Criminology COIL Project on Punishment and Society with California State University


This unique COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) opportunity is open to second year undergraduates from the programme of Criminology and Criminology with Psychology, originally registered with module CRIM2001 Prison, Punishment and Society with an interest in learning more about prison and punishment in the US. Upon successful application, the students will be enrolled onto CRIM2011 Prison, Punishment and Society (COIL).


Criminology students from DMU and California State University, Chico will co-learn the module of ‘Prison, Punishment and Society’. The module will explore current debates in criminology drawing on both theoretical and empirical research and a comparison of how penal systems operate in the UK and the United States, as well as other countries in the Global South.

Students will explore a range of topics such as the nature and purpose of punishment, sentencing practices and decision-making processes, subjective experience of imprisonment, alternatives to prison as well as the possibilities for reform in both countries. These themes will be explored over 8-9 weekly virtual sessions and online activities requiring approximately 14 hours of commitment from participants.

During the COIL project, students will review case studies in small groups, debate and discuss the cultural basis and legal context for different practices and interpretations. Students will engage with theories of punishment and its historical, social and political context whilst comparing alternatives in both countries. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to critically analyse the ideologies behind the concepts of prison, prisoners and imprisonment to examine how these are informed by socio-political factors in the Global South.

This is an exciting, unique opportunity for DMU students to interact, engage and collaborate with students at California State University, Chico. Lecturers from DMU and CSU Chico, as well as those from external organisations will contribute to this learning activity.

Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of recent developments and contemporary debates on imprisonment and penal policy
  • Apply different sociological theories to the critical analysis of key issues surrounding imprisonment and penal policy
  • Critically appraise the functions and purposes of imprisonment

Module Activities:

  • Icebreaker Activity #1 “A day in my life”, to be completed individually
  • Icebreaker Activity #2 “Rehabilitation Revolution,” to be completed individually
  • Group Project on assigned topics, to be completed as a group of 4 students
  • Reflection Essay, to be completed individually; composed of two 500-word essay (four essays as required for students registered on CRIM2001) and one 500-word course reflection.

Contact details: Dr. Tian Ma –


If you would like to participate in this project, click the ‘Apply now’ button at the bottom of this page. You will receive more details about the activity to your DMU e-mail account shortly after the deadline. Please, check your inbox as well as junk inbox regularly.

Key information

  • Application deadline: Friday 19 August 2022 (NOW CLOSED)
  • Start date: Monday 03 October 2022
  • End date: Friday 16 December 2022
  • COIL Project duration: 14 hours

If you have any questions about this opportunity please contact us at