Criminal justice: Policy and practice

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Monday 9:30 - 11:20

Lecture venue

Course description

Criminal justice refers to the agencies of the government charged with enforcing law, adjudicating crime, and correcting criminal conduct. The major components of the criminal justice system are the police, courts and correctional agencies. Although society maintains other forms of social control such as the family, school, and church, only the criminal justice system has the power to control crime and punish criminals. However, can the police arrest all criminals? Does crime pay? Does punishment deter? This course is specially designed to critically examine whether the criminal justice system is an effective way to deal with crime.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of theoretical debates about criminal justice
  2. Develop a detailed knowledge about recent developments in criminal justice.
  3. Accurately analyze major issues in the criminal justice system in Hong Kong and mainland China.


Individual Paper30%
Tutorial and Class Participation20%

Required reading

Students are expected to attend class and tutorial having carried out the relevant readings for the class. Each week, there will be two or three key readings that students must read in preparation, as well as a list of carefully selected additional readings. There is no single text that covers all the themes and issues examined. Nevertheless, you may find Chui, E. W. H., & Lo, T. W. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding criminal justice in Hong Kong (Taylor & Francis) and Wang, P. (2017). The Chinese Mafia: Organized Crime, Corruption, and Extra-Legal Protection (Oxford University Press) particularly useful as key texts.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

This course equipped me with basic knowledge about the three main components of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts and correction. I learned that the functions performed by these government institutions, such as sentencing and punishment, are heavily influenced by the criminal justice model that the jurisdiction adopts. From a sociological perspective, we can see that the goal of punishment stresses on educating and re-integrating offenders back to society rather than deterrence.

– Teresa Lau, 4th year Criminology Major undergraduate student