LL284      Half Unit
Topics in Sentencing and Criminal Justice

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Meredith Rossner


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available to General Course students.

Course content


In recent years sentencing and criminal justice issues have been matters of considerable debate and conflict amongst the public and politicians alike. This half unit course is liable, therefore, to alter year by year, with a focus on recent issues and cases.  The course examines both the climate in which criminal justice operates and the justifications for punishment, and looks at how courts practically carry out their sentencing function in the context of persistent statutory reform. The various custodial and non-custodial measures available are examined and their effectiveness assessed, including new innovations such as restorative justice. Finally, we take a broader look at debates within policing, prison, and sentencing reform with a particular focus on how social inequality, ethnicity, gender, and migration contour these debates. 


  • The context of sentencing and the justifications for punishment
  • Sentencing - theory, practice and possibilities for reform
  • Custody - containment, treatment, mandatory life sentences
  • Community based penalties - their scope and future
  • Restorative justice and penal abolition
  • Police and the community
  • ‘Border criminology’ and the criminalisation of migration.
  • Race, ethnicities, gender and criminal justice practice


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Week six is a 'reading and project' work week.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 presentation in the LT.

Indicative reading

A list will be supplied at the beginning of the term together with key questions to be addressed in class. The recommended text for the course is A. Ashworth (2015) Sentencing and Criminal Justice. (6th edition) Cambridge University Press.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2016/17: 20

Average class size 2016/17: 20

Capped 2016/17: Yes (25)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills