Module title: Crime in Text and Film

SCQF level: 10:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP10108
Module leader: Anne Schwan
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Humanities and Culture


2019/0, Trimester 2, Face-to-Face, Edinburgh Napier University
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: Face-to-Face
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Partner: Edinburgh Napier University
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Anne Schwan
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
Teaching will take place in the form of a weekly lecture (LOs 2,3,5) and tutorial (LOs 1,4,5) which may be combined into a 3-hour block. Weekly sessions will combine formal lecture elements with more interactive activities. Formal input from the lecturer will offer you a frame of reference in terms of socio-historical contexts and theoretical approaches to individual texts. Class activities will range from listening (LOs 2,3,5), individual oral contributions and group work (LOs 1,4,5), to independent research, reading and writing assignments (LOs 1,2,3,4,5). Independent learning will be facilitated through structured reading activities and an extensive course bibliography. Coursework consultation sessions will be available to help you plan your assessments.

You will develop your ability to read and write critically and analytically, and to articulate arguments in both oral and written form. In-class activities will give you an opportunity to improve your team working skills, thus facilitating the development of personal and scholarly skills relevant to a range of employment sectors. You will receive guidance on advanced research methods to support you in your own research and lay the foundations for potential postgraduate work you may wish to pursue. Staff research interests inform the ways in which this course is taught and provide a model for research practice.

For students participating in the prison placement scheme at HMP Edinburgh’s learning centre, this module also offers opportunities for combining the theoretical study of crime and punishment with practical work experience and personal reflection on the placement.

Formative Assessment:
Although there are no formal formative assessments on this module, in the weeks leading up to each summative assessment, we employ in-class formative feedback to help you prepare for summative assignments. You will be asked to engage in textual analysis of selected passages to model the kinds of work you will be expected to perform in the summative assessments. You will have the opportunity to discuss sample assignments to inform your own planning for summative work. You will also be given the option to present a sample entry of your reading diary or an essay plan to your tutor and receive formative feedback on this. You may be asked to present your ideas for your final summative assessment in small groups in the tutorial and receive peer feedback on these.

Summative Assessment:
Summative assessment will take the form of a mid-term written assignment (reading diary or essay [LOs 1,2,3,4,5]) and one end-of-term essay or reflective report (1,2,3,4,5). For the reading diary, you will be asked to write a series of short, critical commentaries on the assigned material over several weeks, which will enable you to practise writing on a regular basis and thus prepare you for the longer essay or reflective report; alternatively, you can opt for an essay for your first assignment, which will ask you to compare a group of texts around a common theme. The final essay assignment will also ask you to choose a theme and write a comparative analysis of two or more relevant literary texts or other cultural products. You will be expected to engage with scholarly criticism in all of your assignments.

Students participating in the prison placement at HMP Edinburgh will have the option of replacing the essay with a reflective report, which will offer an opportunity to critically reflect on the volunteering experience, its impact on your career plans and your understanding of the material studied on the module. This assignment option enables you to practise writing as a ‘reflective practitioner’, a skill which is required and valued in many professions today, including teaching.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Lecture 20
Face To Face Tutorial 10
Independent Learning Guided independent study 170
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Essay 50 1-5 6 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Reflective Log 50 1-5 13 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Component 1 subtotal: 50
Component 2 subtotal: 50
Module subtotal: 100

Description of module content:

Crime, its causes and possible remedies have preoccupied commentators from all classes and backgrounds throughout history. This module introduces you to representations of crime, punishment and the convicted from the nineteenth century onwards—in a range of literary texts and other media—giving you an opportunity to explore changing definitions of criminality. Whilst the module asks you to think about depictions of crime and punishment within their specific cultural-historical context, you are also encouraged to consider differences and continuities in the ‘criminal imagination’ between different historical periods. The module aims to provide you with the ability to critically analyse and compare representations of people who commit crimes in literature, the media, film and TV and to examine the relationship between these representations and wider social concerns. By using a range of media, including online resources, the module offers you the opportunity to engage with a variety of cultural products and to develop a number of advanced research and transferable skills.

Beginning with the first half of the nineteenth century, the module looks at the ways in which literary authors and social commentators such as Charles Dickens responded to the social problem of crime. You will read popular murder ballads from the period that were sold to the crowds at public executions alongside the murder poems of more canonical writers like Robert Browning. Reading other texts from the nineteenth century and moving on to the contemporary period, you will be encouraged to consider how representations of criminality intersect with ideas about deviance from dominant class, racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities. The module offers you an opportunity to engage with a range of genres, from poetry, street literature and historical fiction to film and TV series (such as Orange is the New Black). Brief overviews of contemporary debates on prison education and US mass incarceration will complement our textual work to broaden your perspective and encourage interdisciplinary engagement with sociological and criminological debates in this area.

Throughout the module, you will also be asked to think about the importance of self-representation as a response to debates about law-breakers, and you will therefore look at a number of textual spaces where the voices of so-called delinquents themselves emerge. The weekly lectures will provide an introduction and set the context for group and individual work. Interactive exercises will focus on close reading and analysis of the assigned material. You will also be asked to engage with recent scholarly and wider public debates on the material in question.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to

LO1: Critically reflect on a range of literary texts and other cultural products in oral and written form
LO2: Examine the relationship between these cultural products and their cultural-historical context
LO3: Compare representations of criminality and punishment in different genres and historical periods
LO4: Analyse how individual texts relate to each other and/or to common themes
LO5: Critically reflect on relevant scholarly and public debates around crime and penal practices in society, text and film

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
CLP10108 Crime in text & film