Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


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.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the History; Criminology; Criminology and Criminal Justice major sequences
  • Level 3 elective

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.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor David Barrie
Unit rules
Completion of 12 points of Humanities units
or permission of the unit coordinator.
or any one of: EURO2201 European Civilisation.
GEND2902 Men and Masculinities in History.
LAWS1110 Crime and Society.
or LAWS2223 Criminal Justice Systems
HIST2248 Crime and Punishment in Britain 1700–1900
Contact hours
Two-hour weekly workshops and one-hour weekly recorded lectures over twelve weeks.
This unit is available online.

The in-class reflective assignment has been replaced with a take home assignment inline with Covid-19 guidelines.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.