Shattered Glass

An interdisciplinary journey through the developments of crime, war and justice in the globalised world

Module details

  • Offered to 3rd & 4th Years
  • Thursdays 16.00-18.00
  • South Kensington Campus 
  • 2 term module worth 7.5 ECTS
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

This module is a journey. A journey through the conceptions and developments of crime and conflict in the contemporary globalised world and their difficult relations with justice. Our horizons will be highly interdisciplinary. Our compass will be the ideas of some of the most influential thinkers of the last centuries, such as Beccaria, Kant, Bentham, Thoreau, Fromm, Rawls, Foucault, Chomsky, and Bauman, amongst others. We will consider a short history of punishment and torture, the evolutions of warfare after the horrors of WWII, the globalisation of crime and conflict, the multi-faceted relations between punishment and the human body, the use of biomedical treatments as criminal sanctions, the conceptions of offenders as abnormal, enemies or monsters and the many uses of robotics, genetics and cybernetics in crime, in the fight against crime and in warfare. The methodology will be highly interactive and problem-oriented, in order to experience the problematic aspects of these phenomena in their crude reality. To this purpose, the learning materials will not be just academic writings, as we will rely also on journalism, fiction, TV and radio broadcasts. At the end of our journey, we should be able to assess whether such developments, also fostered by impressive technological evolutions, can be considered cultural and legal progress towards a better achievement of justice or rather regressions evocative of unlawful mechanisms of coercion typical of more barbaric ages.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

Atomic Bomb

  • Acquire familiarity with interdisciplinary approaches through class preparation and discussion
  • Attain knowledge and understanding of the major evolutions in both classic and ground-breaking theoretical frameworks
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of appropriate legal terminology, through exercises such as law reform, mock
  • trial, and written essay.
  • Find, read and interpret legal sources and materials independently and apply them to real-life problems laid out in assessments.
  • Apply key concepts, research, and feedback to write an analytical essay.


Indicative core content

  • Introduction to Crime and Punishment, Conflict and Power, Justice and Justification
  • The Body of the Condemned from the Iron Chair to the Judge’s Bench. A Short History of Punishment from Torture to Sentencing
  • To Retribute, or to Prevent, That is the Question: Justifications and Functions of Punishment 
  • Your Freedom Ends where My Nose Begins: the Moral Limits to State Coercion and Criminalisation
  • The Rule of War: An Introduction to War, Its Laws and Its Justice 
  • Yin and Yang: Field Trip to the Imperial War Museum and to the Tibetan Peace Garden
  • After the Holocaust The "War on War”, the Age of Rights, International Criminal Justice and the Fading of War into Crime
  • The Revolution of Globalisation: The New Frontiers of Power, Crime and Fear 
  • Criminals, Enemies, Aliens, and Monsters. Dehumanisation, Exclusion and Elimination in the Fight against Crime in the Global Era
  • Terrorist Actions and Terrifying Reactions: The Problem of Terrorism 
  • From the War on War to the War on Crime: the Fading of Crime into War
  • The Return of Torture. New Bodies, New Scaffolds, Old Spectacle
  • Transforming the Monster or A Clockwork Orange. The Manipulation of the Body as Criminal Sanction
  • Evil Genes: Genetics, Crime and the Law
  • Artificial Intelligence. Replacing the Human Body: Robots, Drones and Automata 
  • Hannibal Elephants v. 2.0: Cyber-crime and Cyber-War


  • Problem-based exercise (30%)
  • Final practical test (20%)
  • Final written essay (50%)

Key information

  • Requirements: Students are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 2-3 hours of private study or reading each week in addition to the assessment
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course.  See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"Really enjoyed this module, a good course."
"The level of feedback given on the coursework was fantastic. The module itself is such a great addition to the Horizons program."
"The course is very well organised and clearly delineated. The topics are all very interesting and discussed in considerable depth."
"Great module, a good dash of colour amidst all the engineering!"