A History of Crime and Punishment - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 3
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: No
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: SP3
  • Availability for 2018: SP1 , SP3
  • Assessment: Essay 1 (35%) , Essay 2 (45%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit examines the incidence of crime, the development of the law and criminal justice processes in response to crime, and the means of punishment to deal with crime. Covering the period from the Middle Ages to the present, the focus will be mainly on Europe and the ways in which crime impacted on communities, how the meaning of criminality shifted over time, and the agencies for change in dealing with criminals.

At the completion of this unit you will be able to:

  1. understand some major themes in the history of the crime and the law from the earliest times to the present;
  2. engage systematically and critically with the complex relations between developments in the law and legal system and broader political, social economic and cultural change;
  3. demonstrate a general capacity for research, analysis of evidence, reasoned argument, clear exposition, and sound judgement;
  4. progress, through an informed and disciplined reflection on the past, to a richer and deeper understanding of the present.
  • Essay 1 (35%)
  • Essay 2 (45%)
  • Online Discussion (20%)

There are no prerequisites for this unit.

Note: Level 3 units normally assume a moderate level of prior knowledge in this area, eg from studying related Level 1 and 2 units or other relevant experience.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1What is crime and what is criminal law in a historical context?
2Anglo-Saxon origins of criminal law.
3Legal developments after the Norman Conquest and the 'Legal Revolution'.
4Torture and the emergence of the jury trial.
5Witchcraft and the witch hunts.
6Crime and criminals in the 18th Century.
7Crime and Convict transportation.
8Crime and criminals in the 19th Century.
9The rise of the prison.
10Identifying criminals: mug shots and pseudo-science.
11Organised crime in the 20th Century.
12Debates on the death penalty.
13Is terrorism a crime?

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Chat rooms
  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture

Online materials

  • Online Assessment
  • Printable format materials
  • Resources and Links

This unit is part of a major, minor, stream or specialisation in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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