Not available in 2020/21
SP471      Half Unit
Issues in Contemporary Policing

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tim Newburn OLD 2.40a


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations) and MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.

While not specifically counting towards a specialism on the LLM, this course would complement the following specialisms: Criminology and Criminal Justice, Legal Theory and Public Law.      


Some familiarity with sociology and/or criminology would be an advantage, but is not a formal prerequisite. Anyone unfamiliar with criminology can find a full introduction to the subject in: Newburn, T. (2017) Criminology, London: Routledge, 3rd Edition

Course content

The flourishing sub-discipline of ‘police studies’ reflects the increasing centrality of policing in political debate and popular culture, and as a major concern of government policy. This course aims to familiarise students with the formidable volume of research knowledge that has now been built up.  The course will enable students to understand the development and functioning of police organisations as well as providing them with an understanding of some of the key issues and debates affecting contemporary policing. The topics covered will include: the role and purposes of policing; the media and policing; governance and legitimacy; integrity and corruption; and policing and (in)equality.



15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to write and submit two pieces of formative coursework. The first will be an essay outline - in effect an outline of a answer to a potential examination question, including a full introductory paragraph. The second will be a written assessment of a published book review - as the basis for the summative work to come. 

Indicative reading

Bittner, E. (1990) Florence Nightingale in pursuit of Willie Sutton, in Aspects of Police Work, Boston: Northeastern University Press

Bowling,B., Phillips,C. and Parmar,A. (2008) ‘Policing ethnic minority communities’ in Newburn, T. (ed) Handbook of Policing, Cullompton: Willan

Dick, M., Silvestri, M. and Westmarland, L. (2013) Women police; potential and possibilities for police, in J.Brown (ed.) The Future of Policing London: Routledge

Greer, C. and R.Reiner (2012): 'Mediated Mayhem' in M.Maguire et al The Oxford Handbook of Criminology Oxford University Press

Newburn, T. (ed) (2008) Handbook of Policing, Second Edition, Cullompton: Willan

Newburn, T. (ed) (2004) Policing: Key Readings, Cullompton: Willan

Reiner, R. (2010) The Politics of the Police, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Reiner, R. (2013) Who Governs? Criminology and Criminal Justice 13/2: 161-180 

Silver, A. (1967) ‘The demand for order in civil society’, in D.J. Bordua (ed) The Police: Six Sociological Essays, New York: Wiley

Banton, M. (1964) The policeman in the community, London: Tavistock

Knuttson, J. and Tompson, L. (2017) Advances in Evidence-based Policing, London: Routledge

Lum, C. and Koper, C. (2017) Evidence-based policing: Translating theory into practice, New York: OUP

Monkkonen, E. (1982) From cop history to social history: The significance of police in American history, Journal of Social History, 15, 575-91

Newburn, T. (1999) Understanding and preventing police corruption, London: Home Office

Reuss-Ianni, E. and Reuss-Ianni, F. (1983) Street cops and management cops: the two cultures of policing, in Punch, M. (ed) Control in the Police Organization, Cambridge: MIT Press

Skolnick, J. (1994) A Sketch of the policeman’s working personality, in Justice Without Trial, New York: Wiley

Styles, J. (1987) The emergence of the police - explaining police reform in eighteenth and nineteenth century England, British Journal of Criminology, 27, 1, 15-22

Zimring, F. (2017) When Police Kill, New York: OUP



Essay (80%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Project (20%, 1000 words) in the MT.

The summative assessment will comprise a 3,000 essay involving a critical assessment of a minimum of two substantive issues covered in the course (80%), and a 1,000 word book review (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: 18

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Communication