Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWelcome to the course ‘From Crime to Punishment: An Introduction to Criminal Justice’. Over the next four weeks, we are going to look at a number of key aspects of the criminal justice process. We will think about the function of policing, and the investigation of alleged criminal offences; we will look at the decision to prosecute – to take an allegation to court; we will look at the trial process, which seeks to determine whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty of an offence; and we will look at what happens after somebody is convicted – including the process of sentencing, and what sentencing is supposed to achieve. To help with this, we are going to track an imaginary case through the system.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsThis will provide us with a context for thinking about the different institutions and processes we encounter. You will start to get familiar with the case later in this week’s learning. Throughout the course, you will have the chance to discuss your ideas with your colleagues, and to check your knowledge of some of the issues by making use of the short quizzes and tests. But before we embark on that journey, let’s note that the idea of criminal justice presupposes that we have some idea of what ‘crime’ is. And that is an interesting issue in itself, so let’s start there …

Welcome to the course 'From Crime to Punishment'

Welcome to our course, From Crime to Punishment.

Over the next four weeks you’ll come across a mixture of content as we explore what crime is and how the criminal justice in England and Wales works.

As well as being offered a range of research, articles and talking head opinions from a range of staff at York Law School, you’ll get the opportunity to apply the knowledge you gain to a case study. Week-by-week, we’ll follow a ‘crime’ through the system, and explore how the system deals with people and offences.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Identify different definitions of ‘crime’
  • Describe, in basic terms, key processes in criminal justice including investigation, prosecution, defence, adjudication and sentencing
  • Develop a reasoned view on the values underpinning criminal justice processes in England and Wales, and on the effectiveness of institutions including police, lawyers, and courts.

Hopefully, most of you will be familiar with the FutureLearn platform so we’ll get the ‘housekeeping matters’ out of the way in the next step. After that we’ll dive straight into the main topic for this week: considering what we mean by ‘crime’. At the end of this week, we will offer you the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge you have gained so far to a case study which will develop week-by-week.

We hope that you enjoy the course, and again, please do take every opportunity to contribute to the discussions which will be taking place.

The nature of the course is such that the content focuses on law and practice in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. However, it is always helpful to compare principles and rules across different jurisdictions, and the discussions which we’ll have on the course are great places for this to happen. So, wherever you are from, and whatever your ‘home’ jurisdiction, please do also share your knowledge and experience of legal systems other than that of England and Wales whenever a relevant opportunity presents itself.

We are grateful to Hogan Lovells for their support in the production of this course.

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From Crime to Punishment: an Introduction to Criminal Justice

University of York