Socio-legal and Criminological Research MA


Fact file

MA Socio-legal and Criminological Research MA
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree 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

This course introduces a variety of research methodologies and provides an introduction to the theoretical bases of research in both law and the social sciences more broadly.

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 people looking for a career in policy-making and similar social science disciplines.

The MA Socio-Legal and Criminological Research 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 of Law was ranked 41st best law school in the world by the QS World Rankings 2016
  • 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 Advisor 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

This course is offered on a full-time basis, to be completed in one academic year; and a part-time basis, to be completed within a maximum of four years. Part-time students ordinarily complete the programme within two years.

Students must complete 120 credits to complete the taught element of the programme. Following this, the student 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 students with a project to try out the methods of interest to them, in their 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 DTC will have different assessment formats, for example, a poster or oral 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.



Core modules

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. 

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. 

Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis

The objective of this module is to further students' familiarity with the practice of quantitative data analysis in the social sciences at an intermediate level.

The lecture component of the module will explore a variety of the most commonly used statistical methods; in the laboratory component, students will learn to apply these techniques to the analysis of social science data. 

Through assignments, students will have the opportunity to develop and test their own hypotheses and explanations on major research data sets. The module should provide a sound grasp of the possibilities, methods, and dangers inherent in quantitative social science research. 

Philosophy of Social Science

This module will introduce students to the philosophy of social science, and the ways in which this is interconnected with the politics and practice of social research.

Along the way we will be asking questions such as 'What standards must explanations in social science meet?' and 'What is the relationship between the values of a social scientist and the research they conduct?' 

Different research methods entail particular ideas of social reality and how we should conduct our studies. This has important implications both for how we approach our own research and how we evaluate the work of others. 

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 constitutes the bulk of the content of this module. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices relate to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis, and these choices pertain equally to so-called 'qualitative', 'quantitative' and 'mixed methods' studies. 

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 involve trade-offs. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and benefits, and in terms of potential threats to the validity of eventual conclusions. The module discusses these implications and 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.

Students 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, students are required to complete a 'Research Training Portfolio' which includes: 

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

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

This module aims to:

  • enable students to develop a range of generic and transferable skills
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.

This module aims to:

  • give students the skills to consider the diverse range of legal scholarships and research methods and techniques that can be employed to investigate legal questions
  • enhance students' legal research skills 

Optional modules

  • 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.



Up-to-date fees information can be found on our student fees and finance website.

All students

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

UK/EU students

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.

Please also visit the Graduate School's online funding database for information about additional masters scholarships.

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. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. 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 large proportion of our MA graduates progress onto our PhD programme each year, in order to progress their academic career, and these students are particularly successful with securing Research Council Funding. These students often choose to stay at The University of Nottingham beyond their doctorate, with a number of our current lecturers having completed both their Masters and PhD programmes with us before becoming members of staff; such as Dr Candida Saunders, who is now Director of the MA Socio-Legal and Criminological Research Programme.

Average starting salary and career progression

Over 94% of our postgraduates who were available for work entered employment or further study within the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for a Nottingham taught masters student is £23,082 with the highest salary being £48,000.*

* Known destinations of the 2013/14 leaving cohort of Nottingham home/EU postgraduates who studied full-time.

Career prospects and employability

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service will help you to plan your career throughout your time at the University and beyond. 

Services available include:

  • Presentations and drop-in sessions with employers
  • One-to-one careers guidance and CV sessions with our advisers
  • Over 250 careers events
  • A specialist careers adviser for research postgraduates

All postgraduate students also become members of the Graduate School, which provides dedicated facilities and resources to enhance your postgraduate experience.



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