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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Criminology aims to understand crime and deviance from a social perspective, exploring how crime and society are connected. We seek to answer questions like: why are some people more likely to commit crimes than others; why are some people more likely to be victimised; how can crime be effectively prevented or controlled; and so on.

From a more critical perspective we also consider why some activities are defined as ‘criminal’ in the first place and what this tells us about the workings of power and authority in society.

As a Criminology student, you will join a dynamic learning and research community, which includes internationally recognised experts actively engaged in shaping criminal justice policy. Our degree will challenge your opinions and develop your critical understanding, both about crime as well as the social and politics contexts within which it occurs. You will study theories of criminality and criminal justice, the roles and operation of criminal justice institutions, and explore specific topics such as gender-based violence, cybercrime and sex work.

You will also learn how to design and carry out criminological research through research projects carried out in the second and final year of study. We offer the option to undertake a placement with a local community organisation to deploy your knowledge in an applied setting. 

Course Structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Introduction to Criminological Theory will help you develop a sociological perspective on issues of crime, criminality and deviance. It introduces a range of key criminological theories and concepts through examination of four classic criminological studies, followed by an overview of theoretical development in Criminology over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Social Research Methods will introduce you to the concept of social research and practice-based inquiry. You will learn how to produce and analyse different kinds of data and develop some basic practical skills in designing and carrying out social research yourself.

The Criminal Justice Landscape outlines current debates within the field of criminal justice studies. You will learn about the key agencies of criminal justice including the Crown Prosecution Service, courts, prisons and the police. This module also introduces you to volunteering opportunities within the criminal justice system and actively encourages you to get involved in your local community.

Critical Scholarship in the Social Sciences aims to support the transition to university-level study by helping you develop the foundational academic skills that are needed throughout the rest of your degree. Through it you will learn key academic conventions and skills, for example: reading and evaluation; writing and argument; presentation and discussion; and so on.

Year 2

Core modules:

Contemporary Criminological Theory demonstrates how traditional theoretical models and concepts in Criminology have informed contemporary criminological thought. You will also learn how these recent developments are situated within recent social and political contexts, covering for example radical, realist, gender, control, cultural and postmodernist perspectives.

Research Methods in Action supports your development of applied research skills. At the core of the module is a group-based research project you design and carry out on a topic of your choosing. In addition, you will learn a range of methods and techniques for analysing both quantitative (statistics) and qualitative (textual / verbal / visual) data.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Communities and Social Justice
  • Crime, Power and Social Inequalities
  • Modern and Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Policing and Police
  • Self, Identity and Society
  • Sociology of Education
  • Sociology of Health and Medicine
  • Violence and Abuse in Society.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement or year abroad)

In your final year, you will design and carry out an Dissertation project on a topic of your choosing, in the area of Criminology, Sociology or Social Policy. This may take the form of an empirical research study or, alternatively, a critical discussion of scholarly work on the topic. Your final 10,000-word dissertation thesis comprises one third of your final-year mark and is an excellent opportunity to develop expertise in a topic of personal interest or relevance to a future career area.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Community Placement
  • Crime, Justice and the Sex Industry
  • Cyberculture and Cybercrime
  • Drugs and Society
  • Feminist Anti-Violence Activism: Theory in Action
  • Globalisation and the Sex Industry
  • Justice, Violence and Abuse
  • Race, Racism and Social Justice in Britain
  • Social Theory and the Politics of Knowledge
  • Sociology of Reproduction and Parenthood
  • The Body as Data: Technology, Power and Human Rights
  • Youth in Crisis: Young People, Crime and Justice.

Additional pathways

Students on the BA Criminology can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year.  Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Our BA (Hons) Criminology is taught through a mix of lectures, small-group seminars, research-based workshops, individual supervision and guided independent work. We also run a regular programme of research-focused lectures and seminars that are additional opportunities to learn about Criminology beyond your taught modules.

You will have typically have 8-10 contact hours a week, with the remainder of your study time focused on reading, preparing for classes, writing assessments and so on. As your studies progress, you will be afforded greater responsibility and discretion over your work, for example, developing projects or essays on topics of your choosing related to the themes of the modules you study. As such, over the course of the degree, you will develop skills in independent learning, organisation and motivation, preparing you for graduate employment at the end of your degree.


Assessment is largely coursework-based, with work such as essays, reports, portfolios, reflections and presentations accounting for approximately 80% of your final grade.

Assessments aim to assess your knowledge and understanding in an authentic manner, as well as helping you develop your skills in critical thinking, analysis and communication.

There are also regular opportunities for practice and feedback, for example: practice essays; essay plans; one-to-one and group tutorials; and so on.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAB.

Contextual offer – BBC.

We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • While not essential, applicants who have studied at least one strongly essay-based subject prior to entry will be better prepared for this course and preference may be given to such applicants over those who have not. A non-exhaustive list of example essay-based subjects includes: Business Studies, Criminology, English, Geography, History, Politics, Psychology, Religion/Philosophy and Sociology.
  • We also welcome applications from those holding or studying for qualifications equivalent to those standard requirements, such as an Access to HE Diploma, Cambridge Pre-U Diplomas, etc. Common alternatives are outlined here but contact University Admissions for advice if you cannot find your qualifications listed.
  • We do not include General Studies, Critical Thinking or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as part of an offer, although any of these (especially the EPQ) may strengthen the overall quality of an application.
  • Offers one grade down from the standard A level offer may be made to applicants who show special merit and potential in their applications, while offers up to two grades down from the standard offer will be made in line with the University’s Guaranteed Contextual Offer policy.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry. 

We endeavour to make offers as quickly as possible, however, we are committed to the principle of equal consideration, which means that any application made to us through UCAS by the deadline of the 29th January has a chance of being considered for an offer. Because of this, we cannot make all our decisions straight away when they reach us, so we may not inform some applicants who applied as early as September of our decision until March. However, we do this because each application really matters to us and we want to make offers to those applicants who show the strongest merit and potential in their application.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time 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



As well as building detailed subject-specific knowledge of criminological issues, our courses are designed to develop transferable skills that are valuable for both personal and professional development including, how to assemble and evaluate evidence, how to turn evidence into an effective argument, how to design a research project and analyse data.

Our graduates work in a wide range of employment settings worldwide, including the criminal justice system, the Civil Service, local and national government, banking, academic research and law (through graduate conversion programmes).


The combination of sociological knowledge and transferable skills gained during your studies will prepare you for a career in many different sectors. From interpreting and evaluating information to analysing situations and constructing a persuasive argument, these skills are highly valued by employers and will give you a competitive edge.

Sociology graduates work in a wide range of settings all over the world, including health and welfare, local and central government and the Civil Service, education, the police, social research, the media and non-profit organisations. Many recent graduates from the Department have progressed to careers with high-profile employers including M&S, Mencap, Accenture and Unilever. Others have moved on to postgraduate study and academic research.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 90% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 80% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £29,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information



Examine crime and deviance through a social lens studying this thought-provoking subject which challenges you to think deeply about the society in which we live. As a Criminology student at Durham you will learn to accept nothing at face value. Our courses are designed to shape students into critical, curious social scientists who seek out evidence as they get to grips with the complex causes of crime and the impact of crime on society.

Undergraduate study is shaped by real-world engagement and up-to-date research. You will learn from internationally recognised experts who are engaged in innovative, socially conscious research into some of the most challenging issues in modern society, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and abuse, and youth crime. Our academics also have close links with voluntary and community sector organisations national and globally, with many actively engaged in shaping criminal justice policy. 


The field of Sociology helps us to understand the ways in which human behaviour is shaped by the way we think, feel and respond to different social settings. Our courses apply sociological theory to the issues that affect our daily lives from education, work and families to crime, physical and mental health, and culture. Sociology at Durham will help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself, others and the world around you.

Learning takes place in the Department of Sociology, a dynamic learning and research community of students and staff. We take a research-led approach to learning which means that courses are informed by subject specialists who contribute to shaping society through their innovative, socially conscious research.


  • 3rd for Criminology in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 1st for Criminology and 3rd for Sociology in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 for Sociology in The Complete University Guide 2024

For more information see our department pages.


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

Research Excellence Framework

4th in the UK for research impact (REF 2021).


The Department of Sociology is located at Old Elvet, near the medieval Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, University Colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its Castle and Cathedral. Our buildings includes a student common space and networked computer access for our students to use.

Criminology at Durham is located at Old Elvet, within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, the colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its imposing Castle and Cathedral. We also use the local area as a learning environment, examining the connection between power and justice and exploring the locations of ancient and modern prisons around the city.

Durham 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. We make extensive use of Learn Ultra, the University’s virtual learning environment, and teach in facilities across the whole Durham campus.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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