around notions of crime and punishment, their uses, representations and experiences

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?

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 20
Tutorial/Seminar 10
Practical Activity 4
Assessment 30
Independent 136
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

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 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.