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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

SOC2098: Sociology of Imprisonment

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


Distinctions between imprisonment and detention, and examples of each.

Prison Discourses – how and to what extent has the nature of imprisonment changed since the 1950s?


The Prison Experience – discuss what the ‘pains of imprisonment’ are, and whether their nature has changed in the last five decades.


Society of Prisoners – consider what social life within a prison is like, and what it tells us about the effectiveness of prison as a method of punishing offenders.


The experiences of female and Black and Minority Ethnic Prisoners.



Other forms of detention, such as immigration detention.


Use of force in prison and places where people are deprived of liberty.


Monitoring and oversight of prisons and places of detention.


Beyond Prison Walls – consider how imprisonment reaches beyond prison walls, affecting ex-prisoners' lives after their have served their sentence, and affecting their families and communities.


Approaches, rationales and justifications for prison – and / or arguments for defunding and abolition.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activity2211 x 2 hour weekly lecture/seminar (or 1 hour lecture + 1 hour seminar)
Guided independent study40Reading assignments and preparing for the tutorials
Guided independent study20Preparing for essay assignment
Guided independent study15Additional reading/research
Guided independent study53Preparation for and completion of all exams

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).