PO3CAP-Crime and Punishment:Theoretical Approaches

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: PP3CAP Philosophy of Crime and Punishment
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Patrick Tomlin

Email: p.r.tomlin@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module will introduce students to a number of theoretical controversies surrounding the institutions of criminal law, the criminal trial and punishment. Students will be expected to engage with philosophical debates about the justifications for state punishment and what principles should guide and limit our use of this practice. They will then be in a position to evaluate current practice.

- To introduce students to theoretical debates about punishment and its proper use(s).
- To equip students to construct their own philosophically well-informed arguments about punishment and its
proper use(s).
- To enable and encourage students to think critically about our current uses of the criminal law and punishment.
- To give students an understanding of the complexity and difficulties of the criminal law.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Knowledge of the major theories of punishment, criminalization, criminal trial, criminal responsibility and fair sentencing. Ability to develop philosophically sophisticated responses to the difficult questions raised by our criminal and punitive institutions.

Additional outcomes:
Analytical, organisational, writing and presentation skills: Ability to select and assess quality materials on assigned topics; ability to organise and distil the essence of large amounts of information on contested issues, and critically discuss it in a group setting; ability to understand the different sides of an argument, develop an independent view on debated issues, and support it effectively.

Outline content:
Topics will include:

1.Introduction: The Politics of Crime and Punishment.
2.Theories of Punishment 1: Retributivism.
3.Theories of Punishment 2: Alternatives to Retributivism.
4.Sentencing 1: Proportionality
5.Criminalization 1: Politics, Law and Morality
6.Criminalization 2: The Harm Principle and its alternatives
7.Criminal Responsibility
8.Sentencing 2: Moral Luck - Attempts vs. Completed Crimes
9.Defences, justifications, excuses
10.Alternatives to Punishment

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A weekly seminar; independent study; student presentations and directed discussions in weekly seminars; individual consultations with lecturer as needed.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 12 8
Guided independent study 88 92
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write 2 x 3,500 word assignments.

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credits. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one 3,500 word essay in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Weekly seminar presentations by students.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    No examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment takes place in August.

    Coursework which already bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more will be carried forward.

    Students who are permitted to resit the module can resubmit coursework by 1st August which must be emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, and submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 6 April 2017

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