Not available in 2022/23
SP471      Half Unit
Issues in Contemporary Policing

This information is for the 2022/23 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 (LSE and Fudan), 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.


Courses in Social Policy will follow the Teaching Model which has been adopted by the Department of Social Policy during the period of the pandemic. This is outlined HERE:

This course will be taught through a combination of either a recorded lecture plus a follow-up Q and A session or a ‘live’ on-line lecture; and classes/seminars of 1-1.5 hours (with size and length of classes/seminars depending on social distancing requirements).

Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

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

Additional Reading:

  • 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%).

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Communication