SOSC1014 - Ethics

Criminology Unit


One trimester



Credit points: 




Mode(s) of delivery:




Unit Objective

To introduce students to the moral bases of the law and to apply ethical precepts to professional behaviour for persons working within criminal justice and public safety areas 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Outline ‘moral judgement’ and its application to law;
  • Understand morality in law and liberty and the ‘rule of law’;
  • Analyse ethical conduct and professionalism and how these concepts apply to professional codes of conduct.

Unit Content

The unit commences with an outline of the historical development of Ethics.  The student will examine critically the moral basis of the law and apply ethical precepts to professional behaviour within the criminal justice and related areas.  This involves distinguishing critically between ‘analytical’ and ‘normative’ jurisprudence and delineating and contrasting the major precepts of ‘natural law’ and ‘legal positivist’ approaches to the conception of law.

The unit will describe critically the connections between the morality and law, and define the notions of rights and duties, obligation and responsibility, justice and justification. The relationship between the notion of human liberty and the rule of law will be addressed. The student will examine the argument that there is a moral obligation to obey the law even where the law may be deemed to be ineffective or unethical.  The unit will include a critical review of contemporary ethical issues and controversies related to criminal justice.

Students will then be introduced to the features of various codes of ethics in the criminal justice field and related areas.  Such areas will include ‘Ethical Standards of Psychologists, the ‘Code of Ethics’ adopted by Human Services Workers, Code of Ethics for guidance of Victoria Police and various codes relevant to the corrections field.  To conclude, the student will be required to draft a Code of Ethics applicable to an area within the field of criminal justice or public safety.

Unit Workload

1 x 2 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial each week for 12 weeks. The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of trimester.