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Casing the Joint: Introducing Histories of Crime

Learn about historical approaches to the study of crime and punishment, particularly in Australia

1,964 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
This course is part of the program Australian Underworlds: Histories of Crime in Australia, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts. Find out more.

Delve beyond true crime podcasts, books and television series

Crime holds a special place in Australian history, having facilitated colonisation, provided its most celebrated anti-hero in Ned Kelly and been used to sell millions of newspapers, books and movie tickets. Drawing upon a rich array of digital history resources, this course offers you a guided tour of the origins of Australian underworlds and of the study of the history of crime and punishment.

This course will allow you to develop deeper understanding of the underworlds you will encounter in podcasts, televisions series and books. You will develop a sense of the processes which occur when someone becomes entangled with the legal system, and you will know where you can go to find out more about an offender and a crime for yourself.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds What is our attraction to watching or reading about crime? Is it curiosity about the lives of those who dwell in criminal underworlds and how they got there? Are we fascinated by the motive or the crime itself? Do we want to be shocked, consoled, or repulsed by the actions of criminals and their motivations?

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds Join me, associate Professor Nancy Cushing as I introduce the study of the history of crime. In this course, you will learn how to research both well known and more obscure crimes in the broader framework of Australia’s past. Along the way, we will examine how a new generation of historians are using digitized sources to develop fresh insights into the past. We’ll also study the appearance of past offenders in written descriptions and in photographs, and consider what it meant to look like a criminal. This introduction to the history of Australian Underworlds will provide you with a deeper understanding of crime in society and invite you to look beyond the high emotions that make criminal pasts so compelling.

What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to the major trends in the history of crime and punishment in Australia
  • Examination of the different ways in which people engage with, and study, crime
  • How British law was adapted to New South Wales and other Australian colonies
  • The impact of digitisation and online sources on the study of crime

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate accessing digitised primary sources on the history of crime
  • Evaluate information, ideas, and arguments about the history of crime
  • Reflect on society's fascination with past crime
  • Identify the methods used to record the appearance of those taken into custody

Who is the course for?

Recommended for learners age 15+

This course is for anyone interested in history, criminal law, true crime and crime fiction. It would also suit those who are interested in researching crimes and criminal offenders.

Who will you learn with?

I am an Associate Professor of History at the University of Newcastle and have been teaching Australian history since 1992. I am looking forward to taking our course to the online world.

Who developed the course?

The University of Newcastle Australia

The University of Newcastle is a world-class university distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence. Ranked in Australia’s Top 10 universities, and 197th in the world (QS rankings, 2021).

  • Established

  • Location

    Newcastle, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 200Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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This course is part of the program Australian Underworlds: Histories of Crime in Australia, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts.

Crime holds a special place in Australian history.

Drawing upon innovative digital history resources, this program explores the back stories of Australia’s best known crimes and criminals.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

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