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HIST3075 Crime and Punishment in England c.1688-1840 part 1

Module Overview

This course will span the period c.1688-c.1840, beginning with the reforms of the criminal code introduced following the Glorious Revolution, known as the ‘Bloody Code’, and concluding in the mid-nineteenth century with the introduction of the police force under Peel and the first acts removing capital punishment from felonies. You will be asked to consider both the nature and incidence of crime and whether historians’ research confirms contemporary perceptions of the lawlessness of society. You will be asked to address whether a poor man’s [and woman’s] system of justice operated in the eighteenth century or whether the criminal law solely acted as the ‘ideology’ of the ruling classes. You will be introduced to a wide range of sources for examining the history of crime and punishment, both qualitative and quantitative. A variety of legal material will be drawn upon; indictment and deposition records from Quarter Sessions, Assize Circuits, the Kings Bench and the very rich Old Bailey Sessions Papers and Newgate Calendar. Alongside this the writings of contemporaries such as Defoe, Fielding, Smollett will be considered. Criminal biographies, judges’ notebooks, newspapers, canting dictionaries and satirical images also provide interesting and informative sources.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The changing structure of the criminal justice system between 1688 and 1840.
  • The nature and incidence of crime in the period and the extent to which historical research confirms the perceptions of contemporaries.
  • The different forms of evidence available to historians for uncovering the histories of crime and punishment.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the changing patterns of criminal activity in the period 1688 to 1840.
  • Make connections between Enlightenment theories and the development of the criminal justice system.
  • Analyse a wide range of primary source material (including images), with regard to the specific context, and comment succinctly on their significance in a gobbets exam.
  • Identify and engage with the most important historiographical texts on the subject.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Collect data and information, evaluate it, and integrate it in an essay or oral presentation.
  • Participate in group discussion, as speaker to a group but also as a respondent.
  • Work individually but also in a small group.
  • Learn to develop critical time management skills by handling several tasks competently at the same time.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Perform research with electronic media on a wide range of subjects.
  • Be able to present research both orally and in short text formats

Syllabus

a. Module Overview This course will span the period c.1688-c.1840, beginning with the reforms of the criminal code introduced following the Glorious Revolution, known as the ‘Bloody Code’, and concluding in the mid-nineteenth century with the introduction of the police force under Peel and the first acts removing capital punishment from felonies. You will be asked to consider both the nature and incidence of crime and whether historians’ research confirms contemporary perceptions of the lawlessness of society. You will be asked to address whether a poor man’s [and woman’s] system of justice operated in the eighteenth century or whether the criminal law solely acted as the ‘ideology’ of the ruling classes. b. Module Syllabus You will be introduced to a wide range of sources for examining the history of crime and punishment, both qualitative and quantitative. A variety of legal material will be drawn upon; indictment and deposition records from Quarter Sessions, Assize Circuits, the Kings Bench and the very rich Old Bailey Sessions Papers and Newgate Calendar. Alongside this the writings of contemporaries such as Defoe, Fielding, Smollett will be considered. Criminal biographies, judges’notebooks, newspapers, canting dictionaries and satirical images also provide interesting and informative sources.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Two weekly two-hour seminars • Individual consultation on dissertations • Group work Learning activities include • Preparatory reading for seminar discussions • Preparing and delivering presentations • Further reading and independent research for the essay and dissertation Seminars will introduce you to the changing notions of crime and punishment through the long eighteenth century and provide you with the necessary research skills, such as: how to find and analyse secondary literature and also to research, evaluate and use primary source material. The seminar environment will help to develop your interpersonal skills through the use of individual and group presentations. These will develop your knowledge and understanding of particular subject areas and enhance your oral communication skills. The preparation for presentations will help you to find an essay topic, narrow it down to a specific question and start to research sources and secondary materials relevant for it, to critically evaluate the contributions made by published secondary works and to develop a coherent written argument at length.

TypeHours
Teaching40
Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

M. Gaskill (2002). Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England. 

J. Sharpe (1984). Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750. 

J. Briggs, C. Harrison, A. McInnes and D. Vincent (2001). Crime and Punishment in England: An Introductory History. 

V. A. C. Gatrell (1984). The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770-1868. 

D. Hay, et al (1976). Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century England. 

P. King (2000). Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820. 

C. Emsley (1987). Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900. 

F. McLynn (1989). Crime and Punishment in Eighteenth Century England. 

J. S. Cockburn, ed (1977). Crime in England, 1550-1800. 

J. Beattie (1986). Crime and the Courts in England, 1660-1800. 

D. Taylor (1998). Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914. 

J. Beattie (2001). Policing and Punishment in London, 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Take-away exam 20%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students may choose to buy their own copies of key texts but there is no requirement for you to do so.

Travel Costs for placements

Any field trips (archives, museums etc.,) will be optional and self-financed.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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