This is a nine month full-time programme which equips its graduates with an advanced understanding of crime and criminal justice. The degree comprises core courses in criminological theory and the study of criminal justice, provides training in research design and methodology, and offers students the opportunity to take optional courses in a wide range of subject areas, including policing, sentencing, prisons, the sociology of punishment, restorative justice, crime and the family, human rights, victims, youth justice, risk and security, border criminology and the death penalty. Students also research and write a dissertation on a subject of their own choosing under the guidance of a supervisor. A stimulating and demanding programme, involving intensive learning in small groups, the MSc is suitable for those with an excellent first degree in sociology, law, politics, psychology, history or another subject relevant to criminology.

Course structure

An induction programme is run in the two weeks before the start of the first term. This introduces students to the modules on offer on the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice, along with introductions to the computing services and library facilities at Oxford. Students attend introductory lectures on criminological theory, an introduction to the ‘Structure of the English Criminal Justice System’ and an introduction to research methods session. A ‘What to expect’ session will be held by  former MSc students giving further insight into the MSc course and you will be invited to join the welcome drinks reception to meet your cohort along with the tutors and other members of the Centre for Criminology. 

The MSc is comprised of three components:

1. The two Compulsory Courses; Criminology Theories and Criminal Justice, and Research Design and Data Collection.

2. Five optional modules selected from a list of 15 or so

3. A dissertation of 12,000 to 15,000 words researched and written independently under the supervision of a member of academic staff

Students are expected to spend at least 40 hours studying each week during term (and they will also need to do some study during vacations). During Michaelmas and Hilary Term students are advised to divide their time between the core course and their other courses in the following way:

  • At least 10 hours preparation a week for the core course;
  • At least 8 hours preparation a week for each option/compulsory course;
  • 4.5 to 6 hours a week in seminars (ninety minutes for each course).

In Trinity term MSc students will work on their dissertation and attend the weekly Academic Communication Skills sessions. 

You will note that this leaves very little time during the week for any paid employment. Whilst we appreciate that some students will have to work a few hours a week in the evenings or at the weekends, perhaps in a shop or a bar, students on a taught course (such as the MSc) or on the MPhil are not allowed to teach (or provide research assistance) within the university and colleges.

Michaelmas TermHilary termTrinity term
1. Criminological Theories and Criminal Justice (compulsory)5. Criminological Theories and Criminal Justice (compulsory)9. Academic Communication Skills (compulsory)
2. Research Design and Data Collection (compulsory)6. Optional course 310. Dissertation
3. Optional course 17. Optional course 4 
4. Optional course 28. Optional course 5



Full-time students research and write up their dissertations in Trinity Term.

The Academic Communication Skills sessions are compulsory for all MSc students and they will also give a presentation based on their dissertation at the ‘MSc symposium’.


There is one examination of the core course modules. This is usually held in Week 0 of  Trinity Term,  date to be confirmed.

The research methods courses are examined by means of a 2,500-3,000 word assessment to be submitted in Week 10. These courses also have some term-time assignments which are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Each option is examined by means of an assessed essay of 3,500-4,500 words for which time is set aside during the last three weeks of each term.   Assessed essay titles are given out on Friday of Week 7 and must be completed by Thursday of Week 10 of Michaelmas and Hilary term.

The dissertation is between 12,000 and 15,000 words long on a topic of the student's choice, subject to the agreement of the Board of Studies.  Students are expected to carry out the research independently, with only minimum guidance from their dissertation supervisor.

The degree of MSc shall be awarded to any candidate who achieves a mark of at least 50 per cent for (a) the five options and the ‘Research Design and Data Collection’ course, (b) the core course papers, and (c) the dissertation, as well as satisfactorily completes the continuous assessment element of ‘Research Design and Data Collection’, and, where relevant, those of ‘Quantitative Methods for Social Scientists’ and/or ‘Qualitative Methods’

Scholarships & Bursaries

Needs-based MSc Bursaries in Criminology, 2022-23

The Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford is committed to increasing the portfolio of studentships available to all students to attract the best, irrespective of background or ability to pay. As part of this initiative, we are offering for the second year, a limited number of needs-based bursaries for applicants to the MSc program.

How to apply

Applicants must apply to the University of Oxford for admission to the MSc degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice by the 21st January 2022 deadline .

All candidates who are offered a place, will be asked to complete a form setting out their financial means. The bursaries will be offered after this process has been completed.


Queries relating to these studentships may be addressed to the Centre for Criminology’s Graduate Studies Administrator,

Kalisher Wadham Student Scholarship - MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, is offering a partial scholarship for UK residents applying for the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice degree commencing in October 2022. The scholarships are intended to encourage and assist those intending to practise at the Criminal Bar who demonstrate ‘exceptional promise but modest means’. Applications are invited from UK residents. The award will be to the value of £6,000 towards University fees The bursary has been generously supported by the Kalisher Trust.

How to apply

At the time of application to the University, applicants are required to submit to the Graduate Studies Administrator at the Centre for Criminology an additional statement asking to be considered for this scholarship and explaining why they believe they meet the selection criteria, in particularly to discuss their motivation to succeed at the Criminal Bar. This statement should be no more than 800 words. Those shortlisted for the scholarship will be invited for interview. Application statements should be sent to For more information and selection criteria please see here.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The ESRC is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on social and economic issues. The University, in collaboration with Brunel University and the Open University, hosts the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership - one of fourteen Doctoral Training Partnerships accredited by the ESRC as part of a Doctoral Training Network. 

In order to be considered for a Grand Union DTP ESRC studentship, you must select ‘ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences’ in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form.  You must also complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form and upload it, together with your graduate application form, by the funding deadline for your course. 

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford can be found on the Grand Union DTP website. Please ensure you have read all of the guidance available on the website before completing the Grand Union DTP Application Form. Questions can be directed to the Grand Union DTP Office.

Collegiate System

Oxford is a collegiate university, which means it is made up of self-governing, independent colleges. All Oxford students are a member of a college. Colleges provide students with an ideal opportunity for interaction with peers from different academic disciplines, countries and backgrounds, as well as a place to get involved in clubs, sports and cultural activities, socialise, eat and sometimes live.

Although colleges are very important in admissions and teaching provision for undergraduate students, it is the Faculty that manages the admissions process and provides the teaching for graduate students.

Admission to a college happens after a candidate receives an offer of a place on the MSc Criminology. Receiving an offer of a place on the MSc Criminology guarantees the candidate a place at a college, but not necessarily the college of their choice.