Not available in 2020/21
SP173      Half Unit
Politics and Crime

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tim Newburn OLD.2.40A


This course is available on the BSc in Criminology, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course introduces students to the politicised nature of crime and criminal justice. The course content will cover the following subjects:

  • The rise of crime as a subject of party politics
  • The idea of populist punitiveness
  • Willie Horton and the American Presidency
  • Politics and punishment in comparative perspective
  • Politics and the war on drugs
  • Neoliberalism and the rise of privatised criminal justice
  • The politics of policing
  • The particular politics of juvenile crime
  • Crime, politics and the media
  • Politics, human rights and the death penalty


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise and 1 presentation in the MT.

Using media reports, students will put together:

A draft poster (as preparation for the later summative assessment) illustrating how politics affects crime (and vice-versa). 

A short presentation, which they willl give in class, explaining their findings.

Indicative reading

Beckett, K. and Sasson, T. (2004) The Politics of Injustice: Crime and Punishment in America, 2nd ed, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control, Oxford: OUP

Morgan, R. and Smith, D. (2017) Delivering more with less: Austerity and the politics of law and order, in Liebling, A. et al, (eds) Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford: OUP

Scheingold, G. (1984) The Politics of Law and Order: Street crime and public policy, New York: Longman

Tonry, M. (2013) Evidence, ideology and politics in the making of American criminal justice policy, in Tonry, M. (ed) Crime and Justice in America 1975-2025, Chicago: University of Chicago Press


Project (60%, 1500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) and presentation (20%) in the MT.

There will be three forms of summative assessment:

Student projects - researching and assessing one well-known historical example of the interaction of politics and crime - will form 60% of the overall mark.

In addition, students will be required to produce a poster summarising their case study (20%) and also do a short presentation in which they present the findings summarised on the case study poster (20%).

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication