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Crime and justice

Crime, disorder, and justice are increasingly pressing concerns across the world. Fear of crime and proliferating global threats contribute to an increasing sense of insecurity. Local concerns – for example street crime – are now accompanied by twenty-first century global concerns about human trafficking, cyber-crime, terrorism and human rights violations to name but a few. These ‘threats’ have implications for justice, as the boundaries between crime control and civil liberties are being increasingly redrawn. You’ll explore crime and justice in both global and local contexts, and in particular the way that crime and justice are being continually redefined by global economic, social and political change.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

Crime and how to respond to it are major concerns and this module offers critical questions to help you to better understand complex local and global trends in crime and crime control. It asks you to question why particular behaviours are criminalised at certain points in time and in certain places but not in others and why some harmful acts are not defined as crimes at all.

This module is designed to enable you to gain an understanding of the contemporary nature of crime and criminal justice ‘beyond borders’. You'll learn how to recognise the different ways in which crime is constructed, conceived and controlled. You'll discover how criminologists have explained and rationalised these issues and explore how ideas and theories have been constructed to underpin these explanations. The module structures your understanding of crime and justice through a sustained engagement with relevant and accessible topics brought together under the themes of power, violence and harm.

The key issues covered in this module are:

  • What do we mean by ‘crime’ and ‘criminal justice’?
  • In what ways do crime and criminal justice have a global dimension?
  • What is the difference between crime and the idea of social harm?
  • How is the concept of violence intrinsic to understanding both crime and criminal justice?
  • How does power work itself into networks of crime and the practices of criminal justice?

These issues will be explored through a series of topics. These include producing and selling drugs; cities, slums and transgression; cyber-crime; human trafficking; corporate crime, torture and genocide; surveillance and global monitoring; the science of risk prediction; cultures of control; trans-national policing; international criminal courts; and universal human rights. Throughout we ask What are the implications of only recognising ‘crime’ through the criminal laws enacted by individual societies? and What are the consequences of responding to harms, disputes and conflicts primarily through the agencies of criminal justice? Asking such questions sheds light not only on 'the problem of crime' and 'the effectiveness of criminal justice', but also encourages imaginative thinking of how these issues might be reformulated and readdressed.

Vocational relevance

This module is for anyone who has a serious interest in studying one of society’s most pressing social problems at a local and global level. It is of professional relevance for those who work for, or who wish to work for, the agencies of the criminal justice system, or for organisations concerned with the care and resettlement of offenders, civil liberties, human rights, social justice, victim support, crime prevention, community safety and conflict resolution.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

One of the TMAs is called the ‘independent essay’, and is an opportunity for you to conduct your own small-scale research on a topic of interest to you in the module, supported by your tutor. 

Future availability

Crime and justice starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module, Crime, harm and the state (DD311), is planned for October 2020.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
    No residential school

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module, for which you are expected to be acquainted with the social sciences or with humanities. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

    The skills you need include understanding and using abstract ideas, reading and extracting concepts and arguments, developing your own arguments, and recognising and assessing different viewpoints. Ideally you should have already taken an OU level 2 social science module. Your regional or national centre will be able to tell you where you can see reference copies of study materials, and can advise you about appropriate skills.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    You could ease yourself into studying criminology by taking an active interest in all aspects of media coverage of crime and the criminal justice system.


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 £3012.00

    Registration closes 12/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    October 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 18/08/2019.

    What's included

    Module books and website.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD301 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.