Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module SOCI43530: Prisons, Crime and Justice

Department: Sociology

SOCI43530: Prisons, Crime and Justice

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to L3KC09


  • •Successful completion of prison security vetting. Students are advised to audit an alternative module until the receiving confirmation of their security clearance.


  • None. However there is an interview process to establish all students suitability for the module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module is designed to:
  • Provide students with depth of knowledge of the criminal justice system in terms of its institutions, policies and practices.
  • Develop a deep and critical understanding of debates relating to crime and criminal justice, processes and issues.
  • Locate current issues in criminal justice within criminal justice theory and practice.


  • The criminal justice system: its institutions, policies and practices.
  • Theoretical debates and current research approaches relating to the causes of crime.
  • Debates around current issues, for example gender, crime and justice, ethnicity and justice, the regulation of drugs, and role of prisons within the criminal justice system.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:
  • Knowledge of the institutions comprising the criminal justice system.
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the complexities of theoretical, policy and research debates relating to crime and criminal justice theories, processes and issues.
  • Up to date knowledge, and a critical understanding of a selection of issues in criminal justice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will be able to:
  • Critically evaluate social science arguments and evidence at an advanced level.
  • Formulate and interrogate informed questions with specific reference to criminal justice-related issues and debates.
  • Communicate complex debates and arguments to peers via dialogic exchanges, group work and reflective papers.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students should be able to demonstrate:
  • an ability to gather and process complex and advanced information from a range of academic and policy sources;
  • ability to plan workload and manage time;
  • ability to construct systematic and coherent oral arguments.
  • ability to reflect critically on their own learning.
  • ability to operate independently and cooperatively, exercising appropriate judgment, in novel or complex contexts.
  • to understand the importance, and demonstrate compliance with the ethical and professional codes of practice relating to working within prison establishment.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be delivered in 10 block sessions of 4 hours (approximately as prison conditions may vary this) and will advance critical engagement with the academic material (to be provided) through a dialogical interaction between 'Outside' students (from Durham University) and ‘Inside' students (from the prison population).
  • In addition, the students will be required to attend 2/3 days training, as required by HMP prison service. The training includes various components, including prison security procedures; conditioning; fire training; counter terrorism; hostage training and a tour of the prison estate.
  • Students will also be required to participate in a 3-hour reflective essay writing workshop during week 3 of the module.
  • Throughout the module students will complete several pieces of work which together form a reflective learning journal on which they will receive interim formative feedback.
  • The reflective learning journal will allow students to reflect on their knowledge of criminal justice issues and themes, as well as assessing their critical engagement with these issues with classmates within the Inside-Out prison classroom and their ability to synthesise sources, plan and manage their own time and construct a coherent written argument. As a progressively developed piece, the assessment is designed to allow students to demonstrate their critical reflection on the Inside-Out Programme as a distinctive mode of learning across 2 formative and 3 summative pieces which together will total 6,500 words.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 10 weekly 4 hours 40
Outside students training and orientation visit 1 Once (over 2/3 days depending on prison establishment) 16-24 hours 16
Reflective essay writing workshop 1 Once (3 hour workshop) 3 hours 3
Preparation and Reading 136-241 (depending on prison establishment training requirements) 241
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Reflective learning journal – students will complete a weekly journal entry that will be submitted and assessed against set criteria made available to all student Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Reflective Journal Part 1 1500 words 33%
Reflective Journal Part 2 1500 words 33%
Reflective Journal Part 3 1500 words 34%

Formative Assessment:

Students will submit 2 x 1000 word sections of their reflective journal during the course of the module on which they will receive interim feedback to inform production of their final summative piece.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University