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Unit information: Understanding Crime, Harm and Society in 2018/19

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Unit name Understanding Crime, Harm and Society
Unit code SPOL10020
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Joanna Large
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Crime and related harms are significant issues in society. This unit introduces students to various forms of crime and harms which are prevalent in different societies including sex crimes and murder, as well as social harms that are less visible but which may have deleterious impact on people's well-being. This includes, for example, political violence, as well as harms in the workplace caused by health and safety breaches and harms in the street caused by pollution. The unit will explore why some crimes are more visible than others in the public and political imagination. Specifically, the unit will examine, in national and international contexts:

  • the nature and prevalence of different crimes and social harms
  • the social distribution of different crimes and social harms in relation to both victimisation and offending
  • why, and how, some crimes are more visible in public and political discussions.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Understand the nature and prevalence of types of crime and harm in the UK and other countries;
  • Explain the role of social factors such as class, gender, ethnicity and age in terms of both the experience of victimisation and offending in relation to different types of crime and harm;
  • Reflect on why, and how, some crimes come to dominate public, political and policy discussions whereas others do not.

Teaching details

Lectures (20 hours) and Seminars (10 hours) plus 1 reading week and 1 revision week.

Assessment Details

The assessments have been developed in order to meet the intended learning outcomes of the unit:

Formative assessment is by:

  • a seminar presentation of a small group project which has been jointly researched, and
  • an essay of 2000 words (maximum)

Summative assessment is by:

  • an essay of 2500 words (maximum)

All assessment is marked against the published marking criteria for that level, as stated in the Programme handbook.

Reading and References

Corteen, K., Morley,S., Taylor, P. & Turner, J. (2016, forthcoming) A companion to crime, harm and victimisation, The Policy Press: Bristol

Davies, P., Francis, P., and Wyatt, T. (2014) Invisible Crimes and Social Harms, London: Palgrave

Hale C, Hayward K, Wahidin A, and Wincup E (eds.) (2013 3rd ed.) Criminology, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Hillyard P, Pantazis C, Tombs S and Gordon D (eds.) (2004) Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously, London: Pluto

Newburn, T. (2013, 2nd ed.) Criminology, Cullompton :Willan