Criminal justice: Process and politics

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 19:00-21:50

Lecture venue

Course description

Criminal justice refers to those formal mechanisms of a society that are used to enforce its laws, adjudicate criminal offences, and deliver prescribed outcomes for criminal conduct. In other words, criminal justice is the means by which justice is delivered to those who society has deemed criminals.

This course will provide a critical overview of what criminal justice is, the politics surrounding criminal justice, and the actors and means by which justice is delivered. The course will also cover those topics and areas where criminal justice systems struggle to appear just and measured, as well as discuss contemporary views on systems that go beyond the traditional notion of criminal justice. The course will cover topics that are both local and global to reflect on how crime and its control is locally situated and universally undertaken.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of theoretical debates about criminal justice and criminal control.
  2. Obtain robust knowledge about recent developments in criminal justice and be able to assess competing assumptions and rationales in crime control and criminal justice policies, practices and their potential outcomes.
  3. Develop reasoned arguments and an accurate analyse of major issues in criminal justice systems around the world, but especially in Hong Kong and mainland China


Individual Topical Essay30%
Group Presentation on Local Topics30%

Required reading

  1. Farmer, L. (2018). Civility, obligation and criminal law. In D. Matthews & S. Veitch (Eds.), Law, Obligation, Community. (Ch. 10). Routledge.
  2. Wozniak, K. H. (2016). Public opinion and the politics of criminal justice policy making: Reasons for optimism, pessimism, and uncertainty. Criminology & Public Policy, 15, 179.
  3. Xue, S. (2005). China’s legislative system and information: An overview. Government Information Quarterly, 22(3), 322-341.
  4. Varghese, J. (2010). Police structure: A comparative study of policing models. SSRN Electronic Journal. Available at:
  5. Robertson, O. N., McCluskey, J. D., Smith, S. H., & Uchida, C. D. (2022). Body cameras and adjudication: Views of prosecutors and public defenders. Criminal Justice Review (OnlineFirst).
  6. Rakoff, J. S. (2017). Why prosecutors rule the criminal justice system—And what can be done about it. Northwestern University Law Review, 111(6), 1429–1436.
  7. Aharoni, E., Kleider-Offutt, H. M., Brosnan, S. F., & Hoffman, M. B. (2022). Nudges for Judges: An Experiment on the Effect of Making Sentencing Costs Explicit. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. Available at:
  8. Dikötter, F. (2002). The promise of repentance. Prison reform in modern China. British Journal of Criminology, 42(2), 240-249.
  9. Nelken, D. & Hamilton, C. (2022). New directions in comparative criminal justice. In D. Nelken & C. Hamilton (Eds.), Research Handbook of Comparative Criminal Justice. (pp. 2–28). ElgarOnline.
  10. Lu, H., & Zhang, L. (2005). Death penalty in China: The law and the practice. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33(4), 367-376.
  11. Alden, E. (2017). Is border enforcement effective? What we know and what it means. Journal of Migration and Human Security, 5(2), 481–490.
  12. Weitzer, R., & Tuch, S. A. (1999). Race, class, and perceptions of discrimination by the police. Crime & Delinquency, 45(4), 494-507.
  13. Peng, Y. & Cheng, J. (2022). Ethnic disparity in Chinese theft sentencing: A modified focal concerns perspective. China Review, 22(3), 47–71.
  14. Gelles, R. J. (1977). Power, sex, and violence: The case of marital rape. Family Coordinator, 339-347.
  15. Shay, G., & Strader, J. K. (2012). Queer (In) Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 102(1), 171-194.
  16. Wong, D. S. (2000). Juvenile crime and responses to delinquency in Hong Kong. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 44(3), 279-292.
  17. Holzer, K. J., AbiNader, M. A. , Vaughn, M. G., Salas-Wright, C. P., & Oh, S. Crime and violence in older adults: Findings from the 2002 to 2017 national survey on drug use and health. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37(1–2), 764–781.
  18. Revolving Doors. (2022). Policy briefing: Exploring the links between neurodiversity and the revolving door of crisis and crime. Available at:
  19. Scott, D. (2014). Beyond criminal justice. In J. M. Moore, B. Rolston, D. Scott & M. Tomlinson. Beyond Criminal Justice: An Anthology of Abolitionist Papers. (1–12). European Press Group.

Recommended reading

  1. Chui, E. W. H., & Lo, T. W. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding criminal justice in Hong Kong (Taylor & Francis)
  2. Hobbs, T. (1651). Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. (Available at:

Course co-ordinator and teachers

  • Yujing Fun

    Part-time Lecturer

Student view

This course allowed me to gain a ‘backstage’ insight into the social process that produces criminal policy, which gave me a deeper understanding of the magic of power and politics in society.

– Mavis Yip Oi Ying, 1st year MSocSc Criminology student