Compulsory courses

Three compulsory courses run weekly during the first two terms. A fourth compulsory (but non-examined) course is run weekly in the third term.

Criminological Theories

In the first term, this course develops understanding of the organising categories and central claims of a range of modern criminological perspectives of crime and social control. It will equip you to recognise the main problems, questions, dichotomies and ideas that have shaped modern criminological thought, and to understand the nature of ‘theory’ and ‘explanation’ within criminology. Part-time students take this course in the first term of their first year of study.

Criminal Justice

The second compulsory course offers you a thorough grounding in the criminological understanding of criminal justice/penal institutions and processes. The core themes of classic research on these processes are introduced, before you are introduced to contemporary issues and controversies in criminal justice and punishment. The course introduces you to competing theoretical perspectives on the criminal justice process and encourages you to think about the role of the state/criminal law in the regulation of human behaviour and the place and limitations of criminal justice interventions in producing safe societies. This course runs in the second term; part-time students can choose to take this compulsory course in the second term of either their first or second year of study.

Research Design and Data Collection

This compulsory course, which runs in the first term, is focused on the challenges and the opportunities that different methods of data collection have for validity and reliability of data. Methods include experiments and quasi-experiments; questionnaires and survey research; field research, and the collection of written documents. The scientific method, theory testing and research design will also be discussed. Ethical concerns are given special emphasis. Part-time students take this course in the first term of their first year of study.

Communication Skills for Criminologists

This final compulsory course runs in the third term. Once a week, for the first 6 weeks, academics, practitioners and researchers from the University and beyond will present to the class. Each week, a different small group of the MSc cohort will take responsibility for hosting the seminar (under the guidance of the tutors). By the end of the 6 weeks all of the MSc cohort should have had the chance to take on one of these ‘communication’ roles.

During the final two weeks the cohort will work together to organise a two-day conference at which each MSc student will make a short presentation on their dissertation topic (work in progress), and other students will be expected to ask questions and make helpful comments. The presenters will also receive feedback on their communication and presentation skills from the tutors.

Optional subjects

Full-time students will take five optional modules over the first and second terms of the year. Part-time students take a total of five options across the two years of study. Option courses run for eight weeks in each term. Recent option modules have included:

  • Race and Gender
  • Sentencing
  • Public and Private Policing 
  • Research Methods
  • Prisons
  • Comparative, Criminal Justice, Security and Human Rights
  • Politics of Crime Control
  • Transitional Justice
  • Criminal Justice, Migration and Citizenship
  • Crime and the Family
  • Risk, Security and Criminal Justice
  • The Death Penalty
  • Youth Justice

Please note that not all options run every year.

As a full-time student, you will be expected to spend at least 50 hours studying each week during term, and to undertake some further study during vacations. During the first two terms you will be advised to divide your time between the core course and your other courses as follows:

  • At least 18 hours per week preparation for the core course
  • At least 10 hours per week preparation for each option/compulsory course
  • 4.5 to 6 hours per week in seminars (90 minutes for each course)

Part-time students will be expected to commit to a proportional workload.  

Dissertation

In addition to the options you take, you will write a dissertation during the third term. Part-time students will write their dissertations in the third term of their second year, but will be encouraged to start planning their dissertation from their first year. The dissertation will be researched and written independently, with only minimum guidance from your dissertation supervisor. This is also supported by a compulsory but non-assessed Academic Skills Workshop for Criminologists, attended by both full-time and part-time students.

Assessment

In addition to the dissertation submitted at the end of Trinity Term there are two unseen examinations of the core course. 

Research methods courses are examined by means of an assessment to be submitted at the end of the relevant term. These courses also have some term-time assignments which are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

All other options are examined by means of an assessed essay, also to be submitted at the end of the term in which the option runs.