Griffith University logo

Undergraduate | GRF-HSY311-2023

A History of Crime and Punishment

Plunge into the history of crime, law and criminal justice. Dissect how attitudes to crime have shifted over the centuries. Follow the twists and turns of the witch-hunts in the Middle Ages. Look at executions in the eighteenth century and identification of criminals in the nineteenth century. 

Study method

100% online


100% online

Entry requirements

Prior study needed


13 weeks

Start dates

  • 06 Mar 2023

HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP available

About this subject

What you'll learn

At the completion of this subject 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.
    • Anglo-Saxon Origins of English Criminal Law
    • Legal Developments after the Norman Conquest of 1066
    • Torture and the Emergence of the Jury Trial
    • Social Control, Witches and Moral Panic in England during the 16th and 17th Centuries
    • Crime and Criminals in the 18th Century
    • The 'Bloody Code' and Capital Punishment in 18th Century Britain
    • Crime and Convict Transportation
    • Crime and Criminals in the 19th Century
    • The Rise of the Prison
    • Policing in the 19th Century
    • Identifying Criminals in the 19th Century
  • This subject 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 end of the nineteenth century, 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.

    • Online Exam (30%)
    • Essay (35%)
    • Online Discussion (35%)
  • For textbook details check your university's handbook, website or learning management system (LMS).

  • With a network of campuses spanning three cities in South East Queensland, Griffith University is committed to progressive multidisciplinary teaching and research and a valuable online provider with Open Universities Australia. Already attracting students from over one hundred countries, Griffith's dedication to academic excellence is available across Australia through OUA.

    Learn more about Griffith.

    Explore Griffith courses.

    QS Ranking 2023: 19

    Times Higher Education Ranking 2023: 16

Entry requirements


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

Additional requirements

No additional requirements

What to study next?

Once you’ve completed this subject it can be credited towards one of the following degrees

Griffith University logo


Bachelor of Arts

Single subject FAQs

  • Single subjects are the individual components that make up a degree. With Open Universities Australia, you’re able to study many of them as stand-alone subjects, including postgraduate single subjects, without having to commit to a degree.

    Each of your subjects will be held over the course of a study term, and they’ll usually require 10 to 12 hours of study each week. Subjects are identified by a title and a code, for example, Developmental Psychology, PSY20007.

  • First, find the degree that you would like to study on our website.

    If that degree allows entry via undergraduate subjects, there will be information about this under the Entry Requirements section. You will find a list of 2-4 open enrolment subjects you need to successfully complete to qualify for admission into that qualification.

    Once you pass those subjects, you will satisfy the academic requirements for the degree, and you can apply for entry.

    Our student advisors are here to help you take that next step, so don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready! We’ve also made it easier to figure out the right way to get started on our pathways page.

  • Our student advisors are more than happy to help you plan your online study. Get in touch with an advisor by:

    - Booking a free one-on-one consultation

    - Calling, messaging or chatting with us today

  • You can pay up front with your credit card, or you may be eligible for a HELP loan from the Australian government depending on your citizenship status and where you’ll live during your studies.

    For more information about how to pay for your studies visit our fees page or contact a student advisor.

  • When you’ve made your choice, click ‘Enrol now’ on the relevant course page and follow the prompts to begin your enrolment. We’ll ask you to supply some supporting documentation, including proof of your identity, your tax file number, and a unique student identifier (USI) during this process.

    Your university will get in touch with you via email to confirm whether or not your application has been successful.

    If you get stuck at any time, reach out to us and we’ll talk you through it.

    You can also take a look at our online self-service enrolling instructions .

  • Close of enrolment times vary between universities and subjects. You can check the cut-off dates for upcoming study terms by visiting key dates.