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 why the legal system moved away from capital punishment towards firstly the transportation and ultimately the imprisonment of felons and what led to the establishment of the police force. You will be introduced to a wide range of sources for examining the history of crime and punishment, both qualitative and quantitative. In looking at punishment, the ideas of Beccaria, Howard and Bentham will be examined in addition to prison and Home Office records. The material of Colquhoun and Peel form the basis of a consideration of early policing. A final component of the course will be to address modern representations of the history of crime and punishment through the watching of films and documentaries (ranging from Dick Turpin to Blackadder) to examine and deconstruct some of the myths that have grown up around the period and subject.
Aims and Objectives
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Reflect upon the impact of the development of the police force - and changing penal policy in particular - with regard to the treatment of crime today.
- Identify and engage with the most important historiographical texts on the subject.
- Make connections between Enlightenment theories and the development of the criminal justice system.
- Describe the changing patterns of criminal activity in the period 1688 to 1840.
- Analyse a wide range of primary source material (including images), with regard to the specific context.
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- 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.
- Changing attitudes towards punishment, in particular the move away from capital punishment to imprisonment.
- The changing structure of the criminal justice system between 1688 and 1840.
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Learn to develop critical time management skills by handling several tasks competently at the same time.
- Collect data and information, evaluate it, and integrate it in an essay.
- Perform research with electronic media on a wide range of subjects.
The long eighteenth century was the period of the 'Bloody Code' when over 200 separate crimes carried the death penalty in England! We consider the reasons behind the harshness of these laws, their implementation and eventual reform as we study this tumultuous period in the history of crime and criminal law in England. We examine contemporary writers fearful of the rise of violent and gang based crime, not unlike today. We look at the experiences of individual criminals, their stories, their treatment by the courts, their punishments and how these changed as prisons and transportation replaced executions in the early nineteenth century. We move beyond England to look at the lives of the criminals transported to America and Australia. Using an exciting range of sources from newspapers and trial reports to paintings and literature we focus on the social history of crimes and criminals against a backdrop of revolutions, the Enlightenment and the growth of Empire.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include
- Two double sessions per week in seminar format with source interpretation and student presentations
- Close analysis and interpretation of primary sources in different genres.
- Essay workshops and tutorials
Learning activities include
- preparing introductory and background reading for each seminar
- preparing oral presentations on specific aspects of the course
- analysis, in groups and individually, of primary source materials
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 how 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.
|Total study time
Resources & Reading list
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) access through library website.
British Newspapers 1600-1900 access through library website.
M. Gaskill (2002). Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England.
J. Briggs, C. Harrison, A. McInnes and D. Vincent (2001). Crime and Punishment in England: An Introductory History.
P. King (2000). Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820.
D. Hay, et al (1976). Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century England.
F. McLynn (1989). Crime and Punishment in Eighteenth Century England.
J. Sharpe (1984). Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750.
V. A. C. Gatrell (1984). The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770-1868.
D. Taylor (1998). Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914.
C. Emsley (1987). Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900.
J. Beattie (2001). Policing and Punishment in London, 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror.
J. Beattie (1986). Crime and the Courts in England, 1660-1800.
J. S. Cockburn, ed (1977). Crime in England, 1550-1800.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External