Criminology MA/PGDip


Fact file

MA Criminology
MA: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time; PGDip: 9 months full-time, 18 months part-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant arts, humanities or social science discipline
Other requirements
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

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.


Designed to develop an advanced critical understanding of crime in its social context, this course draws on insights across the humanities and social sciences.
Read full overview

This course incorporates sociology, law, psychology, geography, history, and cultural and media studies. It reflects the nature of criminology as a fast-developing, interdisciplinary subject concerned with understanding crime in its local, regional, national and international contexts, and in an increasingly globalised world.

You will cover areas such as:

  • How and why certain kinds of behaviour are defined as crime
  • How societies respond to these and other harmful behaviours
  • How crime is experienced by victims (or survivors) and by society as a whole
  • How crime is represented or misrepresented in the media and popular culture

You will develop skills in a range of research methods and put them into practice through an extended piece of criminological research. Hands-on experience with a local crime or criminal justice organisation is an integral part of your studies, offering you the opportunity to apply and reflect on what you have learned in the classroom.

It has been designed to equip you with key skills in:

  • understanding and assessing criminology theories and concepts
  • evaluating arguments and evidence used to support them
  • developing your own perspectives on a range of issues in criminology
  • conducting methodologically rigorous and ethically sound research
  • communicating your ideas clearly at an advanced level
  • reflecting critically on your own learning and personal development

It offers you the opportunity to study criminology in a social-scientific environment with teaching by experts in criminology, sociology, social work and social and public policy. You will gain practical experience with a local organisation (such as the police or a member agency of a local crime and drugs partnership), working on crime and how to respond to it.

A specialist supervisor will support you in completing your dissertation, and you will be able to choose from a range of optional modules in criminology and related fields.

Key facts

  • Develop practical skills and enhance your employability through internships in probation services, police forces, youth justice and prisons
  • 78% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • 100% of sociology and social policy postgraduates secured work or further study within six months of graduation

Course details

Across the autumn and spring semesters, you will take 120 credits of core and optional modules.

MA students will complete a 60-credit 15,000-word dissertation over the summer, and an appropriate dissertation supervisor will oversee your progress.


Modules are typically assessed through a 5,000-word essay or report, usually on a topic of your choice.




Contemporary Issues and Debates in Criminology

The module engages with a range of issues and debates in contemporary criminology.

Contributions to the module will be made by a number of guest speakers with experience in the criminal justice system and related areas of practice as well as from members of staff in the School of Sociology and Social Policy and other schools in the University. 

The issues and debates covered in the course of the module will vary from year so the following list is provided for illustrative purposes only: 

  • The political economy of crime and justice in an age of austerity
  • Defining and responding to 'hate crime'
  • Pluralised policing
  • Prosecuting complex cases
  • Mental health in prisons
  • State crime, human rights and transitional justice
  • 'Whole life' sentences
Criminology in Practice

This module offers you the opportunity to spend some time with an organisation working in a field related to crime, victimisation or criminal justice (a 'criminal justice organisation').

The organisation may be in the public, private or third sectors and you will be able to get a sense of the way in which the issues you have encountered in your academic studies are experienced and addressed in practice. In some cases you may also be able to contribute in a practical way to the work of the organisation. 

The academic element of the module focuses on encouraging you to reflect on your experiences observing and contributing to the work of the organisation with which you have spent time in the light of a relevant body of criminological literature and what you have learnt in other contexts.

Criminology: Questioning Theories

The module considers a range of theoretical and conceptual issues in criminology relating to the nature and scope of criminology as a discipline as well as recent developments in criminological theory. The work discussed during the course of the module will be at the forefront of the discipline.

Research Methods and Research Management

This module provides a general introduction to a range of key issues in the design and conduct of social research, plus guidance on writing both a dissertation proposal and a dissertation. The module combines more formal taught sessions with practical exercises, some of which are group-based.

By the end of the module you will be equipped with the methodological and practical skills to carry out independent research using a variety of research designs and methods.

Dissertation in Criminology (MA only)

The module is based on a structured series of meetings between you and your supervisor, the aim of which is to support you in planning, carrying out and writing up a piece of independent research on a criminological topic of your own choosing, subject to the approval of the programme director.



You will choose 40 credits of optional modules from the School of Sociology and Social Policy, or schools/departments across the University, subject to approval.

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.



Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans of up to £10,609 for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



This course will equip you with research, intellectual, cognitive and transferable skills required for a career in the police forces, probation/prison service, criminal justice, non-governmental organisations, victim support, academia, civil service or journalism.

Our postgraduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. The level of study develops vital skills and can give you a head start in the job market, enabling you to develop self-discipline and motivation that is essential for a variety of fields.

Employability and average starting salary

100% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £28,007 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £52,219.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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