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Legitimacy and Effectiveness of Sentencing and Corrections


Entry requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the master’s programme in Criminal Justice.

Brief course description

Sentencing and corrections are two interrelated subject areas. “Sentencing” is the process by which criminal sanctions are imposed in individual cases following a criminal conviction. The term “corrections” deals with the implementation and evaluation of criminal sentences after they are handed down. This course will examine sentencing and corrections from international and historical perspectives, from the viewpoint of legal sentencing structures and substantive laws on sentencing, from theoretical and policy perspectives, and with close attention to many problem-specific areas. Moreover, recent developments in sentencing law and practice will be discussed, thereby offering you a state-of-the-art insight into converging and diverging trends in sentencing and corrections within an international context.
Topics that you will be invited to explore include: the legitimacy of sentencing, sentencing theories and their application, risk-based sentencing, the relationship between sanctions and crime, the nature, scope and function of corrections, the effectiveness of corrections, the consequences of prisoner re-entry . These topics will be considered as they play out in current political and policy debates.
Basic elements of the criminology curriculum will be integrated in the current course. Methodology and statistics of criminological research will be used in different group assignments. We will closely focus on the organization of the correctional system and judicial policy in which there is room for integration of the different elements of justice, policy and organization.

Learning objectives

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate the legitimacy of sentencing and sentencing factors by applying moral justifications theories of sentencing and rule of law perspectives, and discuss the role of the public opinion on sentencing in relation to the legitimacy of sentencing. Evaluate and compare the state of the art in scientific theories and results of empirical studies discussed during this course concerning (a) sentencing, (b) execution of corrections, and (c) effectiveness of sentencing and corrections;

  • Assess and analyze the state of the art in methodology and cross-national comparative data on (a) sentencing research, (b) execution of correction research, and (c) effectiveness of corrections and sentencing using descriptive techniques of analysis and, upon request, multivariate techniques.

  • Apply the above mentioned knowledge in different contexts when developing and implementing criminal justice policies.


Choose bachelor and master.


The course consists of a weekly lecture and a weekly seminar. You are expected to prepare for the lectures by reading the literature assigned. The seminars focus on the (group) assignments, which will be made available through Blackboard en together form the portfolio. Assignments have to be made prior to the seminar and will be presented and discussed during the seminar. Attendance of the seminars is compulsory, and proper preparation and active participation is expected.


Assessment Methods

  • An individual portfolio consisting of weekly assignments and reflections on the lecture, assigned literature and assignments.

  • Final written examination with open questions

Course grades are determined by

  • Portfolio (partial exam: 30%)

  • Written examination with open questions (final exam: 70%)

  • Because the seminars contain practical exercises, weekly meetings must be attended in order to pass.

  • All components should be at least 5,5 in order to complete the course successfully.

  • There will be a retake for both the written examination and the portfolio.

  • Depending on the number of participants, the course coordinator can decide that the retake for the written examination will be an oral examination. In that case, you will be timely notified.

  • The grade of the portfolio will remain valid in the following academic year.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations), on the condition that this course is included in the compulsory components of the degree programme. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course. Please contact the Student Administration Office (OIC) for more information.

Procedure for handing in the assignments

  • All assignments must be submitted via SafeAssign (Blackboard).


The use of Blackboard is required.

Employability and (academic) career

Participants train their skills in analyzing data, presenting their research outcomes, debating, and developing criminal justice policies. The following skills that play a central role during this course are directly transferrable to the labor market:

  • writing skills

  • academic/research skills

  • critical thinking

  • policy development

Reading list

Mandatory literature

  • Assigned literature and the course guideline, both of which will be published on Blackboard.


Students can enroll for this course via uSis


  • Coordinator: mw. dr. mr. S.G.C. van Wingerden

  • Availability: Monday till Thursday, through the secretariat

  • Telephone: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminology

  • Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30

  • Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail: