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Course overview

How is crime defined and who are 'criminals'? What causes crime and how should societies respond to it?

You'll analyse and debate questions like this on our BA Criminology, which is taught by criminologists who draw on their research experience at the cutting-edge of the discipline. You’ll explore crime, victimisation and crime control, drawing on insights from social policy, sociology, law, psychology, politics, history, and the media. This will develop your critical thinking and research skills and will give you a broad understanding of theoretical perspectives on crime and justice.

You can tailor your degree to your interests and career goals through optional modules that examine subjects like miscarriages of justice, surveillance and environmental crime. You can also enhance your CV by studying abroad at a partner institution in locations like Australia, the USA or Canada.

Why choose this course?

  • 5th for criminology in the UK in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021
  • Study abroad in locations such as Australia, Canada and the USA
  • Tailor your degree to you career aspirations through a wide range of optional modules
  • Teaching often recognised by awards such as the University Chancellor's Award for teaching quality

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer ABB excluding general studies, critical thinking and CIE thinking skills
IB score 32

Mature students

At the University of Nottingham we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on our mature students webpage.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses and who will make a valued contribution to the school and University. We will take into account a wide range of factors including post-school experience and breadth of interests as well as exam results.

Our courses require a combination of different skills, and an ability to engage with new subjects and ideas. These qualities in part relate to academic performance, but we will also look at your interests and experience.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Discussion group
  • Lectures
  • Masterclasses
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Examinations
  • Presentation
  • Project work
  • Reflective portfolios

Contact time and study hours

A typical 20-credit module on the first year of BA Criminology will involve two-hour lectures, two-hour seminars, independent reading, seminar preparation and assessment activities. You will study six 20-credit modules in the first year.

You’ll have at least 8-12 hours per week of contact time at lectures, seminars and tutorials. You will also be expected to undertake independent study.

Study abroad

On this course, you can apply to spend a semester studying abroad at one of our partner institutions in locations such as Australia, Canada and the USA.

Teaching is typically in English, but there may be opportunities to study in another language if you are sufficiently fluent.

This will give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your CV by experiencing another culture. You can choose to study similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham, or expand your knowledge by taking other options.

Year in industry

An optional placement year is available for all undergraduate students whose course does not have a compulsory placement or study abroad element. The University's Careers and Employability Service will support you in arranging this.


Our placements and internship programme provides local, national and international placements to ensure our graduates are competitive in the current job market. You'll have the opportunity to develop key skills and experience in the workplace.


In the first year, your core modules will introduce ways of understanding and investigating contemporary societies, defining, measuring and explaining crime, and thinking critically about the institutions that make up the criminal justice system.

A range of optional introductory modules introduce you to important themes and topics such as deviance, contemporary culture and human rights.

Core modules

Criminology: Understanding Crime and Victimisation

This module lays the foundations for further study in criminology by looking at its development as a discipline. You will consider how crime is defined and counted, and investigate the sources of criminological knowledge.

The main focus is on key theoretical perspectives in criminology, and how they help us to understand and explain crime and victimisation and social reactions to it.

Introducing Social Policy

Focusing on the main concepts and approaches to social policy, this module assumes little or no background knowledge. It looks at the means by which something is framed as a social problem, with particular reference to poverty and issues of exclusion.

You will be introduced to the main areas of social policy, mainly in the UK, and explore how different social groups experience social policies, the interaction of public, private, voluntary and informal sectors in welfare provision, and ways in which it is financed.

Introduction to the Criminal Justice 'System' in England and Wales

This module seeks to introduce and contextualise the function and processes of the agencies and institutions that operate within the criminal justice system.

The module will encourage you to identify the tensions and inequalities that lead criminologists and criminal justice practitioners to promote reform of the criminal justice system. Summary of the topics to be covered include:

  • Theorising criminal justice and punishment: Exploring models of criminal justice and penology.
  • Overview of the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales
  • Key agencies, processes and institutions within the Criminal Justice System including: police, prosecution, judiciary, sentencing, management of offenders, youth justice and alternatives to custody
  • Criminal Justice policy-making process, the role of victims and the politicisation of criminal justice
  • Inequalities and bias within the Criminal Justice System: race, gender and class
  • International influences of criminal justice-policy making: organised crime and terrorism; European Union; International cases studies influencing reform agenda
Investigating Social Worlds

This module introduces you to the nature of social research through exploration of the fundamental philosophical, methodological and ethical debates on 'how to think of social research' and 'how to do social research'.

The module begins with discussions of the primary features, functions and characteristics of social research, the distinctions between social research and other modes of investigating and producing knowledge about the social world and the steps typically involved in conducting social research.

Next, attention is focused on social research paradigms and how the different ontological, epistemological and methodological specificities map onto research questions, methods and designs. Attention will then be placed on some of the principal methods of data collection in the social sciences such as surveys, social experiments, interviews, visual methods, group discussions and observation.

The module concludes by examining issues of ethics, status, power and reflexivity in social research. 

Punishment and Penalty

This module will introduce you to a range of debates about the nature of punishment and its roles in society. We will explore the philosophical, political and historical reasons why societies use punishment and examine accounts of the changing nature of punishment since the Enlightenment.

We will also examine the nature of contemporary systems of punishment based on imprisonment, the challenges they face and the alternative forms of punishment that have emerged in the second half of the 20th century.

The module will also examine key social questions relating to why and how societies punish lawbreakers differentially based on major social divisions.

Understanding Contemporary Society

The first part of the module introduces you to some of the contemporary and historical debates in social sciences in the 21st century.

The social sciences are centrally concerned with the investigation of a changing world and the recent arrival of the internet, globalisation, migration and other features will be investigated. However social science is a discipline with a long historical tradition. Here it is key that you have a working knowledge of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Du Bois to understand the world of the 19th and early 20th century. The module explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these ideas.

The second part of the course mostly relies upon the social science thinking of the 20th and 21st century. Questions such as the impact of the arrival of the consumer society, the importance of difference and diversity, the role of utopia, the importance of art and social movements, the development of the network and mediated society, issues related to gender identity and sexuality, and our shared ideas about the urban setting and the future are all covered in this part of the course.

Overall, you will be introduced to a range of different perspectives in helping you understand a changing world.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Year two focuses on how criminologists are grappling with problems of crime and justice emerging in the 21st century. We will develop your understanding of the theoretical and methodological foundations of criminology.

Optional modules are chosen from criminology, sociology and social policy.

Core modules

Contemporary Theories of Crime, Justice and Society

This module is concerned with how we can make sense of crime, and responses to it, in today’s society. It sets out to look at contemporary theories about crime, justice and society in their historical context. It looks at how ideas have been revised to take account of 21st century realities including globalisation, mass migration, changing gender relations, terrorism, economic and environmental crisis and the rise of risk society.

Research Design and Practice (Qualitative Methods)

This module will introduce you to the principles of research design, practice and ethics in relation to qualitative research, and provides experience in designing a qualitative research project.

Optional modules

China Beyond the Headlines

This course emphasises sociological theories with reference to current events and social policy making in China. Topics change every year according to what is in the news, but may include:

  • Nationhood, identity and ethnicity
  • Gender, family and sexualities
  • Inequalities, social capital and welfare
  • Health, education and popular culture
  • Crime, deviance and justice
Controversy: Experts, Post-Truth and Fake News

This module will examine the role of experts and expertise in modern society. In many cases conflicting information circulates in the media and people do not know who to trust and what to believe. Should we listen to ‘the science’? We are allegedly living in a post-truth society where participants in polarized debates go as far as accusing each other of presenting fake news. Experts are supposed to provide neutral advice but often get drawn into the fray, too.

We will examine selected case studies that allow us to better understand the role of experts in society. Case studies may include climate change; Brexit; legal and illegal drugs; and vacation.

Crime Stories: Crime, Justice and the Media

What is the relationship between crime, justice and the media? Does media depiction simply reflect public interests and attitudes, or help to shape them? Does media representation of 'crime', 'criminals' and criminal justice impact penal and social policies?

These are some of the questions we will debate through drawing on theory, research and illustrative media examples.

Ethnicity, 'Race' and Everyday Life

This module examines the intersection of three key concepts in contemporary sociology - ethnicity 'race' and everyday life. It particularly considers:

  • existing sociological theories of everyday life concerning its political relevance and historical specificity as well as methodological issues as to how 'the everyday' has been researched
  • sociological models of ethnicity and 'race', the construction of ethnic boundaries and identities, the relationship between 'culture' and 'ethnicity', and its relevance in the contemporary world
  • a series of empirical case studies illustrating the experience and complexities of ethnic and racial identities in the realm of everyday life
Police, Policing and the Police

This module is concerned with the sociology and politics of policing. The main focus will be on England and Wales but the module will draw on literature and experiences from other jurisdictions around the world and from the United States of America in particular. It will cover a range of topics such as:

  • the meaning of, and differences between, police, policing and the police
  • the history and development of policing and the policesince the 18th century
  • the occupational and organisational cultures of the police
  • the governance and accountability of the police
  • police powers
  • specialisation in policing eg crime detection, traffic policing, public order policing, terrorism and political policing
  • policing strategies and tactics
  • policing and the media
  • police ethics
  • policing social diversity
  • the pluralisation of policing
Prisons and Society

This module focuses on the relationship between imprisonment and society, paying specific attention to the England and Wales prison estate and UK Society. The module requires reading, questioning, and evaluating of the following topics:

  • Notion of a criminally deviant act and consequent ramifications (for example, imprisonment)
  • Relationship between welfare provision and imprisonment rates (for example, social exclusion issues)
  • The political and historical natures of punishment (for example, overt versus covert practices)
  • Prisoner population demographics in England and Wales
  • Roles, responsibilities, and issues for Her Majesty’s Prison Service
  • Prison culture (both staff and inmate)
  • Institutionalisation theory and the nature of imprisonment
  • Provision and receipt experiences of prison mental healthcare
  • Sociological research in prisons (for example, (in)famous ethnographies/contemporary analysis)
  • Future directions for imprisonment (for example, reducing reoffending strategies)
Social Research and Community Engagement

This module provides you with an opportunity to apply the insights and skills of social science to enhance your understanding of the role of the voluntary sector in contemporary society with special reference to the city of Nottingham. At the heart of the module is a one-semester community engagement opportunity where you will spend on average eight hours a week, but varying from week to week, with a local community organisation.

The placement enables you to experience at first-hand the challenges, dilemmas and opportunities to make a difference that local organisations face every day. They will have the opportunity to deploy social research skills and academic knowledge to assist the organisations in question.

The teaching element of the module will provide the following: at the very start an overview of the role of the voluntary sector in contemporary society, theories of civil society, and an introduction to some of the models of community organising and public sociology a two day training package in the autumn semester on models of community organising delivered by Nottingham Citizens an opportunity to reflect on progress with the community engagement advice on how to construct the assessment.

The module will also draw on two outside speakers from local community organisations to provide rich, first-hand accounts from within the voluntary sector.

#Sociology: Identity, Self and Other in a Digital Age

We now live in a digital age where new technology, online platforms, applications and wearable devices are an indispensable and, in some ways, an inescapable part of our lives. New digital technologies enable us to track our daily lives and routines, to filter our realities, to present different versions of ourselves, to form attachments and intimacies, engage in politics and protest. From the selfie culture, through Tinder love and Twitter revolutions, new digital technologies and social media shape not only our perceptions of Self but also our relations with others.

This module introduces you to the key debates in digital sociology, paying particular attention to the rise of new social media and how this affects identity, belonging, intimacy and civic participation. The main focus of this module is a critical engagement with how Web 2.0 has affected perceptions of self and social relations, exploring why some people engage with new technology whilst others actively resist it.

Youth Crime and Justice

This module explores the phenomena of youth, crime and justice. Analysis of official statistics and self-report survey data will be placed within a broader understanding of the social construction of youth, drawing on political, media and other sources. The module will critically assess explanations of youth crime and desistance, including major theoretical explanations and developmental/life course perspectives.

The second half of the module considers social responses to youth crime and the role of the youth justice system in particular. The various discourses which inform youth justice will be compared and the ways in which they have been applied in different jurisdictions will be assessed. Finally, the module will consider the recent focus on early intervention, emerging arguments for minimum intervention and the potential for youth justice reform.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Year three provides the opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge through researching for and writing a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

There will also be a choice of optional modules allowing you to specialise in your areas of interest.

Core modules


For the dissertation, you will explore a topic of your choice under the supervision of a designated dissertation group tutor. Work on the dissertation extends over both semesters in the third year. The subject matter must be relevant to your honours subject and approved by the tutor.

The study may be entirely based on the analysis of secondary literature; alternatively it may involve the collection and analysis of primary data, including documentary or textual data, on a scale appropriate to the work-load involved.

During the autumn semester, you should identify a topic and decide on an appropriate strategy of enquiry and analysis. Initial reading and planning for the dissertation should be undertaken mostly in the autumn semester, including literature reviews. A dissertation plan is submitted by the end of November. Any empirical investigation should be substantially underway by the end of the autumn semester.

In the spring semester analysis of the literature and any primary material should be completed and the dissertation written up by early in the summer term.

Optional modules

Another Country: Crime and Crime Control in South Africa

This module looks at crime and ways of controlling it in South Africa (SA), a country with a different history and social structure to the UK. The focus will vary from year to year but is likely to include the:

  • impact of colonialism and white minority rule on crime and crime control in SA since the country's transition to democracy in 1994
  • relationship between forms of criminal and transitional justice and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in coming to terms with violations of human rights under apartheid
  • nature and extent of crime in contemporary SA with a focus on contemporary problems such as gangsterism and organised crime, (sexual) violence against women and children and violent xenophobia
  • usefulness of criminological theories developed in different social contexts (primarily in the US and the UK) in understanding and explaining crime in SA, and in suggesting ways of controlling it
  • political economy of crime and crime control in one of the most unequal societies in the world and the relationships between crime and other forms of social harm, criminal justice and social justice, crime prevention and social policy
  • history and development of policing and the response to crime including the reform of the state or public police, the pluralisation of policing and the 're-segregation' of South African society since the end of apartheid 1620
Contemporary Developments in Welfare Policy

The module will explore the contemporary developments and debates in the provision and delivery of welfare services. 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.

Crimes and Harms of the Powerful

The module will cover the following broad themes:

  • State crime, corporate crime, state-corporate crime, harm, green crime
  • State-facilitated and state-initiated corporate crime
  • Capitalism, neoliberalism, austerity and indifference
  • Crimes of commission and omission
  • Command and control regulation vs. business self-regulation
Cults and New Religious Movements: Power, Belief and Conflict

This module serves as an introduction to the study of new religious movements, including groups sometimes referred to as 'cults', and the theoretical concepts used to understand them. A particular focus will be on the degree of tension such groups exhibit with their broader social and religious environments, as well as how they are conceived, both in academia and the media.

It will also consider how issues discussed more broadly in sociology, such as deviance, authority, violence, modernity, globalisation, sex and gender, and group dynamics, bear on our understanding of new religious movements.

Cyber Crime

This module introduces you to the criminological study of cyber crime. It draws on key literature and current research to consider the ways in which new and emerging forms of digital media and information and communication technologies provide opportunities for a variety of deviant and criminal behaviours. The module will typically cover the following broad themes:

  • Criminological definitions and theories of cyber crime
  • Case studies of types of cyber crime including for example: fraud, identify theft, hacking, revenge porn, sexting, online harassment, trolling and cyberstalking
  • Victims’ experiences of cyber crime
  • Why individuals commit certain types of cyber crime
  • Cyber crime in a global world
  • The policing, surveillance and regulation of cyber crime
  • The implication of the ‘internet of things’ for privacy and security
Education and Society

This module seeks to connect the historical and more contemporary debates in education to a critical understanding of society. The main focus is through a discussion of sociological, philosophical and policy based issues to explore the purpose of education in a modern globalised world. This however only becomes possible if we question more neutral and instrumental approaches to education and seek to more explicitly explore its connection to more normative values and concerns.

In this respect, the module will seek to connect ideas in education to a diversity of ways of conceiving of citizenship now and within the past. Most of the module is informed by European, North and South American traditions within sociology although it will also draw on examples and ideas from elsewhere.

Exploring Social and Cultural Life Through Films

Using different genres of film, this module examines contemporary theoretical and empirical debates in relation to a host of issues closely associated with theproduction and contestation of identity, culture, and everyday life. Underpinning by the central theoretical theme of cultural production, consumption, and practices.

The module will illustrate the problematics of culture through the sociological exploration of social condition, identity, consumerism, consumption, consumer culture, slavery, choice, voluntary simplicity, intimacy, body, embodiment, sexual culture, desire, sexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, dress, fashion, multiculturalism, human rights and social inclusion/exclusion.

Gender, the Family and Social Policy

Introducing feminist approaches to social policy, this module considers how social policy and the development of the welfare state have been underpinned by ideas around gender difference and the structure and responsibilities of the family.

We will examine feminist perspectives on welfare, considering how policy might reflect and perpetuate the gendered division of labour in the family and society more broadly. For example, we will examine whether the 'male breadwinner' model has been replaced by a policy commitment to gender equality.

The module will thus examine how social policy excludes or incorporates women at the intersection of the public/private divide, problematising the terms 'justice', 'citizenship' and 'inequality' in relation to gender. Throughout, we will also consider how gender intersects with other axes of difference and inequality, such as 'race' and class.

Migration and Transnationalism

This module examines key issues and concepts connected to the movement and settlement of people in Europe and beyond. Informed by a transnational studies perspective, the module considers migration debates and practices in a critical, comparative and historically informed manner.

The first part of the module explores the political, social and economic factors that cause people to move in an increasing interconnected world. The second part of the module is dedicated to the examination of the different theories of integration and settlement and processes of inclusion and exclusion.

The key issues and concepts addressed will include those of transnationalism and diaspora; gender and intersectionality; transnational families and global care chains; multiculturalism, integration and assimilation; identity, home and belonging.

Rehabilitation, Risk and Desistance

This module aims to develop critical understandings of:

  • the concepts of 'offender' rehabilitation and the changing nature of rehabilitative enterprises over time
  • the role of risk in the organisation of the criminal justice system and responses to offending
  • research about desistance from crime and its relationship to rehabilitation and risk

The module will explore the role of key agencies involved in rehabilitation including the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies and the experiences of those subject to community justice.


This module will chart the evolution of the social construction of the victim and presence in criminal justice policy by examining the historical, theoretical and research material in victimology. The module will cover the following broad themes:

  • Theoretical underpinnings of ‘victimology’
  • The victim’s movement
  • Key issues and debates in the field of victimology
  • Various approaches to responding to victim needs by both governmental and non-governmental organisations
The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2020*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

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 we also make recommendations of specific titles which you may wish to consider purchasing.

If you choose to take an optional placement module, you will need to factor in travel costs, which will be dependent on location of placement and proximity to term-time address.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.


A degree in criminology can provide a solid foundation for a criminal justice career, for example, in the police, prison or probation service. 

Your personal tutor will oversee your academic and personal development, and will offer support with your studies and welfare. There are also regular careers talks and events on enhancing your CV.

In addition to the subject-specific knowledge that you will build throughout this course, you'll develop key transferable skills that are in high-demand by employers. These skills will benefit you in roles within local or national government, voluntary associations engaged with the social issues deriving from criminal behaviour, and with private companies with interests in security and risk assessment.

Graduate destinations

Our BA Criminology can open doors to a career in various sectors including criminal justice, law enforcement, law practice and community safety.

Recent graduates from the school are now working with the Youth Justice Board, Ministry of Justice and other governmental departments.

Average starting salary and career progression

77.4% of undergraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £23,750.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18


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.