Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice

Module code: CR3014

Module co-ordinators: Dr Jennifer Fleetwood

The connections between gender, offending and victimisation are one of the most marked in criminology. Throughout history, and cross culturally, men commit the overwhelming majority of crimes. Equally, women’s lack of offending behaviour has puzzled researchers.

Patterns of victimisation are profound. Whilst most victims of crime will be men, around one in three women will experience domestic violence. Two women a week are killed by their partners or ex-partners. The gendered dimension of victimisation present challenges to criminal justice.

This module offers an advanced understanding of the connections between gender, crime and criminal justice building on students’ prior knowledge. We explore contemporary questions, such as:

  • Are women becoming more criminal? If so, why? Are they becoming more like men? Has women’s ‘liberation’ resulted in more opportunities to commit crime?
  • What does it mean to treat women offenders/victims ‘equally’? Should women be given ‘special’ treatment because of their gender?
  • Does the ‘chivalry’ effect still exist?
  • How do gender stereotypes affect women as offenders and victims in the criminal justice system?
  • What role should the law play in regulating sex?
  • Can the current criminal justice system offer justice for women victims?

This course is highly recommended for students interested in exploring gender in greater depth.

Topics covered

Feminist theory, methods and politics

  • Criminological theories about the connections between gender and crime
  • Theorising gender alongside class, ethnicity and sexuality
  • Questions of feminist politics: why should we research women at all?

Gender and offending/victimisation

  • Women drug dealers
  • International drug trafficking
  • Domestic violence
  • Masculinities and men’s offending
  • Men who buy sex
  • Child sexual exploitation

Gender and criminal justice

  • How women offenders and victims are treated by the criminal justice system
  • Restorative justice
  • Women working in criminal justice
  • Equality in criminal justice


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


  • Essay, 3,000 words (75%)
  • Short-form assessment, 1,000 words or equivalent (25%)