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Module SXY-4020:
Comparative & Intl Crim Just

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

Comparative and International Criminal Justice, offers critical reflection on the practice of studying criminal justice agencies and institutions comparatively. In analysing national, comparative, and international research on the police, the criminal courts and the penal system, students will be alerted to the numerous issues that influence the practice and experience of criminal justice and, in turn, research of criminal justice, including the method, the location, politics and ethics, as well as the relations and interactions between the researcher and the researched. The module will also considers some general issues relating to 'ordinary' victims of crime in national and international criminal justice systems.

Course content

• The promise and problems of Understanding Criminal Justice Comparatively • Review of core aspects of criminal justice with reference to England and Wales • Doing criminal justice differently • Punishment and penal policy across the globe • Victims, victimisation, and criminal justice • Models of criminal justice and their applicability • Forms of international criminal justice – the ICC • Alternative forms of justice – Truths Commissions

Assessment Criteria


Students should be able to describe, evaluate and analyse the substantive topic/s and present written work that is generally comprehensible and focuses on the question asked; they should show a basic understanding of comparative research and its limitations.


Excellent students should be able to engage in critical analysis of a wide and complex range of material and summarise the arguments with accuracy; relate an understanding of key concepts to perspectives within and beyond the discipline of criminology and criminal justice; excellent students should present work of a high level of accuracy and fluency, and shows an excellent understanding of comparative research and its limitations.


Good students should be able to explain with accuracy and critically discuss the appropriate theoretical and empirical issues of the substantive topic/s and locate these within a wider political context; good students should show evidence of consulting a range of complex material and a good understanding of comparative research and its limitations.

Learning outcomes

  1. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of comparative research and its limitations.

  2. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of different national and cultural practices in relation to sentencing and penal policy.

  3. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of different prosecution and court practices in different nations.

  4. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of different forms of policing in different nations as well as international police co-operation and policing structures.

  5. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of forms of international criminal justice with an emphasis on the practices of, and debates surrounding, the International Criminal Court.

  6. Gain a systematic and critical understanding of the impact of victimology on contemporary forms of criminal justice.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Coursework 50
word essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lecture/workshop, 1x 2hours for 12 weeks.

Private study

Private study


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • 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

  • Be able to recognize how social data and sociological knowledge apply to questions of public policy.
  • Use the theories and concepts of social policy and other social sciences to analyse policy problems and issues
  • Analyse and discuss social policy and related issues distinguishing between normative and empirical questions
  • 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 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.
  • the main forms of sentence and alternatives; the governance, roles and structure of the agencies involved; and offenders' experiences of adjudication and sentence
  • 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
  • to offending
  • how to use empirical evidence - both quantitative and qualitative - about the distribution of crime, deviance, offending and victimisation of all kinds to explore
  • the development of criminology as a distinct area of study and inquiry, and its multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature
  • 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
  • theoretical and empirical relationships between power, crime and social change, and the impact of globalisation
  • 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
  • the development of penal and alternative policies in different locations and their relationship to social change


Reading list

Balint, J. (2012). Genocide, State Crime and the Law. Abingdon: Routledge. Cavadino, M., & Dignan, J. (2006). Penal Systems: A Comparative Approach. London: Sage. Dignan, J. (2005). Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill. Goodey, J. (2005). Victims and Victimology: research, policy and practice. New York: Pearson. Hudson, B. (2003). Justice and the Risk Society. London: Sage. Kalunta-Crumpton, A. & Agozino, B. (Eds.) (2004). Pan-African Issues in Crime and Justice. Aldershot: Ashgate. Lacey, N., & Zedner, L. (1995). Discourses of community in criminal justice. Journal of Law and Society, 22(3), 301-325. Maguire, M., Morgan, R. & Reiner, R. (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Muncie, J., & Goldson, B. (Eds.). (2006). Comparative Youth Justice. London: Sage. Pakes, F. (2019). Comparative Criminal Justice. 4th edition. Abingdon: Routledge. Shoham, S. (2010). International Handbook of Victimology. Hoboken: CRC Press. Zernova, M. (2008). Restorative justice: Ideals and Realities. Farnham: Ashgate.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: