Crime and the Media

Module code: CR2010

Module co-ordinator: Dr Rob Mawby

Crime is newsworthy. It is a constant feature in news coverage on television, on the radio, on the internet and in newspapers. It is a popular topic for television drama, documentaries, reality programmes, films and novels. Yet the complex relationship between crime and the media is often over-simplified in popular debate, around fear of crime, moral panics, police effectiveness and the state of prisons.

In this module we will explore this complex relationship by providing an introduction to, and analysis of, the debates, literature and research relating to ‘crime and the media’. We will consider the development of the media, we will question why crime and criminal justice issues are the subject of substantial media coverage and we will examine historical and contemporary media coverage of crime and criminal justice. This will include analysis of fictional, factual and ‘factional’ media images of criminal justice issues, crimes, victims, offenders and criminal justice agencies.

This module does not require any prior, specialist knowledge of media theory, methods or analytical techniques: these will be introduced using practical exercises in the first sessions. However, you must be prepared to engage with the topics and you will need to read a selection of texts and undertake basic fact-finding on the area of weekly focus.

Topics covered

  • Methods of studying crime and criminal justice through the media
  • Media representations of policing
  • Moral panics
  • Media myths, monsters and serial killers


  • 9 two-hour lectures
  • 8 one-hour seminars


  • Essay, 3,000 words (85%)
  • Individual presentation (15%)