Criminology MA

Why choose this course?

Our Criminology MA will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the complex nature of crime, harm and victimisation, together with an appreciation of the role of criminal justice systems in relation to crime control, protection and the delivery of justice.

This course will develop your critical thinking skills whilst also providing you with the tools to undertake rigorous, high quality criminological research. Through a theoretical and applied lens, you will gain a broad understanding of criminological issues and debates. For example, you will question why particular behaviours and populations are criminalised and you will challenge local and global responses to crime. You will develop a range of transferable skills sought after by employers in the field.

This course is designed for those who have a social science, socio-legal or policy studies background and who want to develop their knowledge further. The course is open to those who have a good undergraduate degree in a relevant area, and, or, to those whose background is characterised by practitioner experience at an appropriate level in a relevant field.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Kingston is well-located, offering you opportunities to see, at first hand, the criminal justice system in operation in the extensive London network of courts. As well as being in close proximity, for visits, to community-based crime-reduction programmes and many non-government organisations and charities who are connected to crime prevention and justice.
  • You may access first-hand experiences, such as hearing about imprisonment, the transition from prison, and the desistance process.
  • This course challenges traditional understandings, drawing on themes that include anti-racist, feminist, green, Marxist and queer perspectives.

What you will study

Criminology is a dynamic and multi-disciplinary subject that draws upon a range of theoretical frameworks and social research techniques to explore criminological phenomena. You will engage with the theoretical ideas that govern the discipline and apply them to better understand the substantive issues in the study of crime, harm, victimisation, criminalisation, punishment, rehabilitation and justice. You will explore historical and contemporary criminal justice policy, practice and politics in local and global contexts and develop a critical appreciation of the dynamics between criminological theory, social relations and criminal justice policy. During the course of your study, you will develop methodological knowledge and skills in order to prepare for your own criminological enquiry.

Full time: This course, studied across 1 year, is made up of 4 core modules and a dissertation.

Part time: Typically, as a part time student you will study two modules in the first year, and two modules plus a dissertation in the second year.


Core modules

Understanding Crime and Criminal Careers

30 credits

The module offers a comparative analysis of the main theoretical approaches to criminology: approaches centered on the individual (psychological and biological approaches) and approaches centered on the social context. This theoretical knowledge will be applied to the study of various types of ‘criminal trajectories' such as youth crime, professional crime, white-collar crime, and sexual offences. Students will study the role played by the police in modern and late modern societies and explore how key contemporary policing issues are situated in more general question of social control and governance. The module aims to develop an understanding of how the specific combination of individual and social factors and factors of social control lead individuals, or group of individuals, to a place where they are now labelled 'criminals'.

Punishment: History and Meaning

30 credits

Through the readings of classical texts and contemporary works, you will question: how we punish? who we punish?, why is the meaning of punishment so debated and why are prisons in a state of constant reform? The aim is to build a critical framework to better understand the decisions of judiciary and policymakers in the social history of punishment. You will explore empirical and theoretical research on sentencing, the experience of imprisonment and the wider political discourse on punishment. Local punishment practices will be compared with other countries of the West in order to understand the social and economic relations of criminal justice systems.

Critical Criminology

30 credits

This module seeks to offer a critical understanding of the social, economic and political contexts that give rise to crime and to state responses to crime. You will explore different levels of offending, from individual offences to business/corporate violations and state transgressions. We will problematise the constructions of crime and deviance and the processes that have led to the dominant, accepted conceptions of crime and deviance becoming ‘naturalised'. One of the purposes of the module is to develop an understanding of the ways in which the definition of acts as ‘crimes' is central to shaping responses to them. We will examine a wide range of social harms that criminologists and the legal system often fail to examine, or to define as offences, or those that are seen as offences, but that are under-enforced. This includes not just violations of the law, but also harmful individual, institutional, and socially-accepted activities, behaviours, and practices. We will also build up an understanding of the relationship between processes of marginalisation and criminalisation.

Criminological Research in Practice

30 credits

This module is designed to stimulate students' engagement with academic research and analysis. Students develop a critical understanding of the rationale, design and implementation of different methodologies used by social scientists for their research. They develop a framework for evaluating social research and conducting their own empirical work. In the first half of the module students gain first-hand experience in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis through instruction and class exercises. In the second half students will apply their knowledge and understanding of research methods to a specific field of enquiry.

Criminology Dissertation

60 credits

This module provides an excellent opportunity for students to extend their criminological knowledge through a detailed study on a topic of their choice and to demonstrate their capacity to utilise the key conceptual perspectives and practical skills of a working criminologist. Students can approach the module either as a theoretical study which is primarily library-based and adopts the traditional style of a dissertation as an extended essay or they can approach it as an empirical investigation and present their findings as a comprehensive research report. The module will be supervised on an individual basis by a member of the staff team.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

After you graduate

This course can lead to careers within various areas, working for both public and private organisations. This may include policy making; offender management; crime reduction and multi-agency partnership work; security and policing; criminological research; local and national government; and work for related advocacy and policy-based organisations.

Recent graduates have gone on to work for Metropolitan Police Service, Avon & Somerset Police, HM Prison Service, Suzy Lamplugh Trust/National Stalking Helpline, Prison Advice Care Trust, Security Services, Private Security, Victim Support.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Minimum of second-class honours degree, or equivalent, in criminology or a related subject; evidence of relevant certificated or extended non-certificated practice.

Prior learning - AP(E)L

Applicants with prior qualifications and learning may be exempt from appropriate parts of a course in accordance with the University's policy for the assessment of prior learning and prior experiential learning. Contact the faculty office for further information.


Please note: most students from countries outside the European Union/European Economic Area and classified as overseas fee paying, are not eligible to apply for part-time courses due to UK student visa regulations. For information on exceptions please visit the UKCISA website or email our CAS and Visa Compliance team.

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will have a personal tutor and will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

11% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 189 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1611 hours

Criminology MA

Criminology MA
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 189 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1611 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises practical assessments (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Criminology MA

Criminology MA
  • Coursework: 92%
  • Practical: 8%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetables

Each student receives a personalised timetable. This is usually available after you have completed your online enrolment, which is typically accessible one month before the start of your course.

Class sizes

You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which supports dedicated academic guidance and advice and the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you will be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on this course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. The following group of staff members are currently involved in the delivery of different elements of this course. This pool is subject to change at any time within the academic year.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £8,190
  • MA part time £4,504

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £14,500
  • MA part time £7,975

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

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