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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

This course critically addresses a range of key issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system. You will have the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice from critical, theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives and will address issues of historical and contemporary concern such as terrorism, sex work, legal and illegal drugs, crime in the night-time economy, forced migration, gender and crime, domestic violence, crime prevention, prison and punishment, policing, youth crime and justice, law enforcement and the use of new technologies. You will also study issues of theoretical and social importance with lecturers who are international experts in their fields.

Course Structure

You will take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. These will include a core ‘Researching Society, Policy and Practice’ module which will enable you to develop research skills and your own research proposal, in preparation for completing your dissertation.

Core modules:

Criminology: Theory and Critical Issues (30 credits)

  • Apply theories of crime and justice to topical issues
  • Theory and practice of criminal justice
  • Analysis of contemporary politics
  • Governance of criminal justice.

Researching Society, Policy and Practice (15 credits)

  • Overview of approaches to applied research in social sciences, including different methodological approaches, methods and designs that can be used.

Dissertation (60 credits)

  • A dissertation of up to 15,000 words on a topic of your choice.

All students also take at least one of the following two modules:

  • Gender, Violence and Abuse (30 credits)
  • Prisons, Crime and Justice (30 credits)

Examples of optional modules:

In addition, students choose modules to make their total credits up to 180 from either the other optional module listed above and/or other optional modules listed below (depending on module availability in each year), from modules such as:

  • Social Policy and Society (30 credits)
  • Participatory Action Research (15 credits)
  • Placement (15 credits)
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
  • Quantitative Methods and Analysis (15 credits)
  • Computational Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
  • Communities, Civil Society and Social Justice (15 credits)
  • Education and Social Inequality (15 credits)
  • Public Sociology: Theory and Practice (30 credits)
  • Global Environmental Law (15 credits)
  • International Protection of Human Rights (30 credits).


The MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 1 year full-time course which may also be taken part-time over 2 years.

The course is taught by lectures, seminar discussion, workshops and presentations, and in some optional research methods modules there are computer-based practicals. ‘Prisons, Crime and Criminal Justice’ is an innovative module taught within a prison using the Inside-Out dialogical pedagogy that emphasises transformative education. It involves University students learning together with prisoners, completing the same readings and assessments, as well as group work and group projects.

For this module you will need to undertake security clearance and mandatory prison training before being allowed to enter the prison and eligibility to register on this module is dependent on these being successfully undertaken.

The MSc course is research-led at its core. For example, the compulsory module ’Criminology: Theory and Critical Issues' links explicitly with the research activities of the criminology staff. The module ‘Gender Violence and Abuse’ also links with the current research activities of the Department’s research group of the same name. You will subsequently undertake a 60 credit dissertation on a topic of your choice, supervised by staff who are actively researching in a relevant area. While this module is intended to afford an opportunity for a significant piece of independent and original research, it includes up to six hours of regular supervision which takes place typically from the end of term 2. You will also participate in two workshops usually alongside others researching in similar areas.

Entry requirements

Normally an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

An undergraduate degree in social sciences is desirable but not compulsory and we welcome students with degrees in arts, humanities and science subjects. You should demonstrate clearly why you are interested in the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice degree in your personal statement. We are ALSO keen to consider applications with a professional background in criminal justice.

Additional requirements

When submitting your online application, you will also need to provide:

  1. Academic Transcript and Certificate (if possible)
  2. Two academic references (it is the applicant's responsibility to obtain their references from their referees).

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,900 per year
EU students £25,000 per year
Island students £10,900 per year
International students £25,000 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,000 per year
EU students £13,800 per year
Island students £6,000 per year
International students £13,800 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our degrees are an excellent foundation for careers in a wide range of sectors, including health and welfare, the Civil Service, local government, the voluntary sector, banking and academia.

We support students in gaining excellent employability skills. As well as pursuing further study, recent graduates have proceeded to careers with a range of high-profile employers.

Department information


We are a leading international centre of excellence in applied social research that shapes and informs social policy and practice. We enhance individual, community and social wellbeing, promote social inclusion, and form the foundations of research-led education. We have expanded over time to provide a focus for collaboration across the related academic disciplines of applied sociology, criminology and social work.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 150 in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Sociology 2022
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Department of Sociology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • We are 4th in the UK for research impact (REF 2021)


Our Departmental buildings are located in the centre of Durham City and we teach, supervise and meet students in these. Our main office building is in 32 Old Elvet and includes a student common space, networked computer access and our main teaching and learning offices.

Our University library is one of the best in northern Britain and is well resourced with books, ebooks and journals supporting all of our areas of study. College libraries also hold copies of some of the main textbooks.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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