You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

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.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

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

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code
Study level
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

Having studied the OU law courses, this was a very new experience for me. Structure was different to the law...
Read more

My final course with the Open University and definitely my favorite level 3. The content is very interesting and there...
Read more

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

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.

Crime and justice is designed to enable you to gain an understanding of the contemporary nature of crime and criminal justice ‘beyond borders’. You will learn how to recognise the different ways in which crime is constructed, conceived and controlled. You will 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.

Key issues for 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?

Throughout the module these issues will be explored through a series of topics, ranging from the production and selling of drugs, cities, slums and transgression, cyber-crime, human trafficking, corporate crime, torture and genocide to 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? 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

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents 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.


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 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
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, 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 you register.

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.

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

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. 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 qualification 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 modules.  

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, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta 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 that is 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 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 01/08/2015.

What's included

Module books and website.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Large print versions of the study materials can be provided on request. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.