Postgraduate study
Designed to develop an advanced critical understanding of crime in its social context, this programme draws on insights from across the humanities and social sciences.
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
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
MA: £8,235; PGDip: £5,490 - Terms apply
International fees
MA: £17,910; PGDip: £11,940 - Terms apply
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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.

You will consider questions such as:

  • How and why do certain kinds of behaviour get defined as 'crime' whilst other harmful activities do not?
  • Who has the power to determine what is 'criminal' and why does this vary across different times and places?
  • How can theory and research help us to account for different kinds of lawbreaking behaviour?
  • How do societies respond to the problem of 'crime' and its impact on victims through systems of formal and informal social control?

This course 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 crime or criminal justice organisation (such as the police or a member agency of a local crime and drugs partnership), offering you the opportunity to apply and reflect on what you have learned in the classroom.

You will be able to choose from a range of optional modules in criminology and related fields. You will also develop skills in a range of research methods, and your dissertation will enable you to put them into practice by carrying out and writing up an extended piece of criminological research.

The course has been designed to equip you with key skills in: 

  • understanding and assessing criminological theories and concepts 
  • evaluating arguments and the 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

Key facts

  • Develop practical skills and enhance your employability by spending time with a criminal justice agency such as a local crime and drugs partnership or the police
  • 78% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • 96.3% of sociology and social policy postgraduates secured work or further study within six months of graduation

Full 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 dissertation over the summer supported and advised by a supervisor with appropriate skills and expertise.


Modules are assessed using a number of methods. As well as exams, you will complete essays or reports, usually on a topic of your choice.



Core modules

Theoretical Frontiers in Criminology

This 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.

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.

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.


Optional modules

You will choose 40 credits of optional modules from the below list and/or from schools/departments across the University, subject to the approval of the MA Programme Director.

Between Europe and the Middle East: Critical Questions of Citizenship and Identity

This module will focus on two geo-political regions: Europe and the Middle East in order to explore and analyse a set of relevant discourses that pertain to understandings and experiences of citizenship and the political conditions for full citizenship. 

Discourses of freedom, human rights, democracy, gender and multi-culturalism will be of particular concern. These discourses will be situated within the specific regions of Europe and the Middle East and the module will end with the case example of Turkey as a country which perhaps bridges the Middle East and Europe.

Dynamics of International Social Policy

This module introduces you to comparative analyses of different welfare state models and approaches to social and public policy; institutions, issues and debates in international social and public policy; and methods of cross-country comparative analysis.

Topics include:

  • perspectives of international social policy
  • welfare state typologies and cross-national comparisons
  • international institutions, standards and goals
  • EU policy
  • welfare in less developed countries
  • globalisation and welfare states
  • international migration and the boundaries of welfare
  • discrimination in a multicultural world
  • international cooperation, policy learning and policy transfer
  • comparative research methodology
Economics and Policy Analysis

The module will provide an introduction to the application of economic theories and concepts to policy analysis and provide an overview of public sector economics and of current issues in public sector economic analysis.

Topics covered include public expenditure, competition and market failure/externalities, public goods, discount rates and cost benefit analysis. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be examined as a way of further understanding the ongoing policy developments.

The module is designed for 'non-mathematicians' and does not involve any econometric analyses. No prior knowledge of economics is required.

Globalisation, Citizenship and Identity

This module considers the following key debates in the contemporary study of citizenship, identities and globalisation:

Block one:

  • Global and cosmopolitan citizenship
  • Globalisation, identity and violence
  • Gendering globalisation and citizenship, and globalising gender
  • Minorities, multiculturalism and politics of difference
  • Intimate/sexual citizenship

Block two:

  • From 'imagined communities' to the 'shock of denationalisation'
  • Ethnicity: culture politicized
  • Globalisation and 'resistance identities'
  • Transnationalism and diasporas
  • Theories of (contemporary) racism
Human Rights and Critical Modern Slavery

This module critically interrogates dominant liberal discourse on human rights and modern slavery.

Drawing on academic, popular and policy debate on human rights and case studies of phenomena that are deemed to constitute contemporary human enslavement - such as human trafficking, prostitution, domestic servitude, worst forms of child labour, forced labour and bonded labour in a number of sectors and regions - the module offers an opportunity to critically deconstruct the theoretical and political assumptions that underpin this discourse. 

The module ultimately aims to draw your attention to the deep connections between human rights and social, economic and political inequality on the basis of gender, class, race, sexuality, age and other identity markers under contemporary conditions of globalisation.

Information Age Management in Government

The module will examine a range of themes and issues within the domain of electronic government and democracy. It will aim to demonstrate the embeddedness of information and communications technologies, including the internet, in the everyday managerial life of government administration. As such it will locate information and its communication as crucial resources for management in government, including for the establishment both of new working practices and for new relationships in and around government, particularly those with citizens.

Leadership, Strategy and Performance in the Public Sector

This module will examine the role of leadership in the public sector. It will discuss different concepts of:

  • leadership
  • organisational culture and change
  • performance in the public sector
  • the use of knowledge and information in organisation learning
  • performance improvement in public sector organisations
  • the use of strategy in the public sector

You will study different models and approaches to these concepts, how they are affected by and interact with the policy environment, and how they influence each other.

Managing People

This module will examine the concepts, models and practices of managing people in the public sector. It will study the development and approaches of how staff are managed in the public sector in a range of countries (for example, UK and other European countries). The module will also investigate how public sector staff are recruited, rewarded etc and how their performance is measured.

Policy Analysis: Concepts and Theories

This module provides an applied, critical and informed understanding of policy-making and policy analysis in government.

It examines key concepts, models and theories of policy-making and policy analysis, and illustrates them by examining policy-making in Britain and other countries.

Welfare Policy

The module will examine theories of welfare, the funding of the welfare state and key changes in welfare policies, such as the increasing focus on markets and consumer choice, partnerships, the personalisation of service delivery, and the increasing role of the not for profit sector in service delivery.

It will use developments in health service, social care and social security to explore wider issues in the development of welfare services. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be examined as a way of further understanding the developments in the UK and as a form of policy learning for UK reform. It will look at the obstacles and issues associated with these changes.



The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide. Further information is available on the school website.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans 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.


Careers and professional development

This programme will equip you with the knowledge and research, intellectual, cognitive and transferable skills needed for a career in:

  • criminal justice (policing, probation and the prison service)
  • community safety
  • national and local government
  • non-governmental organisations and advocacy groups
  • academia
  • journalism

Our graduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. Studying at postgraduate level can give you a head start in the job market by helping you to gain new knowledge and develop vital skills.

Employability and average starting salary

96.3% 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. £27,900 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £31,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2016/17. 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.


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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