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Module SXY-3007:
Policing, Security & The State

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Bethan Loftus

Overall aims and purpose

This module seeks to demonstrate a critical insight into policing and society. The course will discuss the history and development of policing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, including the public police, private policing and community policing. The module will also examine police governance and accountability associated with policing styles in Britain in the 21st century. It will explore the diffusion of policing practices across different institutions and organizations in modern society as well as physical structures in society. The module will engage with key concepts of contemporary policing such at pluralisation, privatisation, diversification, internationalisation, and reflect on the increasing demands on the on the police in times of austerity.


  1. To introduce students to the theoretical, conceptual, and practical issues in the study of policing and society
  2. To critically explore and investigate the origins, historical development and contemporary transformation of policing in England and Wales
  3. To critically analyse the different interpretations and perspectives on policing and society
  4. To examine and consider the impact of social divisions and inequalities on the practices of policing
  5. To explore and investigate the major developments in contemporary policing and law enforcement
  6. To provide students with a critical understanding of empirical research as applied to policing and society

Course content

• Introduction: The nature and functions of policing

• Historical developments of modern policing in England and Wales

• Police Occupational Sub-Cultures

• Police Governance and Accountability

• Covert and Undercover Policing

• Commodification of policing

• Transnational and cross border policing

• Policing different communities

• Structures of security – surveillance and architecture

• The Future of Policing?

Assessment Criteria


BE ABLE TO: To describe the contemporary debates on policing and explain some of the main theoretical perspectives on policing and appreciate the significance of this to the processes of criminal justice.


BE ABLE TO: Examine and evaluate theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues, examine contemporary policing with relation to ‘race,’ gender, crime and law; read and evaluate a range of appropriate literature and material, and incorporate personal insights and observations.


BE ABLE TO: Critically analyze key theoretical and conceptual issues, and make connections between criminology and other disciplines, for e.g. history and law to the study of policing and society, as well as present material in a way that serves to support the arguments being advanced and to bring different/original modes of thought to this module.

Learning outcomes

  1. Ability to appreciate the real fragmented, global context of contemporary policing.

  2. Ability to appreciate the complex nature of the police role and functions, and the factors that influence police effectiveness and performance.

  3. Ability to discuss contexts in which policing takes place and the debates around topics such as the existence and influence of police cultures on routine policing and the complex nature of police accountability.

  4. Ability to identify and critically evaluate theoretical perspectives on policing.

  5. Ability to research a topic on policing and present findings in a critical manner.

  6. Ability to explore a range of historical, political and contemporary issues relating to policing and policing policy.

  7. Ability to assess complex policing issues from a variety of viewpoints.

  8. Ability to critically evaluate developments in governance, risk and globalisation and their relations to modern policing and the delivery of security and the major developments and debates surrounding modern policing.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Article Review 40
Essay 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Weekly lectures/workshops, 1 x 2 hours.

Private study

Private Study – reading time, preparing and taking assessments.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Capacity to identify and describe the causes and consequences of social order and change in specific contexts.
  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • Appreciate a range of research designs and strategies and how they may be applied to sociological investigations.
  • Competence to carry out a piece of sociological research using either primary or secondary data, or both.
  • Undertake either on their own, or in collaboration with others, investigations of social questions, issues and problems, using statistical and other data derived from research publications.
  • The ability to identify criminological problems, formulate questions and investigate them
  • Competence in using criminological theory and concepts to understand crime, victimisation, responses to crime and deviance; and representations of crime, victimisation, and responses to these, as presented in the traditional and new media and official reports
  • The capacity to analyse, assess and communicate empirical information about crime, victimisation, responses to crime and deviance, and representations of crime
  • The ability to recognise a range of ethical problems associated with research and to take action in accordance with the guidelines of ethical practice developed by the British Society of Criminology and cognate professional bodies
  • The ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems; and the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.
  • representations of victimisation, crime and deviance, and of the main agents and institutions which respond to crime and deviance, as found in the mass media, new media, in official reports and in public opinion
  • awareness of how political and cultural values - including the student's own have an impact on responses to and rival interpretations of safety and security, crime
  • control, policing, criminal and youth justice, sentencing, and alternative responses
  • theoretical and empirical relationships between power, crime and social change, and the impact of globalisation
  • how to use empirical evidence - both quantitative and qualitative - about the distribution of crime, deviance, offending and victimisation of all kinds to explore
  • relationships between these and social divisions and social change.
  • alternative theoretical approaches within criminology, and contemporary debates about the content and scope of criminology
  • how crime, deviance and victimisation are socially and legally constructed the different sources of information about crime and victimisation, both quantitative and qualitative, and how they are produced - including their location in particular legal, political, social and ideological frameworks - and how they can be interpreted
  • trends in crime, harm and victimisation
  • different forms of crime and their social organisation
  • different theoretical and empirical approaches to the study, analysis and explanation of crime, deviance, harm and victimisation
  • relationships of crime, deviance and offending, and victimisation to social divisions such as: age, gender, sexuality, social class, race, ethnicity and religious faith
  • the development, role, organisation and governance of efforts to reduce and prevent crime, deviance and harm, and to ensure personal and public safety and security in different locations; the role of the state and non-governmental agencies
  • the effectiveness of such measures, and human rights issues in relation to preventive and pre-emptive measures
  • the social and historical development of the main institutions involved in crime control in different locations
  • the philosophy and politics of criminalisation, victimisation, criminal justice and modes of punishment
  • the use of discretion in relation to justice processes, including issues of discrimination and diversity
  • governance of criminal and youth justice, and other crime control processes


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: