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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Understanding Punishment

Unit code LAWS20692
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Law
Available as a free choice unit? No


The Unit will be structured around sociological approaches to punishment, drawing on several resources including David Garland's book Punishment and Modern Society, which provides an authoritative and critical account of the main social science perspectives on punishment. Largely using a workshop method to promote active learning, the Unit will work through Garland's evaluations of the contributions of Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Elias and Foucault to our understanding of punishment. The Unit will explore how each of these perspectives can be used to understand contemporary issues and dilemmas in penal policy. More recent theoretical developments (e.g. the rise of risk-based approaches) will also be covered.


The unit aims to:
i) provide students with a thorough understanding of the main theoretical perspectives on punishment;
ii) enable them to apply these perspectives to current issues in penal policy;
iii) continue their development of a range of intellectual and practical study skills.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
Provide a critical account of the theoretical perspectives on punishment covered on the Unit;
Explain how these perspectives can be used to understand contemporary issues in penal policy.

Intellectual skills
Accurately summarise and evaluate complex material;
Apply theoretical ideas to address practical/policy problems;
Develop arguments in a logical and coherent way.

Practical skills
Research, collate and evaluate relevant materials.

Transferable skills and personal qualities
Work effectively in a team;
Prepare and deliver effective presentations.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be 10 x 2-hour lectures and 10 x 1-hour seminars, covering the following 10 areas (ie 1 lecture and 1 seminar on each topic):
1. Defining punishment & social solidarity
2. The death penalty
3. The political economy of punishment
4. Punishment & discipline
5. Punishment, culture & sensibilities
6. Punishment, risk & understanding community punishment
7. Punishment & money - understanding fines
8. Special & general deterrence
9. Punishment & confinement - understanding prison
10. Revision & exam preparation
The lectures are a blend of a traditional format with interactive elements where possible and including a range of audio-visual materials.

The delivery of seminars is organised to maximise opportunities for collaborative learning. Seminars are designed to consolidate and deepen learning on the topics presented in lectures.

One of the core resource will be the Garland textbook. A range of supporting material will be provided on Blackboard (including lecture slides, articles, reports, links to videos, other weblinks).

Formative feedback is provided on a non-assessed essay half-way through the Unit, as well as during the weekly seminars.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be a 2,500 word essay and a 1000 word blog

Materials will be available on Blackboard to help with preparing for your exam. There are also many sources of information about researching, writing and referencing available on the Humanities study skills webpage and through the John Rylands library.


Recommended reading

The core resource will be the Garland textbook. Additional material will be made available on Blackboard (further reading, web links, video/audio content).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rosemary Broad Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Restricted to: LLB (Law with Criminology) if not choosing LAWS20452 or LAWS20412 and BA (Criminology) for which this subject is compulsory. LLB (Law), BA/LLB (Law with Politics), BA (Econ) and BA Social Sciences (BASS).
Other students from the Faculty of Humanities as approved by the Course Unit Director.

Pre-requisites: None.

Please see Law School timetable

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