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Crime, harm and the state

The central question you’ll explore in this module is why some events which cause harm, of various kinds, are formally labelled and treated as crimes when others are not, and this can vary by region and over time. You’ll focus on constructions of ‘harm’ or ‘social harm’, not least as these are intimately linked to the state, as the key source of definitions of crime through law, and a key concept in understanding the process of criminalisation and definitions of crime, harm and justice. You’ll also critically consider the role and function of criminological theory and its proximity to state power, allowing you to develop your own criminological imagination and identity.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

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

Module code
DD311
Credits

Credits

  • 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.
60
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU FHEQ
3 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

You'll learn about a range of criminological perspectives and be introduced to a number of key concepts to help explore the relationships between crime, harm and the state.  Many of these are at the cutting-edge of contemporary criminology, including, for example, zemiology, decolonial perspectives, and green criminology. You'll undertake a detailed interrogation of some key issues in contemporary criminology – through a variety of topics including the global pharmaceutical industry, food production, harm to non-human animals, the global tourism industry, international warfare, the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, climate catastrophe, sexuality and eugenics - through the cutting-edge lens of social harm. In so doing, you'll interrogate key social scientific concepts such as discourse, power and the state. This module is divided into the following blocks:

In Block 1 you'll be introduced to the concept of power to explore how and why certain harms come to be criminalised while others do not. 

Through Block 2 you'll explore the concept of discourse as an aid to investigating  how and why some harms come to be constructed as crimes while other harms are, at best, neglected and, at worst, denied. 

In Block 3, you'll develop a deeper understanding of the concept of the state and examine further the role of states in both mitigating and producing harm.

Finally, Block 4 gives you the opportunity to synthesise your understanding of the empirical, conceptual and theoretical material you have explored to this point  to consider the interactions between power, discourse and the state for understanding the relationships between crime and harm.

Due to the nature of exploring criminal harm and state violence, you may find a number of the topics discussed in this module difficult and challenging. If you feel that increased awareness of such issues will be unduly distressing, then please think carefully before enrolling for this module.

Vocational relevance

This module is relevant to a wide range of jobs in the public, voluntary, community and commercial sectors. The module content is directly relevant to a variety of jobs in public administration, social and welfare services, criminal justice services and community support services among others. The key skills you'll develop are relevant to any job context. Among these ‘transferable’ skills are the ability to:

  • identify, select, interpret, analyse and critical evaluate evidence
  • communicate information about crime and criminalization accurately and effectively to different audiences
  • plan, conduct and present an independent investigation of an issue in a reasoned and coherent way
  • work cooperatively with other learners in a group
  • reflect on your learning and apply it to non-module provided examples and situations.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll be assigned a dedicated tutor who will provide you with advice and guidance throughout the module. They will help and work with you across the different kinds of learning materials, as well as marking, commenting and offering feedback on your written assignments. Your tutor will also support you with the module activities and collaborative work.

We aim to provide online tutorials and recordings of these will typically be made available. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorials, you are strongly encouraged to take part.

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

Assessment

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

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). You will be required, at certain points, to work with other students and this is assessed in one of the TMAs. This includes looking at, and commenting on, others’ work, reflecting on others’ comments on your work, and/or working together with fellow learners on a project/task. There is a TMA activity that requires you to source images which will be assessed.

Future availability

Crime, harm and the state starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2029.

Regulations

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:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

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

    Register

    Start End Fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 18/03/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2029.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

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

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, 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).


    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 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 02/03/2021.

    What's included

    You'll be provided with two printed books and have access to the module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • module specific forums
    • audio and video content
    • assessment guide
    • online tutorial access.

    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 an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    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 DD311 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.