TMA 04

TMA 04 is designed to help prepare you for the end-of-module exam. It invites you first to reflect on the characteristics of good exam essays by evaluating two mock exam answers, and then to use those insights to help you write your own practice exam essay under conditions reflecting those of the end-of-module examination. The TMA also gives you the chance to practise answering (and get feedback on) a short-format exam question. Although the requirements of the exam questions are a little different from a standard TMA, they call on exactly the same skills of structuring and writing analytical discussions and writing in your own words that you have been working on in your assignments so far.

This year’s exam will be completed remotely, with the exam paper released approximately six weeks before the final submission date. You should complete the practice questions (Parts 2 and 3 of the TMA) under conditions that replicate the conditions of the remote seen exam. You must:

Learning outcomes

In TMA 04, you are working towards the following module learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate current knowledge of the way institutions, policies and practices interact and influence understandings of ‘crime’ and ‘justice’
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how concepts and theories in criminology are used to explore social problems
  • Accurately communicate information on theories of crime and criminalisation to academic or professional audiences
  • Critique a range of criminological approaches, reflect on your own viewpoint and demonstrate awareness of ethical concerns
  • Reflect on your increasing development as an independent learner through continued critical self-assessment
  • Plan achievable goals to strengthen your personal and career development with a particular focus on academic skills.

Guidance notes

  • Refer to module materials and other sources as needed
  • Reference your work as you would in other TMAs
  • Adhere to the specified word limits, with 10% leeway
  • Word-process your answer.

You should include a word count for each part of the assignment, and reference lists for the practice exam questions. Neither these nor your headings should be included in the word count.

Understanding how your work will be assessed can be helpful to developing your TMAs. You can access the generic DD212 Marking grid, which contains the criteria that will be used to mark your reflection, here or on the next tab.

Part 1 Evaluation of sample exam essay answers

Approaching the task

To complete this part of the TMA, you need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the two answers to the sample exam question ‘What is crime?’. This question is not one that will appear on your end-of-module examination. For guidance on the kind of questions that you might be asked in the end-of-module exam, please see the DD212 Specimen Exam Paper.

First, you need to download the two exam answers:

A key part of this task is taking the time to read the answers and think about what constitutes a strong answer. The following questions might be helpful:

  • Content and analysis
    • How relevant is the material to the question set?
    • Does the writer demonstrate a good understanding of the module materials?
    • Is the answer largely descriptive, or analytical?
    • Is there material that the writer could have included to make their argument stronger, more direct, more in-depth?
  • Structure
    • Is there a clear and logical structure?
    • Is there a strong introduction and conclusion addressing the prompt question?
  • Style and academic conventions
    • Is it coherent and fluently written?
    • Is it appropriately referenced?

Writing a good evaluation

To be successful on this part of the TMA, you should:

  • Be systematic
  • Consider what you think examiners will want students to demonstrate in an end-of-module exam.

Part 2 Exam practice: short-answer question

Approaching the task

The short-answer question asks you to define Pyrrhic defeat theory and relate it to one of the two module themes.

The 150-word limit signals that the question is looking for a fuller explanation than the brief definition you would find in a general dictionary. Consider what another Level 2 criminology student would need to know in order to make sense of the theory and its significance for criminological thought. With which individuals and schools of thought is it most associated? What were its shaping influences, and what implications for policy and practice does it have? Does the theory contain any problems or contradictions that limit the insights it can provide, or the ways in which it could be applied? While there may not be a single ‘correct’ theme that you should connect to this concept, when choosing which one you will focus on you should consider its intrinsic relevance to the concept, and how well it helps you make the points you want to raise. Use the theme to support your explanation of the concept and help contextualise it. Illustrate your definition with brief examples from the module materials.

The purpose of the short-answer exam questions is to demonstrate your understanding of key concepts or theories. Connecting the concept to relevant module themes is one way of showing understanding. You will also demonstrate understanding by identifying key details to include in your definition, and by explaining the concept and theme using your own words. Writing in your own words is one of the key challenges of this question format. You can reduce the risk of inadvertent plagiarism by working from your own notes rather than module materials, and planning what you will include before you begin to write. Use the module glossary and the index to Book 2 to identify all the information that will be relevant to your answer.

Writing a good answer

To be successful on this part of the TMA you should:

  • Spend time before you begin to write making sure that you understand the theory you are being asked to explain, and the relevant module theme
  • Identify the most salient aspects of the theory to focus on
  • Discuss the theory in relation to one module theme only
  • Make the connection with the module theme explicit
  • Define the theory using your own words.

Key sources

Block 1

Block 3

Part 3 Exam practice: essay question

Approaching the task

The essay prompt for TMA 04 asks you to explore perspectives that argue that power and/or inequality are at the root of the social processes by which some acts and people come to be defined as ‘crimes’ and ‘criminals’. To do this, you need to understand the concept of ‘criminalisation’, which you have encountered in different forms at two separate points in Block 3. Mark Connor introduces the concept in his discussion of symbolic interactionism and labelling theory (Book 2, Chapter 7). Jo Phoenix then extends the module’s exploration of the concept in her discussion of the work of critical criminologists, and the concept of differential criminalisation in particular (Chapter 12/Week 18). In responding to the question, your core task is thus to consider how these different conceptions of criminalisation portray the role of the law, and its relationship with power and inequality.

However you approach your essay, try not to get bogged down in examples. Look for points of comparison between perspectives (where understandings of criminalisation, law and the nature and role of power/inequality are similar) and points of contrast (where they are different). To avoid descriptiveness and repetitiveness, you may find it helpful to ‘zigzag’ between perspectives to discuss similarities and differences together, rather than examining them sequentially or telling a chronological story about how the concept of criminalisation evolved. Plan the points you will make and select the evidence to support them carefully; the exam-question format requires you to be concise. To answer the question within the word count, you should aim to construct a simple argument comprising three-to-four main points, in addition to your introduction and conclusion.

Writing a good answer

To be successful in this part of the TMA you should:

  • Define the key concepts you discuss concisely
  • Use the concept of criminalisation to connect ‘crime’ and ‘criminality’ with power and inequality
  • Explore key connections and points of contrast between the ways in which the concept of criminalisation is used by symbolic interactionists and critical criminologists
  • Illustrate your answer with relevant examples, but avoid getting bogged down in description
  • Structure your essay around a simple argument (i.e. a sequence of logically connected statements) of three-to-four main points to help you select your source material and focus your discussion
  • Answer the question directly.

Key sources

Week 3

Week 11

Week 16

Week 17

Week 18

Part 4 Reflection

Approaching the task

As in TMA 03, this reflection is marked. Below are some prompts to help you reflect on the process of completing TMA 04:

  • How useful did you find evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the two sample exam answers in Part 1?
  • How did you find completing the practice exam questions?
  • What do you think are the main strengths and weaknesses of your own exam answers?
  • Is there any aspect of your work on which you would particularly like feedback?
  • What do you think you need to do to prepare for the final DD212 end-of-module exam?

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