Crime and Society in England, 1500-1800 (HIH2203A)

StaffProfessor Henry French - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

You will need effective communication and analytical skills, oral and written, to complete many of your modules and in a job after you graduate.  This module aims to help you develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, and in reporting on your work.  It provides you with an opportunity to explore an area of history in more depth, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history. It will also give you an opportunity to work in a team on a group presentation.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be aware of the various developments in the history of Britain in the period 1500 to 1800
  • 2. Make a close evaluation of the key legal, social, cultural and economic trends within the period
  • 3. Evaluate the main themes in the subject and to collate information upon, and evaluate in greater detail, those aspects of the module discussed in seminar and especially those topics selected by students for their coursework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse the key developments
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary
  • 6. Interpret primary sources
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments
  • 8. Recognise and deploy historical terminology correctly
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan





Introduction to Module

 Seminar- What are seminars for?


Historiographies of crime and the law



The Common Law

Seminar- Student-led seminars



The Mechanics of Prosecution – from crime to trial



The Mechanics of Prosecution – changing punishment regimes

Changing Punishment Regimes 





Violent Crime

The Decline of Violence?






Collective Protest

Scapegoats and Deviancy



Organised Crime



Crime and punishment in rural society

Law and Constructions of Women



Urban & metropolitan crime



Crime and women – Infanticide/domestic violence

The 'Honour Code'



Crime and women – witchcraft



Crime and men – interpersonal violence

Two Concepts of Order?



Crime and men – duelling



Counting crimes – the dynamics of crime & the ‘dark figure’

Elite Conspiracy?



Fiction and the archives? – Interpretation of evidence in court cases



Printing crimes – reactions to crime in contemporary publications

Changing Punishment Regimes



Crime and sensation – notorious thieves



Crime and sensation - ‘Monstrous and unnatural women’

Crime and Sensation





Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursLectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursSeminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4 on 4 occasions
Guided independent study 22 hoursWeb-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study 234 hoursReading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan x 1500 words1-12Verbal and written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay x 1303,000 Words1-12verbal and Written
Exam502 Questions in 2 Hours1-12Written
Group presentation2025 Minutes1-12Written and verbal

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay3,000 Words1-12Referral/deferral period
Exam2 Questions in 2 Hours1-12Referral/deferral period
Group Presentation Script as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes.1-12Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Sharpe, J. A., Crime in Early Modern England 1550-1750 (London, 1984).
Emsley, C., Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 (London, 1986).
Cockburn, J. S., A history of English Assizes 1558-1714 (Cambridge, 1972).
Cockburn, J S & Green, T. A., (eds)., Twelve good men and true: the criminal jury in England, 1200-1800 (Princeton, 1988).
Baker, J. H., An Introduction to English Legal History (4th ed., London, 2002), chs. 2, 5, 10, 29 & 30.
Herrup, C. B., The common peace: participation and the criminal law in seventeenth-century England (Cambridge, 1987). (Sussex)
King, P., Crime, Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820 (Oxford, 2000), chs 8-10.
Landau, N., The justices of the peace, 1679-1760 (Berkeley, 1984).
Shoemaker, R. B., Prosecution and punishment: petty crime and the law in London and rural Middlesex, c.1660-1725 (Cambridge, 1991).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date