Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code SOCI254
Coordinator Dr KA Roscoe
Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2022-23 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 15


- To provide a broad overview of the historical, theoretical and comparative foundations of punishment and imprisonment nationally and internationally.

- To examine the experiences and outcomes of imprisonment for identifiable groups of prisoners including: children and young people; women; black and minoritised people; older people.

- To introduce a range of key debates and controversies surrounding the questions of punishment, penality and prisons in ‘modern’ societies and to subject them to social scientific interrogation.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) An understanding of the trajectory of state policy responses in respect of punishment, penality and prisons (particularly in the UK) from the early nineteenth century to the present.

(LO2) An ability to critically analyse the competing theoretical rationales for the practices of modern punishment, penality and imprisonment including: constructions of moral responsibility; deterrence; retribution; rehabilitation; reform; deserts; proportionality; incapacitation.

(LO3) A familiarity with the contemporary politics of imprisonment and comparative penal regimes.

(LO4) A grasp of the impact of imprisonment on prisoners in general and specific groups of prisoners in particular.

(LO5) A capacity to critically assess the legitimacy of prisons together with alternative, penal reductionist and abolitionist perspectives.

(S1) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis

(S2) Critical thinking and problem solving - Synthesis

(S3) Information skills - Critical reading

(S4) Information skills - Information accessing:[Locating relevant information] [Identifying and evaluating information sources]

(S5) Skills in using technology - Information accessing

(S6) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Academic writing (inc. referencing skills)



Part One: Contextualising Punishment, Penality and Prisons

1. Introduction: The punitive obsession.

2. ‘Perfecting’ the ‘modern’ prison: Historicising penal reform and institutional punishment.

3. The power to punish: Theorising penality and imprisonment.

4. Global imprisonment: Comparative analyses of punishment and penality.

Part Two: ‘In the Belly of the Beast’: The Experiences and ‘Outcomes’ of Imprisonment

5. In the ‘care’ of the state: Child and youth imprisonment.

6. Gendered (in)justice: Women, punishment and prisons.

7. ‘Loosen the shackles’: ‘Race’, the racialisation of punishment and racism in prisons.

8. ‘Senior citizens’: Growing old in prisons.

Part Three: Penal Politics, Controversies and Contestation

9. Punishment for profit: Private prisons and public concerns.

10. The crisis of legiti macy: ‘Alternatives’, reductionism and abolitionism.

11. A just measure of pain?

12. Conclusion: Module overview, revision and assignment preparation guidance

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Lecture
Description: Hybrid - Face to face
Attendance Recorded: Not yet decided
Notes: The primary purpose of lectures is to provide students with a broad introduction to key areas and debates.

Teaching Method 2 - Seminar
Description: Face to face synchronous seminars, safety permitting
Attendance Recorded: Not yet decided
Notes: Seminars provide opportunities to explore particular issues and debates in greater detail in a way that supplements and builds upon the lectures. Seminars also allow for greater levels of student participation and such participation will be actively encouraged throughout the module.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 12


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 127


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Assessment 1 2000 word essay There is a resit opportunity. Non-standard penalty applies for late submission - Assessment Schedule (When) :Second Semester    100       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.