Skip to main content

Restorative and Alternative Justice (Level 5)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Sarah Lamble
  • Assessment: a 3000-word essay or case study analysis (100%)

Module description

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to contemporary debates around restorative and alternative justice. Starting with a theoretical overview of the motivations, principles and values of restorative and transformative justice, it then proceeds by way of case study analysis, offering a number of specific empirical examples of practices in context. Exploring both state-based and non-state-based strategies, the module provides a foundation from which to critically assess alternative forms of justice in contrast to conventional state-based ‘law, order and punishment’ strategies. It also provides a theoretically informed, yet empirically grounded foundation from which to explore the limits and possibilities of restorative and transformative justice policy and practice.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Why Alternative Justice: Reviewing the Limits of Conventional Criminal Justice?
  • Working Inside and Outside ‘the State’: Key Debates in Policy and Practice
  • Case Study 1: Restorative Justice for State-Level Injustices - South Africa
  • Case Study 2: Indigenous Community Justice - Nigeria and South America
  • Case Study 3: Family Group Conferencing - New Zealand and Australia
  • Case Study 4: Victim Offender Mediation - UK
  • Case Study 5: Sentencing Circles - Canada
  • Case Study 6: Community Accountability Groups - USA
  • Case Study 7: Circles of Support and Accountability - Canada and UK
  • Addressing Systemic Injustice: Transformative Justice and Structural Change

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand the key principles, values and practices of restorative and transformative justice
  • appreciate the diversity and range of restorative and alternative justice approaches
  • be able to identify some of the key challenges and debates in policy and practice around restorative and alternative justice approaches
  • be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of state-based and non-state-based alternatives to conventional criminal justice
  • appreciate the social, political, historical and economic context of recent trends in restorative and transformative justice
  • be able to analyse, evaluate and compare a range of theoretical approaches
  • be able to identify strengths, weaknesses, values and limitations in current approaches to restorative justice policy and practice
  • appreciate the importance of social and cultural contexts for understanding social policy and practice.

Recommended reading

  • Cunneen, Chris and Carolyn Hoyle (2010) Debating Restorative Justice. Oxford, Hart Publishing.
  • Chen, Ching-In, Jai Dulani and Leah Laksmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (eds) (2008) The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities. Brooklyn, NY, South End Press.
  • Johnstone, Gerry (2011) Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debates (2nd Edition). London and New York, Routledge.
  • Mclaughlin, Eugene, Ross Fergusson, Gordon Hughes and Louise Wesmarland (eds) (2003) Restorative Justice: Critical Issues. London, Sage.
  • Shapland, Joanna, Gwen Robinson and Angela Sorsby (2011) Restorative Justice in Practice. London and New York.
  • Strang, H and John Braithwaite (eds) (2001) Restorative Justice and Civil Society. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Zehr, Howard and Barb Toews (eds) (2004) Critical Issues in Restorative Justice. Mosney, New York, Criminal Justice Press.