Faculty of Arts

CRIM 301

Issues in Criminal Justice


This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in criminal justice. Using a combination of readings, lectures, discussions and dramas, students will be familiarised with the basic characteristics of the criminal justice system and asked to use this knowledge in analysing various aspects of that system.

We will begin with a discussion of how behaviour becomes criminalised and an overview of the role that discretion plays throughout the criminal justice system. As the course continues, students will learn about special populations within the criminal justice system: victims, youth, women, minorities and mentally disordered offenders.

The course will also consider several areas where criminal law is relatively unsettled (i.e., sex work, risk and dangerousness and family violence) as well as considering the outer limits of criminal justice (i.e., the case for torture).

The course employs an international, comparative approach and students will be exposed to materials from New Zealand, the US, the UK, Australia and elsewhere, and expected to relate them to each other.

Course outcomes

By the end of the course, a student should:

  • Be familiar with the institutional components of the criminal justice system
  • Understand the role that discretion plays within the criminal justice system
  • Understand the challenges presented by special populations within the criminal justice system, especially when involving offenders who differ from the majority population in terms of age, gender, race and mental health status
  • Be familiar with areas of unsettled criminal law, particularly those involving risk and dangerousness, sex work and family violence
  • Be familiar with the arguments for and against the use of torture, and be able to critically assess whether torture occurs within the criminal justice system
  • Be familiar with key issues in criminal justice and be able to critically analyse both sides of the argument
  • Be able to write a research paper related to the criminal justice system, combining academic research and critical analysis

View the course syllabus

Availability 2020

Semester 2


Lecturer(s) Dr Alice Mills


A course reader will be made available if required

Recommended Reading

Tolmie, J. and Brookbanks, W. (eds.) (2007) Criminal Justice in New Zealand. Wellington: LexisNexis NZ


Coursework + exam


CRIM 301: 15.0 points


15 points from CRIM 201, 202

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