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SO360-15 State Crime, Human Rights and Global Wrongs

Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Teodora Todorova
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description


Module aims

The main aim of this module is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between state crime, human rights and human rights violations. The module explores sociological and criminological approaches to the study of state deviance, crime, human rights and human rights violations in contemporary society.

Students will develop the necessary analytical, theoretical and critical skills to examine a range of conceptual and theoretical issues around state crime, human rights and human rights violations. The module critically engages with a range of pertinent questions related to state crime and human rights including but not limited to: To what extent can the state be defined as criminal? What is the state’s role in promoting and aiding and abetting crime, deviance, and human rights violations? What is the impact of state criminality on the implementation and security of human rights? How successful are international legal instruments in promoting the protection and security of human rights? What impact does ‘a culture of human rights’ have on the extent to which human rights can be secured in practice?

Critically evaluating the above questions is achieved through an engagement with a range of historical and contemporary case studies which examine state complicity in crimes related to (including but not limited to) genocide, apartheid, terror and torture.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Part One: Theory and Context

  1. Introduction: Defining State Crime
  2. Human Rights and Global Wrongs
    Part Two: Conceptual Case Studies
  3. Genocide
  4. State Terror and Terrorism
  5. Torture
  7. Political Imprisonment and Indefinite Detention
  8. Police Brutality
  9. Apartheid: a question of economy or politics?
  10. Statelessness and Human Rights
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understanding of the key sociological and criminological theories and concepts of state crime, deviance, human rights and human rights violations.
  • Ability to identify, interpret and critically evaluate different disciplinary theories of state crime, human rights and human rights violations and to relate these to specific debates and issues covered in the module.
  • Ability to organise and present oral arguments and facilitate classroom discussion in seminars.
  • Ability to organise and present written information clearly and coherently through their essay or exam writing.
  • Develop advanced research and organisational skills by using library e-journal and other on-line resources.
  • Develop advanced research skills through critical literature review and essay and/or exam writing.
Indicative reading list

Andreopoulos, G. (ed.) (1994) Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Appadurai, A. (2002) ‘Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization’, in Hinton, A. L. (ed.) Genocide: An Anthropological Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
Binder, A. and Scharf, P. (1980) ‘The Violent Police-Citizen Encounter’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 452, 111–21.
Cassese, A. (1986) International Law in a Divided World, Oxford: Clarendon.
Cassesse, A. (2003) International Criminal Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chalk, F. and Jonassohn, K. (1990) The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case
Studies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Chandler, D. (2002) From Kosovo To Kabul: Human Rights and International Intervention.
London: Pluto.
Cohen, S. (1993) ‘Human Rights and Crimes of the State: the Culture of Denial’, Australian
and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 26, 97–115.
Cohen, S. (2001) States of Denial. Cambridge: Polity.
Conroy, J. (2000) Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture. Los Angeles:
University of California Press.
Day, E. L. and Vandiver, M. (2000) ‘Criminology and Genocide Studies: Notes on what Might
have Been and what Still could Be’. Crime, Law and Social Change, 34, 43–59.
Friedrichs, D. O. (1995) ‘State Crime or Governmental Crime: Making Sense of the
Conceptual Confusion’, in Ross, J. I. (ed.) Controlling State Crime: An Introduction.
New York: Garland.
George, A. (ed.) (1991) Western State Terrorism, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Green, P. and Ward, T. (2000) ‘State Crime, Human Rights and the Limits of Criminology’,
Social Justice, 27, 101–15.
Green, Penny and Ward, Tony (2004) State crime: governments, violence and corruption. London: Pluto Press.
Jamieson, R. (1998) ‘Towards a Criminology of War in Europe’, in Ruggiero, V., South, N.
and Taylor, I. (eds) The New European Criminology. London: Routledge.
Kauzlarich, D., Matthews, R. A. and Miller, W. J. (2001) ‘Toward a Victimology of State
Crime’, Critical Criminology, 10, 173–94.
Schwendinger, H. and Schwendinger, J. (1975) ‘Defenders of Order or Guardians of Human
Rights?’, in Taylor, I., Walton, P. and Young, J. (eds) Critical Criminology, London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Subject specific skills
  • a systematic understanding of key aspects of the sociological and criminological study of state crime and human rights, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of defined aspects of a discipline

  • an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a sociological and criminological framework

  • conceptual understanding that enables the student:

  • to devise and sustain arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and
    techniques, some of which are at the forefront of the discipline
  • to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or
    equivalent advanced scholarship, in the discipline
    *an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge
    *the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (for example, refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline).
Transferable skills

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
*apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects

  • critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem
  • communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
    And holders will have:
  • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
  • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts
  • the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a
    professional or equivalent nature.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading set course materials and note taking in preparation for class discussion.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Assessed Essay 100%

Students can choose their essay question from a list available in the module handbook or they can come up with their own original essay question in consultation with and to be approved by the module convenor.

Feedback on assessment

Feedback on the formative 1,000-word critical article review will be given in written form and students will be encouraged to improve on and include this work in their final assessment. Students will also be invited to bring and discuss an essay plan to the final seminar of the module.


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
  • Year 4 of USOA-L306 BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year)
  • UHIA-VL16 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 3 of VL16 History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 4 of VL16 History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
  • Year 3 of UHIA-VL15 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with a term in Venice)
  • Year 3 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology
  • Year 4 of USOA-L312 Undergraduate Sociology and Quantitative Methods with Intercalated Year

This module is Unusual option for:

  • Year 3 of UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics

This module is Option list A for:

  • ULAA-ML34 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 3 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 4 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 4 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology
  • Year 3 of USOA-L311 Undergraduate Sociology and Quantitative Methods

This module is Option list B for:

  • UPOA-ML13 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology
    • Year 3 of ML13 Politics and Sociology
    • Year 3 of ML13 Politics and Sociology
  • Year 4 of UPOA-ML14 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology (with Intercalated year)

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 3 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology
  • Year 4 of UHIA-VL14 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with Year Abroad)