Masters degrees in Law & Criminology
Your guide to masters degree courses in law, crime, security & forensics. Includes everything from forensic psychology degrees to law conversion courses.
Whether you have an academic interest in the law, want to think about the causes and consequences of criminal behaviour, or you want to become a lawyer yourself, this discipline includes hundreds of courses that cater to your needs. The law courses on offer include many that will help you qualify as a lawyer, or hone your existing skills in a particular area of law, while the criminology section takes a more academic and philosophical approach. Criminology is the study of crime in society: who commits it and why? How we, as a society, deal with it, through policy and punishment and how all these things shape the society we live in. Forensics courses will probably lead to a career working with the police and Crown Prosecution Service, if not for them. Forensic specialists analyse crime scenes, bodies, computers or tax accounts for evidence of criminal behaviour.
The law is a fascinating and amazingly broad area of study. It can lead to incredibly glamorous, highly paid careers and the chance to change the law of the land through legal precedents in court cases or by drafting laws to go before parliament. If you pursued a career with the Council of Europe you may end up designing laws that affect the entire European Union. Or the work of a lawyer can be low key, moderately paid and repetitive, negotiating divorces and house sales all day long in a small town local law firm. Fictional depictions of criminal law are what we see most on television, but most lawyers spend their days doing far more mundane work for businesses, councils or private clients. One thing is certain though, law is a constantly expanding area and there will always be a need for lawyers. Sadly the same is also true of crime, and hence forensic experts and criminologists will also always be needed and busy.
If you’ve got the stomach to immerse yourself in the criminal world but prefer to be on the side of the good guys, this is the subject area for you. Masters degrees in forensic subjects and security offer a range of hands-on ways to get involved with criminal investigation and the public and private defence industries. Criminology courses are more theoretical: analysing the causes and consequences of criminal behaviour and how society responds to it through social policy, justice, policing and punishment.
Both research and taught courses are offered. Entrance requirements will vary according to the course subject: applicants to the Forensic Psychology MSc will need a different undergraduate degree to applicants to the MSc in Gun Systems Design. Potential careers include working for the Ministry of Defence, MI6 or defence industry; investigating crime scenes for the police; working as a forensic pathologist; or becoming a civil servant advising on policy in the Home Office or Ministry of Justice.
Postgraduate studies in Law can either give you the training you need to become a solicitor or barrister, or provide existing legal professionals with greater knowledge about specialist areas that are of interest or relevance to their work. If you are hoping to qualify as a lawyer but do not have a Law degree, you will need to start by enrolling on a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), also known as a CPE or Law Conversion Course. If you already have an undergraduate degree in Law or a GDL/CPE, you will need to decide whether you want to be a barrister or solicitor and then undertake the relevant professional training course, which is a Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors or a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, formerly known as a BVC) for barristers. If you are already a lawyer or your interest in law is academic, there are hundreds of interesting research and taught masters (usually known as LLMs) on offer, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. How about an LLM in Islamic Law, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law or Oil and Gas Law. A word of warning: don’t confuse a GDL, which will lead to qualifying as a lawyer, with a PGDip, which won’t. Confusing, huh?!
Careers from here include becoming a solicitor, barrister, judge and ultimately a Law Lord. The content of a lawyer’s job varies wildly depending on the context that he or she works in. You might decide to work for the Crown Prosecution Service trying to secure convictions for criminals or as a Legal Aid Criminal Lawyer defending them. Or you might spend your days pawing over contracts as an in-house lawyer for an international shipping firm or large bank. Many politicians and a large number of civil servants are also lawyers, so it could be a route into politics.