Socio-legal and Criminological Research MA


Fact file

MA Socio-legal and Criminological Research MA
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in law, humanities or social sciences
Other requirements
7.0 (with no less than 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading and 6.0 in speaking and listening)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course provides an introduction to the theoretical bases of research in both law and the social sciences more broadly.
Read full overview

The programme acts as an ideal foundation for future doctoral research, and many students will wish to move from this programme on to doctoral studies. This degree is also relevant to students wishing to have a more structured and systematic understanding of how research is conducted, and what research is reliable. As such, it will be relevant for those looking for a career in policy-making and similar social science disciplines.

The Socio-legal and Criminological Research MA satisfies the pre-requisite of research training to qualify for the ESRC '+3' Studentship scheme. It also meets the requirements to act as the first element of the '1+3' Studentship scheme.

Key facts

  • The school enjoys professional relationships with international institutions, leading UK law firms, private industry and consultancies, and non-governmental organisations
  • We have a dedicated Legal Skills Adviser who delivers workshops and one-to-one sessions on issues such as time management, how to answer a problem question, how to research and reference, and how to choose a dissertation topic

Course details

You must complete 120 credits to complete the taught element of the programme. Following this, you will progress to a 60-credit dissertation to be completed in the summer.

The dissertation is an extensive piece of independent research, intended to provide you with a project to try out the methods of interest to you, in your chosen legal subject. Students who intend to proceed to doctoral study after completing the MA will generally choose a topic that relates to their proposed PhD project, in that it will act as a foundation study for their thesis.


Modules from the School of Law will be assessed by either essay, examination, or, in the case of some full-year options, both. Our assessments all take place at the end of the spring semester.

Modules offered through the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre will have different assessment formats, for example, a poster or verbal presentation, and the timing of assessments will vary from module to module.

Modules are generally offered as full-year or half-year options; however some DTC modules are intensive, whereby the full content is covered in two consecutive full days of teaching.




Foundations in Qualitative Methods

This module provides a conceptual overview of the various approaches and debates associated with theory and practice of qualitative research. It examines a range of contrasting perspectives on the design of research including problem identification, selection and sampling, and analysis.

Research ethics, and the role of the researcher in generating qualitative data, are key themes which run through the module. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches may be seen as complementary, and the use of mixed methods.

The module will also cover the ways in which qualitative research can be evaluated. The module will also facilitate dialogue between members of different social science disciplines, to give an understanding of how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives.

Philosophy of Social Science

The course has three parts:

  1. Science and the philosophical critique of science
  2. Epistemological debates in the social sciences including, but not limited to, positivism and its critics, interpretative approaches including phenomenology, critical realism, social construction and the politics of knowledge and the sociology of science
  3. The funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda
Research Design, Practice and Ethics

This module focuses on the analytical, practical and ethical organisation of social science research. 

The analytical organisation is often referred to as 'research design' and will constitute the bulk of the content of this module. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices pertain to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis. 

Every research question can be elaborated in different ways (ie with different designs), none of which will be ideal in all respects as the various choices pertain to trade-offs. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and in terms of potential threats to the validity of its eventual results. These implications will be elaborated in the module, as well as ways how to handle the resulting choice problems in actual practice.

The practical organisation of research is closely related to design choices, but focuses particularly on logistical and timing issues. Ethical organisation of the research involves awareness of ethical issues, of ethical consent procedures and of their implications for research design and practical organisation.

Research Management and Personal Development Skills

This module covers general research, communication and personal development skills.

You are required to take the following courses from the Graduate School Research Training Programme and additional courses to a maximum of 15 training credits: 

  • Building a Bibliography (1 training credit) 
  • Presentation Skills for Postgraduates in Humanities (3 training credits)
  • Planning Research and Time Management (1 training credit) 
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright and Working with External Organisations (1 training credit)
  • Getting more from Microsoft Office Applications (2 training credits) 
  • Using Word for Long Documents (2 training credits) 

In addition, you are required to complete a Research Training Portfolio which includes: 

  • appraisal of your current skills and planning for your development
  • evidence of your activities undertaken during the year that develop your skills
  • reflection on how your knowledge and skills might be used in different contexts 

Portfolio workshops are offered to support your work on completing the portfolio.

Research Methods in Law

This course is an introduction to diverse research methods in law. It will include sessions on computer-assisted legal research, cross-disciplinary research and empirical research.



  • Any of the LLM modules
  • Any Doctoral Training Centre modules

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The MA Socio-Legal and Criminological Research qualifies as an appropriate +1 element of the ESRC '1+3' Studentship Scheme. Full details about this RCUK funding opportunity can be found on the Graduate School's ESRC Doctoral Training Centre webpage.

The School of Law advertises a variety of funding opportunities each year, please see the funding opportunities webpage for further information.

There is also funding information on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers. Many graduates either go into the legal profession or return to their previous legal careers with their experience and prospects enhanced by their experiences on the course. A large number also work with NGOs, or return to their countries with the relevant skills to help add to the future development of that country.

A selection of graduates progress onto our PhD programme each year, in order to progress their academic career. These students often choose to stay at The University of Nottingham beyond their doctorate, with a number of our current academics having completed both the LLM or Masters and PhD programmes with us before becoming members of staff.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 93% of postgraduates in the School of Law who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £27,031 with the highest being £40,800.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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