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Module SXY-3032:
Power, Crime & Punishment

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Martina Feilzer

Overall aims and purpose

Power relations play a critical role in relation to crime, criminalisation, and punitive crime control, three areas that form the core concerns of criminological enquiry. The aim of this module is to enable students to glean a deeper understanding of this critical role. This will be achieved by focusing on discrete areas of inquiry that illustrate the power relations that underpin the state’s management of crime. This module aims to provide the key theoretical concerns and texts on power relationships between individuals, organisations and the state, especially within the framework of crime, violence, criminal justice and punishment.

Course content

Part One: State crimes - From ghettos to genocide: how does criminology and criminal justice respond when it is those in power, in particular, the State who offends? How do we define crime, justice and victimisation in this context? (3 weeks)

Part Two: Interpersonal crimes - Many crimes of power take place at an interpersonal level: examples may include ‘honour’- based violence and coercion; homophobic hate crimes; and gender violence in intimate relationships. How do social and criminal justice systems respond to these forms of crime? (3 weeks)

Part Three: Institutional power - Prisons represent institutional power at both physical and symbolic levels. Power may take many forms and examples include: prisons and the construction of masculinities and femininities; political power in prisons, using the example of Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’. (5 weeks)

Learning outcomes

  1. Apply an understanding of crime and power to broader frameworks, e.g. political and economic.

  2. Understand what is meant by power relations between and amongst individuals, organisations and the State in the context of crime, deviance and criminal justice

  3. Understand the different ways in which power can be used and abused.

  4. Acquire knowledge of the mechanisms that help to protect individuals and organisations from abuses of power.

  5. Appreciate the diverse ways in which the application of power is legitimised or criminalised

  6. Appreciate the centrality of philosophical/moral theorizing for understanding, and gaining critical insight into, contemporary practices of punitive control.

  7. Apply philosophical/moral perspectives to a range of contemporary practices of punitive control.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Powerpoint presentation
  1. PowerPoint presentation of 15 slides +/- 10% - presentation for electronic submission only. No class presentation required

Essay, 3,000 words, +/-10% on a choice of set essay questions


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: