Exploring vulnerability through a criminological lense

This is a Criminology Subject Spotlight with Sarah Connelly from the University of Sunderland. An interactive, cinematic course taster experience to allow students to gain insights into what it's like to study Criminology.

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Join Sarah Connelly from the University of Sunderland as she takes a deep dive into the subject of vulnerability in the criminal justice system. In episode 1, Sarah unpacks the criminal justice system, asking questions such as: What is the criminal justice system and what do we mean by criminal justice? Sarah then explores the three theories that underpin the UK criminal justice system and begins to explore some of the shifting procedures that have impacted the system that we live in now. In episode 2, Sarah introduces vulnerability as a concept in today’s society. Sarah also introduces a criminological lens to this conversation to answer questions as: how can vulnerability impact a person’s experience in criminal justice? In episode 3, Sarah applies vulnerability to a particular setting: police custody in the UK. Sarah will look at how this works and then begins to explain some of the existing procedures and understandings of vulnerability in police custody. Sarah also introduces the role of the appropriate adult, and some guidance surrounding how that role works. Finally, in episode 4, Sarah outlines why undertaking activities as a criminologist is important, before setting you an activity to have a go at. This particular activity has you applying the knowledge you have gained throughout this Subject Spotlight and identify vulnerability in a scenario.

About University of Sunderland

The University of Sunderland is a top 50 UK university (Guardian University Guide 2024) and a global institution which offers life-changing opportunities for over 20,000 students across its four campuses in Sunderland, London and Hong Kong. With over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, placement opportunities and the option to study full or part-time, there’s something for everyone at Sunderland. The University of Sunderland has also received five stars for teaching, inclusiveness, employability and facilities in the QS World University Rankings 2023 and is in the top 10 UK universities for social inclusion (The Times Good University Guide 2024).

Meet the academics

Sarah Connelly

Sarah Connelly a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sunderland. Sarah is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Sarah’s expertise and research areas are around vulnerability, gender-diverse groups in the Criminal Justice system, the Appropriate Adult scheme and her teaching focuses on these topics. Sarah is currently undertaking a PhD, exploring how vulnerability is navigated in police custody processes within the UK. Sarah is also the Scheme Manager for the Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme which works to support vulnerable offenders in police custody and is a trustee of the National Appropriate Adult network.

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Remarkable & relatable academics

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Interactive quizzes and activities

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Content to enhance students university applications

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Certificate of completion

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Subject Spotlight?

Subject Spotlights fuse education and entertainment to bring you the new way of researching your university options.

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Who is this Spotlight for?

This subject spotlight is made for students aged 16 and above, that are considering applying to University, particularly to study the subject in the title, or similar areas.

How should I talk about completing a Subject Spotlight on my UCAS application?

Completing a Subject Spotlight shows the university you're applying to that you've taken time outside of school to engage with relevant content.

The easiest way to include it would be to briefly mention one or two things you learned from it and how/why those learnings have furthered your desire to study the subject. We don't want to prescribe an answer because it's your personal statement but this is a good starting point!