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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Crime and Punishment, c.1750-1950
Module Code HY337
School 68
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: William Murphy
Semester 2: William Murphy
Autumn: William Murphy
Module TeachersSusan Hegarty
William Murphy
Grania Shanahan
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

Contemporary Irish society, like other societies around us now, and societies in the past, is fascinated to the point of obsession with crime. The related issues of punishment and justice have sometimes been afforded less attention. This module will examine the history of crime and punishment during the period 1750-1950, with a focus on the English-speaking world. Changing rates and patterns of crime, the development of modern policing, the changing role of the courts, evolving patterns of punishment, and the emergence of experts will all be explored. This will be conducted with due attention to the influence of ideology, social and economic change, and the growth of the power of the state, while the importance of class, gender, youth, ethnicity, political protest, and popular representations of crime will be assessed.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify major trends in the history of crime and punishment for the modern period.
2. Interrogate the social, economic, political and ideological contexts in which the definitions of crime and approaches to justice and punishment have evolved.
3. Compare approaches to crime and punishment between jurisdictions and analyse the extent to which ideas and strategies about crime and punishment were shared among emerging groups of ‘experts’ and the mechanisms of this transfer.
4. Assess the impact of categories including class, gender and youth uponLO definitions of crime and criminal justice systems.
5. Demonstrate an ability to analyse a range of primary sources related to crime and punishment, including state records, legal texts, criminological studies, literary texts, newspapers, and visual art.
6. Apply knowledge of international trends in the study of crime and punishment to the study of crime and punishment in Ireland.
7. Argue and reference coherent arguments about aspects of the history and crime and punishment.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Total Workload: 0

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

The students will examine the definition and measurement of crime from the mid-eighteenth century. They will assess the changing forms and perceptions of crime that came with increasing urbanisation and the consequences of the increasing association, in public discourse, of crime and the urban poor. Terms such as ‘the criminal classes’, ‘degeneration’ and ‘organized crime’ will be examined. Those forms of crime associated with women, juveniles, migrants and ethnic minorities will be also investigated to reveal broader societal attitudes towards vulnerable groups.

The students will assess the increasing tendency for the state to watch and control its subjects/citizens during the nineteenth century. In particular, they will investigate the shift from local – municipal – policing toward national police forces and associated bureaucracies. What were the implications of the professionalising of policing? They will consider the use of police to manage political dissent, in particular during times of political crisis.

The Courts
The students will consider the expansion of courts systems and the interactions of the populace with this manifestation of the law. Who appeared before the courts? Who represented people in courts and how were their roles defined and professionalised? How has the role of judges and magistrates evolved? How has the role of ‘experts’ evolved within the criminal justice system?

The students will probe changing patterns of punishment from punishments largely inflicted upon the body – flogging and execution – to convict transportation and on to the dominance of the modern prison. The evolution of modern prisons into modern prison systems and the associated development of prison regimes will be scrutinised as will the development of specialist penal institutions such as the borstal for juvenile offenders.

Representations of Crime and Punishment
The role of the popular press, popular fiction and cinema in shaping popular perceptions of crime and punishment will be investigated. Popular culture phenomena such as the ‘detective’ and the ‘serial killer’ will be examined.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentAssignments as required100%As required
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Patrick Carroll-Burke: 2000, Colonial Discipline: the making of the Irish convict system, Four Courts Press Dublin,
  • Anna Clark: 1987, Women’s Silence, Men’s Violence: Sexual Assault in England 1770-1845, Pandora Press: London,
  • Anastasia Dukova: 2016, A History of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Its Colonial Legacy, Palgrave MacMillan, Houndmills,
  • Roger Ekirch: 0, Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775, Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1987,
  • Clive Emsley: 2007, Crime, Police and Penal Policy: European Experiences 1750-1940, Oxford University Press: Oxford,
  • Clive Emsley: 2005, Crime and Society in England 1750-1900, 3rd edition, Pearson Education: Harlow,
  • Elaine Farrell: 2013, ‘A Most Diabolical Deed’: infanticide and Irish society, 1850-1900, Manchester University Press,
  • Michel Foucault: 1977, Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison, Penguin London,
  • V.A.C. Gatrell: 1994, The Hanging Tree: execution and the English people, 1770-1868, Oxford University Press: Oxford,
  • Barry S. Godfrey, Paul Lawrence, and Chris A. Williams (eds): 2008, History & Crime: Key Approaches to Criminology, Sage Publications: London,
  • Brian Henry: 1994, Dublin Hanged: crime, law enforcement and punishment in late eighteenth century Dublin, Irish Academic Press: Dublin,
  • Robert Hughes: 1987, The Fatal Shore: a history of the transportation of convicts to Australia, 1878-1868, Collins Harvill: London,
  • Michael Ignatieff,: 1978, A Just Measure of Pain: the penitentiary in the industrial revolution, Pantheon Books: New York,,
  • Helen Johnston: 2015, Crime in England, 1815-1880, Routledge: London,
  • Peter King: 2000, Crime, Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820, Oxford University Press: Oxford,
  • Paul Knepper and Anja Johansen (eds): 2016, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice, Oxford University Press: Oxford,
  • Paul Lawrence: 2011, The New Police in the Nineteenth Century, Ashgate: Farnham,
  • Maria Luddy: 2007, Prostitution and Irish Society, 1800-1940, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge,
  • Richard McMahon: 2013, Homicide in pre-Famine in Ireland, Liverpool University Press,
  • Norval Morris and David J. Rothman (eds): 1998, The Oxford History of the Prison: the practice of punishment in western society, Oxford,
  • William Murphy: 2014, Political Imprisonment and the Irish 1912-1921, Oxford University Press,
  • Ian O’Donnell, Justice, Mercy, and Caprice:: 2017, Clemency and Death Penalty in Ireland, Oxford University Press,
  • Stanley H. Palmer: 1988, Police and Protest in England and Ireland, 1780-1850, Cambridge University Press,
  • Conor Reidy: 2009, Ireland’s ‘Moral Hospital’: the Irish Borstal System 1906-1956, Irish Academic Press: Dublin,
  • Pieter Spierenburg: 2008, A History of Murder, Cambridge,
  • John Walliss: 2018, The Bloody Code in England and Wales, 1760-1830, Palgrave Macmillan: Houndmills,
  • Martin J. Wiener: 2004, Men of Blood: Violence, Manliness and Criminal Justice in Victorian England, Cambridge University Press,
  • Lucia Zedner: 1993, Women, Crime and Custody in Victorian Britain, Clarendon Press: Oxford,
Other Resources

0, Online, 0, Online, https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/, 0, Online, 0, Online, https://www.digitalpanopticon.org,
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