PP3CAP-Philosophy of Crime and Punishment

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Tebbit

Email: m.w.tebbit@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

To introduce students to the philosophical problems arising from an examination of some of the key principles underlying English criminal law. To enable them to look critically at the assumptions about individual responsibility, insanity and punishment as they are dealt with by contemporary criminal law.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module the students will be able to look critically at different interpretations of the function of criminal law and understand the contemporary controversies surrounding proposals for reform. They will understand the relevance of theory to practice, through the application of theory to cases. Oral skills will be improved by participation in lecture/seminars. Group interaction will be encouraged in all the classes.

Additional outcomes:
Students will see how the philosophy of crime and punishment relates to central themes in the history of western philosophy, and their attention will be drawn in particular to the connections with moral and political philosophy. In assessing the merits of various theories of law, students will also develop the kind of critical skills appropriate to the philosophy degree as a whole.

Outline content:
This module will concentrate on the central moral and philosophical problems created by modern criminal law as it applies to the individual. Setting out from an examination of the proper function of the criminal law in relation to harm and wrongdoing, we will move through a critical assessment of how the law thinks about and deals with individual responsibility. Topics covered will include the defences of necessity and duress, the difference between negligence and recklessness, the shifting boundaries between murder and manslaughter , and the problems raised by mental illness and insanity. A continual critical analysis of the principal theories of punishment will be a prominent feature.

Sample Reading List
Tebbit, M. (2005) Philosophy of Law: An Introduction 2nd Edition (Routledge) [Course text]
Duff, R.A. (1990) Intention, Agency and Criminal Liability: Philosophy of Action & the Criminal
Law, Oxford: Blackwell.
Hart, H.L.A. (1968) Punishment and Responsibility, Oxford: Clarendon.
Katz, L. (1987) Bad Acts and Guilty Minds: Conundrums of the Criminal Law, Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Lacey, N. (1988) State Punishment, London and. New York: Routledge.
Norrie, A. (1993) Crime, Reason and History: A Critical Introduction to Criminal Law, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
Robinson, D.N. (1996) Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: the Insanity Defence from Antiquity to the Present, Cambridge Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.
Walker, N. (1991) Why Punish? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module is taught by lectures, seminars and essay supervisions. Lectures and seminars tend to merge into each other, as questions and discussion are encouraged throughout. In supervisions, students present arguments from their essays for group discussion. Weekly handouts and a full reading-list with wide choice of essay questions are supplied.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 30

Other information on summative assessment:
There will be 2 essays of 2000-2500 words, worth a total of 30% of the final mark.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard and in hard copy to the Philosophy office.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener 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:
    There will be a 2-hour examination, worth a total 70% of the final mark, in which you will be required to answer 2 questions from a list of 6 within 2 hours.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August by written examination only.

    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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