CR4015 - The Criminal Justice System 1

What will I learn on this module?

The Criminal Justice System (CJS) comprises those institutions and agencies that are collectively responsible for managing a state’s response to crime and disorder. This module introduces the key agencies of the CJS in England and Wales. The aim is to understand the historical development of the CJS, what the agencies of the CJS do, and the constraints that they operate under. The focus will be on the history, role and function of the police service, prosecutors, courts, prisons, parole, youth justice, and the probation service. For example, students will learn about the early models of policing in Britain and its former colonies and the historical developments that led to the birth of the modern police force, before focusing on the role and function of the police and how the police role is perceived in the media and in popular imagination. Similarly, students will explore the role and emergence of the prison estate in England and Wales, considering how prisons have been designed and managed over time, the impact on prisoners and offenders of policy changes over the last 50 years, and how news about the state of prisons is communicated to the ‘outside’ world. Taking us up to the present day, the module will provide students with a firm basis to go on to explore the modern day CJS in global and comparative context in the follow-up Level 5 module The Criminal Justice System 2.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will be delivered using a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures are used to convey core theoretical and substantive material, while seminars are designed to reinforce this knowledge via student-led discussions and additional case study materials. You will also be required to do some directed and independent study. Directed study generally takes the form of preparation for seminars (e.g. reading academic material or preparing written work) so that you can engage in informed discussions with your seminar group. Independent learning generally involves one or more of the following activities: consolidating your lecture and seminar material; engaging in further reading and study; and revising/preparing for the module assessments.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your learning on the module will provide you the basic knowledge of the criminal justice system in preparation for studying some parts of it in more detail in later modules. This is a team-taught module, with two or three staff members available to support you via lectures, seminars, scheduled tutorial hours and via email and the electronic learning portal. There is also substantial support from your fellow students during seminars and outside of class. Your academic development will be facilitated through engagement with the newly emerging academic literature and by debating with your peers and academic tutors about your understanding of the literature.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Awareness of the historical development of different elements of the criminal justice system, showing how their development reflects different theories and perspectives and changing social, economic and political contexts.
2. Awareness of the functions and challenges facing key criminal justice agencies.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
1. Independent study skills, including the ability to search, critically read, synthesise and analyse a range of sources of information.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. Sufficient knowledge and confidence to form, present and defend a view on key criminal justice debates.

How will I be assessed?

There will be two elements to the summative assessment on this module:

1. A 2,000-word essay critically analysing the academic literature on the historical development, role and function of a key criminal justice agency in England and Wales (70%).

2. Online Assessment to test knowledge and awareness of criminal justice agencies and other module content. There will be 1 x 40-question online multiple-choice test (30%).

Both assessments address all MLOs.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code C8M9

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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