Postgraduate Taught

Incarceration Studies

A student standing in the middle of a prison wing with a corridor of locked cells behind her
The interior of a prison corridor
Looped barbed wire across the top of a long fence
An exterior shot of the red bricked Wilberforce House in Hull
homeless man with dog on street
Explore incarceration in all its forms on a programme that combines teaching in cultural studies, film, history, sociology, criminology, visual culture, English, and creative writing.
Study the theory behind the four Cs of incarceration: Culture; Criminology; Creative-Critical practices; and Community, with this hands-on and thought-provoking course.
Topics include contemporary prisons and historic slavery to pandemic lockdowns and modern-day trafficking.
Get out of the classroom and spend time studying in unique environments including the Wilberforce Institute, HMP Hull and at our own Cultures of Incarceration Centre.
The programme boasts a variety of modules that look at marginalised voices that have been sidelined throughout history in the UK, US and across the world.
A student standing in the middle of a prison wing with a corridor of locked cells behind her
The interior of a prison corridor
Looped barbed wire across the top of a long fence
An exterior shot of the red bricked Wilberforce House in Hull
homeless man with dog on street

Curious about the concept of “Incarceration”? Want to explore what it means in both modern-day and historical contexts? Come and explore the four “big ideas”; Culture, Criminology, Creative-Critical Practices and, Community.

Combining traditional seminar classes with unique “real-world” materials like podcasts and long-form articles, the course explores what incarceration can mean to different communities. From contemporary prisons and historic slavery to pandemic lockdowns and modern-day trafficking, we’ll discuss it all.

  • Join the research community

    at Cultures of Incarceration Centre

  • Access to resources

    at the Wilberforce Institute

  • Inclusive curriculum

    focused on marginalised voices

  • A varied course

    using real-life examples

  • Authentic

    assessments to enhance workplace skills

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Course overview
Module options

About this course

Whilst you may think you know the definition of “incarceration” as being in jail or prison, the word has a whole host of other contexts which you’ll explore on this programme.

You’ll take the concept of “incarceration” as a focal point to spark active discussion and analysis. You and your peers will also explore the four Cs of "big ideas" of incarceration: Culture; Criminology; Creative-critical practices; and Community.

The programme boasts a vibrant and highly inclusive curriculum that looks at marginalised voices and experiences that have been sidelined in the UK, the US and across the world. This includes those who have experienced miscarriages of justice, terrorist attacks, false imprisonment and discrimination.

As well as working outside of the University, you’ll get the chance to work in the Cultures of Incarceration Centre. This unique space gives you the opportunity to attend talks, present at seminars, and network with like-minded students and professionals.

The course helps graduates become excellent, empowered and empathetic global communicators and researchers. If you’re enthusiastic about debating and amplifying voices who need support, this course is for you.

Choose your modules

For a full Masters degree, you'll study 180 credits over the duration of your course. Some programmes offer a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) qualification or a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) qualification. For a PGDip, you'll study 120 credits, and for a PGCert, you'll study 60 credits.

Incarceration Culture in Context: Research Methods and Theory in Interdisciplinary Studies

On this module, you will examine and scrutinise a broad range of texts that address incarceration. This may include poetry by African political prisoners, Orange is the New Black (TV), artwork from Guantanamo Bay, Caribbean memorials to slave rebellions, Native American captivity stories, modern slavery documentaries and photography documenting Northern Ireland.

 

Core30 credits

UK and US Prison Cultures: Redemption and Resistance

This module will analyse a range of cultural responses to the prison experience, from film to poetry to music, to understand and explain the US and UK prison systems as well as US/UK history and society more widely. The module will include guest speakers who have first-hand experience of living/working in US or UK prisons, and who can speak to the module’s interest in prison cultural texts.

Core30 credits

Dissertation

What fascinates you? You will make an original contribution to research by designing, carrying out and writing up a project on a topic of your choice, supported by your dissertation supervisor.

Core60 credits

Competing and Comparative Justice: Values and Ethics in the Criminal Justice Process

This module introduces the complexity of ethical problems that arise in the criminal justice arena, challenging preconceptions of what is “right” and “wrong” in a range of situations in the UK and abroad. You will critically analyse some of the key debates about values underpinning law-making and criminal justice.

Optional30 credits

Crimes of the Powerful

Explore the crimes of the powerful between 1965 and 2022. The module will introduce you to relevant theories and case studies, which can then be applied and evaluated in terms of their ability to explain crimes of the powerful. This module will consider resistance to crimes of the powerful and the potential of criminology and social harm in both explaining and reducing harms of the powerful.

Optional30 credits

UK and US Prison Cultures: Redemption and Resistance

This module will analyse a range of cultural responses to the prison experience, from film to poetry to music, to understand and explain the US and UK prison systems as well as US/UK history and society more widely. The module will include guest speakers who have first-hand experience of living/working in US or UK prisons, and who can speak to the module’s interest in prison cultural texts.

Optional30 credits

Through the Prison Gate

This module explores the experience of the transition from prison to the community. In doing so, this module identifies and examines the often-challenging nature of the rehabilitation and reintegration process for people in the criminal justice system. It will consider relevant legislation, theoretical debate and the precariousness of life after prison. 

Optional30 credits

Immigration Control: Carcerality, and Confinement

This module is concerned with the immigration and asylum processes, and incarceration and confinement. The module seeks to interrogate and critically examine the immigration and asylum systems as a frontier of incarceration and carcerality. It will also encourage students to think critically and creatively about reform and social change.

Optional30 credits

Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Reflecting Reality

On this module, you will be introduced to a wide range of non-fiction prose, including travel writing, true crime, narrative history and biography. You will produce a portfolio of non-fiction and reflective writings yourself and will also be expected to partake in guest talks/writing workshops with tutors who have taught for many years in prison and in other contexts of incarceration. 

Optional30 credits
9 Modules

Entry requirements

What do I need?

Typical offer
2:2 in relevant subject area

Typically 2:2 or above, (or international equivalent) in American Studies, English, History, Criminology or other Arts & Humanities/Social Science equivalent.

If you’re an undergraduate student at Hull, you’re guaranteed a fast-track route to this postgraduate degree, as long as you meet the entry requirements.

In order to ensure our students have a rich learning and student experience, most of our programmes have a mix of domestic and international students. We reserve the right to close applications early to either group if application volumes suggest that this blend cannot be achieved.

What do I need?

Typical offer
2:2 in relevant subject area

Typically 2:2 or above, (or international equivalent) in American Studies, English, History, Criminology or other Arts & Humanities/Social Science equivalent.

If you require a student visa to study or if your first language is not English you will be required to provide acceptable evidence of your English language proficiency level.

This course requires academic IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 5.5 in each skill. See other English language proficiency qualifications accepted by the University of Hull.

If your English currently does not reach the University’s required standard for this programme, you may be interested in one of our English language courses.

Visit your country page to find out more about our entry requirements.

Fees & funding

How much is it?

Additional costs you may have to pay

Your tuition fees will cover most costs associated with your programme. There are some extra costs that you might have to pay, or choose to pay, depending on your programme of study and the decisions you make:

  • Books (you can borrow books on your reading lists from the library, but you may buy your own)
  • Optional field trips
  • Study abroad (incl. travel costs, accommodation, visas, immunisation)
  • Placement costs (incl. travel costs and accommodation)
  • Student visas (international students)
  • Laptop (you’ll have access to laptops and PCs on campus, but you may want your own)
  • Printing and photocopying
  • Professional-body membership
  • Graduation (gown hire and photography)

Remember, you’ll still need to take into account your living costs. This could include accommodation, travel, food and more.

How do I pay for it?

How much is it?

Additional costs you may have to pay

Your tuition fees will cover most costs associated with your programme. There are some extra costs that you might have to pay, or choose to pay, depending on your programme of study and the decisions you make:

  • Books (you can borrow books on your reading lists from the library, but you may buy your own)
  • Optional field trips
  • Study abroad (incl. travel costs, accommodation, visas, immunisation)
  • Placement costs (incl. travel costs and accommodation)
  • Student visas (international students)
  • Laptop (you’ll have access to laptops and PCs on campus, but you may want your own)
  • Printing and photocopying
  • Professional-body membership
  • Graduation (gown hire and photography)

Remember, you’ll still need to take into account your living costs. This could include accommodation, travel, food and more.

How do I pay for it?

Our scholarships

We offer a number of awards, bursaries and scholarships for eligible students. They’re awarded for a variety of reasons including academic achievement and/or to help those on lower incomes.

Scholarships and bursaries are separate to student loans. And the best bit is, you don’t pay a penny back.

Find out more about our scholarships

Alumni Postgraduate Scholarship

University of Hull undergraduates progressing to a taught masters course may receive a 25% discount on the cost of their tuition fees.

Find out if you’re eligible by visiting the University of Hull Alumni Postgraduate Scholarship page.

International Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries for international students.

To find out more and see if you're eligible, please visit the International Scholarships and Bursaries page.

Take a look at our facilities

Brynmor Jones Library

Our 7-storey library is home to 1 million+ books, extensive digital resources drawn from libraries and archives across the world, and stunning panoramic views of the city from the 7th floor.

Cultures of Incarceration Centre

The CIC looks at the responses to the experience of incarceration across cultures and continents and work with a range of external organisations like schools, prisons and community groups globally.

Reading Room

You’ll find the Reading Room on the first floor of our library. It offers a comfortable space and a quiet environment to study – away from the hustle and bustle of the campus.

Study Rooms

You'll find over 1,000 work spaces in our library. From boardroom-style meeting venues with big-screen PCs, to informal group-study areas and interactive whiteboards.

See more in our virtual tour

Look around

prison bars

Look around

Look around

Brynmor Jones Library
prison bars
Brynmor Jones Library Reading Room
Brynmor Jones Library Group Study Room
Ethan Harding in Brynmor Jones Library

Future prospects

During your studies, you'll become an empowered and empathetic voice in the field of incarceration. Develop your research and communication skills alongside, and you'll be well on the way to a career in amplifying those voices who need support, such as those who have experienced miscarriages of justice, terrorist attacks, false imprisonment and discrimination.

The course is diverse, so you’ll develop a range of knowledge and skills that will help you stand out in the job market. If you find yourself enjoying the subject, you can explore further education and PhD courses related to incarceration.

From research, teamwork and project management to writing and presentation skills, even if you don’t choose to progress to a PhD course, you’ll be ready to face the world of work with a new way of thinking.

University of Hull Open Day

Your next steps

Like what you’ve seen? Then it’s time to apply.

Make your application online now, and our admissions team will get back to you as soon as possible to make you an offer.

Not ready to apply?

We regularly deliver virtual and on-campus events to help you discover your perfect postgraduate course, whether it’s a subject you already love or something completely different. Our events are an opportunity for you to chat to tutors and current students and find out about the career options a postgraduate degree could lead to.

You may also be interested in…

All modules presented on this course page are subject to availability and this list may change at any time.

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