Introduction to the Criminal Justice System

Module code: CR1002

Module co-ordinator: Gina Fox

  • How do we respond to acts of crime?
  • How do we ensure justice for the accused and for the victims?
  • Should the punishment fit the crime?
  • What can be done to help to rehabilitate offenders?

These are key questions within the subject of criminology. The answers to these questions might seem fairly simple or straightforward, though they are actually anything but. The process of criminal justice has a deep history and there are various models that influence the way in which we respond to acts of offending. The individual agencies (police, probation, courts, prison and so forth) who make up the criminal justice system have also evolved over time and their roles and functions have changed accordingly.

In this module we will explore these historical developments to gain an understanding of the way that criminal justice operates in England and Wales. We will also consider how, in more recent times, society has become more concerned with the rights and needs of victims, minority ethnic groups, youth crime, civil liberties and human rights, miscarriages of justice and the way that we respond to ‘new’ forms of offending such as cybercrime. 

You will have the opportunity to visit relevant institutions - including a prison - and through volunteering opportunities you will be able to gain ‘hands-on’ experience of criminal justice.

Topics covered

  • The Police
  • Prisons and punishment
  • Youth justice
  • Minority ethnic communities and the criminal justice system
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Victims and restorative justice


  • 18 one-hour lectures
  • 8 one-hour seminars


  • Assignment, 4,000 words (100%)