Queen Mary Summer School

State Crime: Government Violence and Corruption


Academic Lead: Dr Thomas MacManus

When we turn on or read the news, we usually see stories of people around the world suffering at the hands of their own governments. Have you ever wondered what is really going on? How do these things happen? How can we stop it? This module is about crime committed by governments and it explores the definition and nature of state crime in criminological and political discourse. We look at examples of state crime and analyse them as a class. By the end of the course you will have a greater understanding of the worst types of crime. Arm yourself with academic theories and knowledge and never watch or read the news the same way again!

The module aims to develop a critical understanding of the nature of the state and the scale and type of crimes committed by governments and their agents. The definitional processes involved in labelling state’s acts as criminal are explored, as are the forces which explain why and how states enter into deviant or ‘criminal’ practices.

Teaching in lectures and seminars will be supplemented with a number of structured study sessions, such as a supervised library skills workshop, and assessment preparation for the coursework.

Download course syllabus: SUM503P State Crime_2020 [PDF 164KB]

Course aims

The course aims to develop a critical understanding of the nature of the state and the scale and type of crimes and human rights abuses committed by governments and their agents. The definitional processes involved in labelling states acts as criminal are explored, as are the forces which explain why and how states enter into deviant or criminal practices. The course is taught using lectures, seminars, film and off-campus tours/visits. The will be plenty of time for stimulating class discussions over the three weeks and the following subjects will be covered (amongst others): torture, state-corporate crime, anti-terrorism and human rights, natural disasters, asylum policy as state crime, war crimes, genocide, and resistance to state crime. The course is assessed by essay and a short presentation.

The aim of this course is to:

  • enable students to develop a critical understanding of the nature of the state, the scale and type of crimes committed by state agents and agencies; the definitional processes involved in states labelling acts as criminal and; the forces which explain why and how states enter into deviant or criminal practices and omissions.
  • enable participants to become effective users of research to enhance their understanding of criminological theory and practice.

The course is of interest to any student who wishes to know more about human rights and crimes of the state/government and to learn about a criminological analysis of crimes of the powerful.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, film and fieldtrips.

By the end of the course, students will also be able to demonstrate the following generic skills:

Cognitive/Intellectual skills;

  • Analysis: can analyse basic criminological texts, evidence, etc. with guidance using given approaches/techniques/principles.
  • Synthesis: students will be taught to collect, combine and categorise state crime and criminological theories, ideas and information in a predictable and standard format.
  • Evaluation: with guidance, students will be required to critically evaluate material and sources on the subject of state crime.
  • Application: students will be shown how to apply given theories and methods carefully to a well defined problem and will present a case study of state crime to the class.

Key transferable skills;

  • Group working: students will have to demonstrate that they can work effectively with others as a member of a group; to this end, the class will work in small groups throughout and will be required to present, in a small group, a case study on state crime at the end of the course.
    • Learning resources & Management of information: Students will be required to collect appropriate material from a range of relevant, accessible criminological and journalistic sources and undertake research tasks which will test and demonstrate their ability to manage information
  • Problem solving: The essay and case study presentation will require students to plan, differentiate and appraise conflicting academic and journalistic sources to construct a coherent criminological argument.
  • Autonomy: The essay title and presentation projects will be chosen by the students (with guidance where necessary) and students will have to demonstrate that they can take responsibility for own learning with appropriate support. Writing the essay will require a significant amount of independent research and will encourage the student to act with limited autonomy, under direction.


The Queen Mary Summer School costs: £1,700 per session, which includes tution and social programme. 

We offer a 10% discount to:

  • Students and staff from partner institutions
  • Alumni
  • Current Queen Mary students 


The cost of accommodation is £670 per session. For further information, please visit our  page.

Additional costs and course excursions

There may be additional costs for field trips, such as entry to exhibitions, which will be in the region of £10-20.
All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

Please note there is no deposit payment required for the Queen Mary Summer School.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

To join our Summer School, you should have completed a minimum of two semesters’ study at your home institution.

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications:

  • if your home institution uses the four-point Grade Point Average (GPA) scale, we usually require a 3.0 GPA
  • if your home institution uses the letter scale, you will need to have a B+

We welcome international qualifications and we consider every application individually on its academic merit.

English language requirements

All of our courses are taught and assessed in English. If English isn’t your first language, you must meet one of the following English Language requirements in order to join the Queen Mary Summer School:

  • If you hold a degree from a majority English speaking country plus Canada you may use this degree to satisfy the English language requirements for entry, provided the degree was completed no more than 5 years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.
  • IELTS, 7 overall or higher
  • TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 100 (L22; S25; R24; W27)
  • China UEE (University Entrance Exam) -  110
  • CET 4 – 550 or CET 6 – 490
  • PTE Academic 68
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 185 70- grade C (old marking system)
  • Applicants with an alternative qualification should check it is equivalent to the above or contact us at summerschool@qmul.ac.uk


How to apply

Applications will open on 2 December 2019.

Have a question? Get in touch, one of the team will be happy to help. 


What do I need to apply?

You’ll need to upload the following documents together with your online application:

  • your current academic transcript or your record of studies to date
  • evidence of your English Language proficiency, if your first language isn’t English
  • a written statement explaining why you'd like to attend the Summer School
  • a copy of your passport

What do I do next? 

  • work with your home university adviser to select the courses you want to study at Queen Mary and ensure they are approved/can transfer back to your own institution
  • gather your transcripts and your proof of language proficiency (if applicable)
  • check that you meet the eligibility criteria
  • Fill out our online application form

What happens then?

  • We make a decision on your application within 5 days of your application date and send you an offer letter
  • You accept our offer
  • Apply for a visa (if you need it)
  • Book your flights to London**
  • Read all of our pre-departure emails carefully before you arrive
  • Pack and get ready for your stay in London
  • Arrive in London and move into your new home with us on campus
  • Join the welcome programme and start your course
  • Complete all your welcome programme/orientation tasks
  • Enjoy your time at the Queen Mary Summer School!

** Please don’t connect or enter the UK via Ireland, as there are visa restrictions.

Teaching dates
Session 2: 20 July - 7 August 2020
Course hours
150 hours (of which 45 will be contact hours)
2,500-word essay (80%) In-class oral presentation (20%)

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