The MSc consists of the following components

1. The Core Course and Compulsory Research Methods Course

The compulsory core course runs through the first two terms (Michaelmas and Hilary) for the first eight weeks of term. The first term of the course focuses on ‘Explanation and Understanding in Criminology’, while the second is concerned with ‘Understanding Criminal Justice’. The Research Methods Course runs in the first term (Michaelmas). The topics covered are as follows:

Explanation and Understanding in Criminology

This first half of the Core Course (taught in Michaelmas Term) seeks to develop understanding of the organizing categories and central claims of a range of modern criminological perspectives of crime and social control. It equips students to recognize the main problems, questions, dichotomies and ideas that have shaped modern criminological thought, and to understand the nature of ‘theory’ and ‘explanation’ within criminology. Attention is paid throughout to the contexts that shape the emergence and reception of modern criminological theory and to the modes of social intervention that different criminological perspectives expressly or implicitly propose. Topics covered vary from year to year but are likely to include: crime and the urban environment, developmental and control theories, routine activities and rational choice theories, crime, inequality and opportunity, crime and culture, and social reactions to crime.  Explanation and Understanding in Criminology reading list

Understanding Criminal Justice

The second half of the course offers students 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 students are introduced to contemporary issues and controversies in criminal justice and punishment. The course introduces students to competing theoretical perspectives on the criminal justice process and in so doing encourages them to think seriously 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.Topics covered might include:models of criminal justice, defining and responding to the problem of anti-social behaviour, youth justice, women and criminal justice, the lay magistracy, and parole.

Research Design and Data Collection

This course is compulsory except for students who already have a strong background in Research Methods who can request exemption from this course and instead take the Social Explanation and Data Collection course also offered in Michaelmas term.  This will need to be approved before the start of Michaelmas term.  Students must take one of these courses, and can take bothRDDC is focused on the challenges and the opportunities that different methods of data collection have for validity and reliability of data. Such 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. This option will provide students with a knowledge base from which to choose appropriate ways to collect valid and reliable data given a particular research question. It will also help students assess the weight that can be placed on the findings of published research in the field of criminology. Research Design and Data Collection reading list

2. Optional Subjects

Students will also take five optional modules – two in the first term and three in the second term.  These run for the first eight weeks of each term  The options running in 2016-17 are listed below.

Michaelmas term

Hilary term

In previous years the following options have run, and these may be on offer again in coming years:

  • Sociology of Punishment
  • Law, Crime and Economics
  • Transitional Justice
  • Desistance from Crime
  • Public Opinion, Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Crime and Media
  • Policing Global Insecurities
  • Youth Justice
  • Victims and Restorative Justice
  • Criminal Justice, Migration and Citizenship

See also Course descriptions on option pages

3. Dissertation 

In addition to the options students take,in Trinity term they will write a dissertation of between  12,000 and 15,000 words. This will be researched and written independently under the supervision of a member of academic staff.