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Guide to studying Criminology

Studying Criminology will allow you to focus primarily on factors that contribute to criminal behaviour and how to manage them.

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  1. What's Criminology?

  2. Why study Criminology?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Criminology graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Criminology?

Criminology is the scientific study of criminal behaviour, on an individual, social or natural level, and how it can be managed, controlled and prevented.

Criminology falls under a range of disciplines, drawing on sociology, psychology, psychiatry and social anthropology, as well as under the remit of criminal law. 

Why study Criminology?

Criminology offers an in-depth look at modern crime and punishment, and why certain groups may be societally victimised.

Most courses have total freedom of module selection within a range of criminology interests.

As it's a niche subject area, there's often a high student to staff ratio, so many departments specialise in small group teaching, meaning greater access to knowledge and expertise than on many other degree courses.

There are opportunities to study abroad, either as a dual degree with a foreign language or by travelling abroad to study how crime is analysed in other countries.

Prisoner showing handcuffed hands

What jobs can you get as a Criminology graduate?

Criminology degrees teach valuable transferable skills such as presentation, research and communication. Particular job areas include in the police, prison and probation systems, community and charity organisations, government agencies and further academic research.

Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Criminology graduates, such as the British Society of Criminology.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Criminology have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Criminology students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

Entry requirements depend on the institution and course in question. Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Criminology
  • BSc Sociology with Criminology
  • BSc Applied Social Science
  • BSc Criminology with a modern foreign language (e.g. French, German or Spanish)

How will you be assessed?

Assessment is via a range of summative (work which counts toward a final degree classification) and formative (work designed to enhance intended learning outcomes) techniques. Most are essay-based with some written exams. A dissertation is either optional or compulsory in the third year of most courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include MSc Forensic Psychology, PgDip Law (Criminal), MA Criminal Justice, MA Criminological Psychology, as well as a straight MA in Criminology.

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