Prisons, Probation and Punishment

Module code: CR2008

Module co-ordinator: Professor Carol Hedderman

Punishment is one of the most enduring issues in Criminology. The nature of punishment has varied throughout history and across the globe, from approaches which serve to deprive people of their liberty and any sense of humanity, to approaches which are designed to inflict physical harm (or even death) upon the guilty offender - and approaches which are designed to restore the guilty person to being a full and active member of society.

This topic is of central importance to Criminology as it reflects our notion of justice, how we want to respond to people who have broken the law and what outcomes we want to achieve from this response. In this module we will examine in detail two of the most important institutions in the criminal justice system: prisons and probation. We will explore their historical development, their aims and objectives and some contemporary challenges (including privatisation, human rights and desistance from crime).

Topics covered

  • History of punishment
  • Justifying punishment
  • Justice for women and young people
  • Life in prison
  • Managing prisons
  • Technology and punishment
  • Drug using offenders in prison
  • Controversial issues in prison
  • Media and prisons
  • The future of prisons
  • The future of probation
  • Desistance from crime


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


  • Assignment, 2,500 words (50%)
  • Exam, two hours (50%)