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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

Criminology and criminal justice engages with a vast range of historical and contemporary issues. In a field that is constantly evolving, experts have become adept at changing their approach to keep pace with new and emerging forms of crime.

The MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice critically addresses key issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system. Exploring issues such as terrorism, sex work, legal and illegal drugs, forced migration, law enforcement, cybercrime and the use of new technologies you will develop an in-depth understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice from critical, theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives.

You will study issues of theoretical and social importance, learning from practitioners, lecturers and researchers who are international experts in their fields. The module ’Criminology: Theory and Critical Issues' links directly with the research activities of the criminology staff while ‘Gender Violence and Abuse’ links with the current activities of the Department’s research group of the same name.

The course will suit those from a wide range of disciplines, who are interested in pursuing a career in the field and those with a professional background in criminal justice who are keen to take their skills to the next level.

Course structure

Core modules:

Criminology, Theory and Critical Issues provides an advanced education in the application of a range of theoretical approaches to the study of crime and criminal justice. These theories of crime and justice are then applied to a range of topical issues including: gender, crime and justice; policing, prisons and punishment; sexual violence and abuse; youth justice; human rights; border crime and transnational justice; cyber-crime, nightlife and alcohol-related violence, and forensics.

Researching Society, Policy and Practice develops your critical understanding of main approaches and methods of social research, and the skills used in this area. The module makes  particular reference to the use of research in social welfare practice settings within an ethical framework, exploring areas such as research questions, sampling, methods of data collection and analysis, and interpretation. 

The 15,000-word Dissertation gives you the opportunity to explore and write about a suitable subject of your choice under the guidance of a supervisor, and to use the techniques developed in the research modules. It enables you  to demonstrate your capacity for independent thought, critical thinking and analysis.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Gender, Violence and Abuse
  • Prisons, Crime and Justice
  • Social Policy and Society
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Public Sociology: Theory and Practice
  • Policy Related and Evaluation Research
  • Quantitative Methods and Analysis
  • Qualitative Methods and Analysis
  • Computational Social Science
  • Analysing Causal Relations in Social Science Research
  • Placement
  • Communities, Civil Society and Social Justice
  • Education and Social Inequality
  • Sociology of Health and Illness
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices Across Social Research
  • Global Environmental Law
  • International Protection of Human Rights
  • A relevant module from Durham Law School
  • A language module


The MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice involves a combination of lectures, seminar discussion, workshops and presentations, and some optional research methods modules involve computer-based practicals. To gain the most from your study, significant time is needed for reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work.

The MSc culminates in independent research for the dissertation on a topic of your choice, with supervision by staff actively engaged in relevant research. You will also participate in two workshops, usually alongside others researching in similar areas.


The majority of the MSc is assessed through coursework, and this takes a variety of forms depending on the modules studied. Assessment methods include written assignments, reports, group and individual presentations, reflective journals, research proposals and in some optional research methods modules there are computer-based practicals. If you complete the optional placement module, you will be assessed through a placement portfolio.

The MSc dissertation, carried out under the guidance of a supervisor, makes up one-third of your credits.

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) 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,100 per year
EU students £26,750 per year
Island students £11,100 per year
International students £26,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,200 per year
EU students £14,800 per year
Island students £6,200 per year
International students £14,800 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


Teaching and research in sociology develops the skills and knowledge required to carry out further research at a high level.

It also provides an excellent foundation for careers in a wide range of sectors by enhancing skills that are appropriate for the workplace and are highly sought after by employers. These range from interpreting and evaluating information to analysing situations and constructing a persuasive argument.

Previous postgraduates have progressed to stimulating and rewarding roles in health and welfare, local and central government, the Civil Service, the police, the voluntary sector, banking and the media as well as business, with high-profile employers such as M&S, Mencap, Accenture and Unilever.

Department information


The Department of Sociology carries out significant research and teaching that considers the world from a social perspective. We use the knowledge gained from our research into human behaviour to contribute to vital policy and practice that addresses contemporary social challenges.

These ever-present challenges range from social inequality and its implications for social mobility, education and health as well as violence, abuse, and the role of responses from bodies such as governments and agencies.

We offer postgraduate taught masters courses in Sociology, Social Work and Social Research Methods. We also offer masters by research and doctorates by research in the areas of Communities and Social Justice, Higher Education and Inequality, Violence and Abuse, and Health.

Our academic staff have a vast pool of expertise in innovative and socially conscious research in areas ranging from Criminology and Sociology through Social Policy to Social Work and Community and Youth Work.

We are also home to prestigious research centres that are respected for the contribution they make to the field of sociology including the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action and the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 15 in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Sociology 2023
  • 1st for Criminology in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024
  • 3rd for Sociology in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024 
  • 8th for Sociology in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 3rd for Criminology in The Guardian University Guide 2024


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)


The Department is located in the centre of Durham. Our main building is 32 Old Elvet and is within walking distance of the Students’ Union, University Colleges and the city’s castle and cathedral.

The buildings include 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 offers a wide range of books, ebooks and journals that support all of our areas of study. We also make extensive use of Learn Ultra, the University’s virtual learning environment.


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
Find out more

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