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  • The University of Sheffield

Crime, Justice and Society

Explore the role of the state and criminal justice interventions in producing safe and just societies

31,869 enrolled on this course

Crime, Justice and Society
  • Duration

    7 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Crime and criminal justice are vast and fascinating issues that highlight the complexity of defining and solving social problems.

What traditional and innovative responses to crime and victimisation work? Why do people stop offending? Which interventions are seen by the community as being fair, lawful and effective?

The age of austerity in which we currently find ourselves has made these issues all the more significant and politically sensitive.

Join us as we explore the criminal justice system, from crime to desistance

Through this free online course you’ll develop an understanding of, and critical perspective on, the role of the state in the regulation of criminal behaviour and the key parts played by those involved in the criminal justice system.

Together, we’ll explore key themes of classic criminological research, contemporary debates on criminal justice institutions and processes, and international developments in policy and practice, focusing in particular on:

  • crime and criminal justice;
  • policing;
  • victims and victim support;
  • restorative justice;
  • prisons and places of confinement;
  • community sanctions and measures;
  • and desistance.

​Learn with criminal justice academics and professionals

Over seven weeks, you’ll learn with a team of specialists from the Centre for Criminological Research in the School of Law at the University of Sheffield.

​As well as academics, we’ll talk to those with firsthand experience of the criminal justice system, including probation officers, former prisoners and criminal lawyers. We’ll visit the police service in situ, witness a victim mediation session and even travel to Italy to learn about Cesare Lombroso, the father of modern criminology.

You’ll be invited to share your experiences and debate the key issues with other learners. What should the role of the police be? What are victims’ experiences of criminal justice and how can we support victims? Are there alternative responses to crime instead of prosecution and conviction?

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds The study of crime and how we respond to it forces us to ask fundamental questions about order and morality in society, and how we define and solve complex social problems. Which human behaviours are defined as crimes? Which citizens are labelled as criminals and brought to justice? Are criminal justice interventions fairly distributed across individuals in social groups? There are few policy areas that are underpinned by more myths and misconceptions or generate more heated debates. One important task of criminology is to untangle stereotype from reality, fact from fiction. I’m Dr Matthew Bacon, a lecturer in criminology in The School of Law of The University of Sheffield.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds During this course you’ll learn with a team of experts from The Centre for Criminological Research here at Sheffield, which is one of the UK’s original four criminological centres for excellence and has over 30 years of active research experience. You’ll explore and be asked to think critically about the role of the state in the regulation of potential, alleged and actual criminal behaviour, and the key parts played by a range of actors involved in the criminal justice system.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds We will invite you to share your experiences and join us in debating the key issues with other learners. The issues we discuss will touch on a range of disciplines, including sociology, economics, history, law, psychology, philosophy, geography and ethics, as well as on people’s fears, moralities and politics. Are criminal justice policies based on research rather than rhetoric, spin and sound bites? What traditional and innovative responses to crime and victimisation work? Why do people start and stop offending? The age of austerity in which we currently find ourselves in in the UK has made these questions all the more significant and politically sensitive.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 seconds Criminal justice has taken its share of the financial cuts imposed by central government and will continue to face challenges for years to come. It is, therefore, imperative to understand the underlying causes of crime and how best to respond to them with dwindling public resources. As well as academics, we’ll talk to those first-hand experience of the criminal justice system including probation officers, former prisoners and criminal lawyers. We’ll visit the police service in situ, witness a victim offender mediation session, and even travel to Italy to learn about Cesare Lombroso, the controversial figure often cited as the father of modern criminology. No society will ever be crime free and criminal justice comes at a price.

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 seconds The knowledge that you gain from this course may inspire you to continue your studies with us on one of our undergraduate or postgraduate degree programmes, or pursue a career in criminal justice or even academia. Or it may simply give you the knowledge to better understand the complex and contested role of the state in criminal justice interventions in producing safety and just societies. Join us as we begin our study of crime, justice, and society.

Who is the course for?

This is an introductory course and anyone can enjoy it without prior knowledge or experience of the subject. A basic knowledge of criminal justice will be helpful but is not essential. The course will focus on criminal justice in England and Wales, but is designed so that learners from any country can participate.

The course will be useful for those considering an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the fields of criminology or criminal justice.

Who will you learn with?

Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Law, University of Sheffield. Researcher of policing, drug control policy and the informal economy.

Who developed the course?

The University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

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