HIST3007 Crime and Punishment in Britain 1600–1900

6 points
Not available in 2020UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the History; Criminology major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit draws upon a wide array of primary and secondary sources in order to provide a critical assessment of how crime was perceived, controlled and punished in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has three main aims—firstly, to examine changes in crime and perceptions of crime over this period; secondly, to investigate the manner in which law enforcement and criminal justice systems were reformed in response to changing needs and perceptions; and thirdly, to critically assess the competing theoretical frameworks which have been advanced to explain reform.

Key questions to be addressed include—What was the rationale behind Witchcraft? What did contemporaries regard as crime, 'social crime' and 'social protest'? How did the early modern criminal justice system function and in whose interests? Why did prisons and transportation replace public executions as the cornerstone of many penal systems? What historical explanations have been advanced to explain the transition from an unpoliced to a policed society? And how can long-term trends in crime, including class and gender variations, be explained? England forms the main focus of the unit, but comparisons are drawn with other parts of the United Kingdom (not least as Scotland had its own criminal justice system) as well as other countries.
Students are able to (1) describe and assess the basic methodological issues characteristic of the discipline of History; (2) describe, assess and evaluate methodological issues used in the study of criminal justice history; (3) demonstrate detailed understanding of developments in crime, policing and punishment, c.1600 to 1900, and an appreciation of the historiographical interpretations that have been advanced to explain them; (4) analyse a wide range of source materials using methodologies and theories appropriate for criminal justice history; (5) relate their independent source interpretations to the complex historiographical debates about crime, criminals, law enforcement and penal structures; and (6) present advanced arguments in both written and oral assessments using the conventions of the historical discipline.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial/workshop participation; (2) a research essay; and (3) an in-class reflective essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor David Barrie
Unit rules
a Level 2 History unit
EURO2201 European Civilisation
GEND2902 Men and Masculinities in History
LAWS1110 Crime and Society
LAWS2223 Criminal Justice Systems
HIST2248 Crime and Punishment in Britain 1700–1900
Contact hours
3 hours per week
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