Criminology (MSc)

The MSc in Criminology has been designed for those who wish to pursue advanced criminological study and explore some of the most cutting-edge ideas in contemporary criminology. The programme is open to graduates of various social science disciplines, and provides a multidisciplinary platform from which students will engage with the complexity of contemporary debates and challenges around crime and its control. It will appeal to those with a keen interest in security, crime and criminal justice, as well as those seeking to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the core issues facing criminal justice in the twenty-first century. It will also appeal to those who desire advanced knowledge and understanding of contemporary criminological theory and cutting-edge research methods, as well as those who wish to pursue a substantial, original research project of their own design.

As part of the core provision on the programme, you will learn about and critically engage with the most widely used contemporary criminological theories and approaches. This includes those which seek to explain crime and criminality in ways that are straightforward and useful for policy makers and practitioners, and those which seek to explicate the dramatic changes to criminal justice and the crime control apparatus over the past few decades. You will also be instructed in a wide range of research methods, and will be able to choose from an extensive list of nearly 30 option modules to complete your degree.

Highlights

  • The School of Law is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research with a strong theoretical and policy focus. It is the home of Birkbeck Law Press and publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought.
  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top three in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • The School is the home of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research. Jessica Jacobson, its director, leads a team of outstanding researchers. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the Master's programme, participating in core and specialist modules and providing dissertation supervision.
  • We use technology, such as electronic learning environments, to enhance teaching and learning. Birkbeck Library has an extensive teaching collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines, such as economics, politics and sociology. For example, it provides access to over 17,000 electronic journals, which are available online 24 hours a day.
  • You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library. 
  • There are a limited number of bursaries available for students studying on this programme, which equate to a £2,000 fee reduction. Please contact the Programme Director for further details.
  • Applicants with a strong academic background may be eligible to apply for AHRC/ESRC awards (UK and EU-based applicants only). Candidates with an outstanding academic record who demonstrate high potential for strong performance on one of our Master's degrees can apply for School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A second class honours degree in the humanities, social sciences or law.

    Other relevant qualifications and appropriate professional experience and training welcome.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    To be confirmed

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    You will attend seminars supplemented with tutorials and supervision meetings to discuss your project throughout the year. You are also invited to attend the Criminology Seminar Series talks and all other School of Law events. Birkbeck's online forum, Moodle, will provide appropriate materials and a space to share details of publications and events.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Coursework including critical reviews, essays, a research proposal and an 8000-10,000-word research project.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue a career in law enforcement or corrections, policy analysis and policy making, in non-governmental organisations, international research institutions and think-tanks (eg UNODC), within various government departments and ministries, and in the media and criminal justice system more broadly.

    Find more advice and information about law careers.

    Read Joanna Perry, Hate Crimes Officer at the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), explaining how a Birkbeck Master's degree in law helped her build a successful career in criminal justice.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You should apply as early as possible.

    Applications open in October.