This module is a resource for lecturers  


Student assessment


This section provides suggestions for a post-class assignment for the purpose of assessing student understanding of the Module. Suggestions for pre-class or in-class assignments are provided in the Exercises section.

Assessment questions

  • To assess students' understanding of the Module, possible essay/examination questions could include:
  • "Penal populism and 'tough on crime' policies have led to an era of mass incarceration". Discuss.  
  • To what extent can non-custodial measures achieve the differing aims of criminal punishment?
  • Assess the extent to which decriminalization and diversion strategies can reduce the reach of the criminal justice system.
  • "Pretrial detention is one of the most significant challenges for prison systems worldwide." Discuss.
  • Consider the range of community sanctions described in this Module. In what way are they restrictive of liberty?
  • Critically evaluate the pros and cons of alternatives to imprisonment.
  • To what extent do community sanctions offer a more effective and humane alternative to imprisonment for children, women, the mentally ill and offenders with drug use disorders?
  • To what extent can alternatives to imprisonment help to address the prison numbers crisis?
  • "Alternatives to imprisonment offer a human rights approach to criminal justice." Discuss.

Assessed presentations

Assessed presentations provide a useful basis from which to assess whether students have understood the different topics covered in the classroom. Lecturers should set down a clear time-limit for assessed presentations (for example: 20 minutes, including five minutes for two to three questions from the audience). Assessment may be based on the following three criteria:

  • the delivery of the presentation, including pace, engagement with the audience, use of visual materials, handouts etc. (20%);
  • a clear and logical research plan, identifying key sources, evidence of critical thinking etc. (20%); and,
  • the overall content and coherence of the main argument and presentation (60%).

Topics for assessed presentations could be based on the 'key questions' or discussion points provided in the PowerPoint presentation for this Module. Students should be encouraged to choose one of the topics for their presentation. The key questions noted in the PowerPoint slides include:

  • To what extent should non-custodial measures be referred to as ambulant sanctions?
  • To what extent can non-custodial measures achieve the different aims of criminal punishment?
  • What actions or behaviour could be decriminalized in your country?
  • What are the main challenges in implementing alternatives to pretrial detention?
  • To what extent can 'front door' measures fulfil the purposes of punishment?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of 'back door' measures?
  • How can the disadvantages of alternatives to imprisonment be effectively addressed?
  • What examples of promising practice and alternatives to imprisonment exist in your country?
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