CR7002 - Comparative Penal Policy

What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will gain a detailed and contemporary understanding of criminal justice debates relating to custody and community based punishments. You will analyse penal policy and its relationship to wider issues associated with economic, social, cultural and political developments in an international context. Through engaging with historical and contemporary literature and research you will develop your knowledge of penal policy, as well as the underlying philosophies of punishment. Additionally you will develop an understanding as to why some western societies have adopted a more 'managerial' approach towards criminal justice, including the development of 'risk-based' and ‘deficits’ models of interventions, versus ‘strengths based’ approaches favoured in other jurisdictions. The module will also consider the ethics and role of the private sector in criminal justice systems, both prison and also community based sanctions.

How will I learn on this module?

Each teaching session will include some formal input from the module tutors, with references to extra reading for those less familiar with the topic and the opportunity to discuss that reading with the tutors. You will be expected to engage in debate, group discussion and presentation and to have prepared for each session through independent study following the electronic reading lists that accompany the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your learning on this module will be developed through a combination of formal input from academic staff and exercises that develop further the intellectual/professional skills and abilities that are needed to complete an MA and to prepare you for doctoral study or a job which requires you to undertake research at a high level. There will be opportunities to ask questions and seek guidance from academic staff both within and outside the timetabled teaching sessions. All academic staff advertise times when they are available to students and there is also the opportunity to book appointments. Your learning will also be supported by an extensive electronic reading list and the provision of lecture notes and other materials on our e-learning platform.

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. Demonstrate knowledge of international debates in penal policy and practice.

2. Evidence critical thinking in relation to social, political and economic impacts upon penal policy.

3. You will gain a critical understanding of the key debates relating to
recidivism, rehabilitation, security, and risk management in an international context

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

4. Develop oral communication skills through constructively challenging the opinions of others within the penal policy debate

5. You will develop skills in comparative analysis and basics of comparative research

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

6. Demonstrate critical curiosity and engage sensitively with different cultural and political penal policy regimes.

How will I be assessed?

The summative assessment task consists of a single component the completion of a 5000 word essay with focus upon aspects of international contemporary penal policy, selected from a list of pre-set questions from a range of topics as displayed on the eLearning portal.

Throughout the module, students will be asked to undertake formative assessment tasks that prepare them for the assessment. These will include work towards formulating their topic, conducting a bibliographic search and developing analytic skills.

Students will receive feedback on formative assessment tasks throughout the module from the tutor and their peers: for example, all will be encouraged to comment constructively on one another’s work.'





Module abstract

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

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

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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