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Criminology has a long and distinguished tradition at Kent with its research base in the Crime, Culture and Control Cluster. The MA was founded by the world-famous criminologist, the late Professor Jock Young. Read more
Criminology has a long and distinguished tradition at Kent with its research base in the Crime, Culture and Control Cluster.

The MA was founded by the world-famous criminologist, the late Professor Jock Young. You will be lectured, supervised and tutored by a team of scholars and researchers internationally renowned for their world-class teaching and publications.

Criminology is an important part of the activities of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR), which is one of the four top institutions of its kind in the UK as ranked by the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. In 2012, we were awarded the first National Award for Excellence in Teaching Criminology by the British Criminology Society in recognition of our innovative approach.

The atmosphere of the School is informal and friendly and there is a lively and diverse postgraduate community. Regular staff/graduate seminars introduce you to the work of academic staff and research students as well as academic visitors, and provide opportunities both for sociability and for intellectual stimulation. The large number of academic staff and our favourable staff/student ratios mean that academic staff are readily accessible. Where appropriate, research students are encouraged to teach part-time in the School.

Visit the website https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/177/criminology

Research areas

Our research areas are listed below; wider research areas are also available from our European partner institutions.

- Crime, Control and Culture

The School has a long-established tradition of conducting criminological research. The group covers a diverse range of topics, employs both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and draws upon different theoretical traditions. We have particular expertise in the following areas: cultural criminology; crime, punishment and social change; drug use; gender, crime and criminal justice; penology and imprisonment (especially of female offenders); policing; quasi-compulsory treatment for drug-using offenders; race, crime and criminal justice; restorative justice and young offenders; crime and the ‘night-time economy’, terrorism and political crime; violence; youth crime and youth justice.

Present and current research has been funded by the ESRC, the Home Office and the Youth Justice Board.

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website (http://www.kent.ac.uk/sspssr/staff/).

- Dr Phil Carney:

Lecturer in Criminology; Erasmus and International Co-ordinator; Kent Co-ordinator, Common Study Programme in Critical Criminology

Photographic theory; spectacle; radical criminology; cultural criminology; critical visual culture; post-structuralist critical theory; desire and power; the micropolitics of fascism.

- Dr Caroline Chatwin:

Senior Lecturer in Criminology; Director of Studies for Undergraduate Criminology

European drug policy; young people and victimisation; drug use and subcultural studies.

- Dr Simon Cottee:

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Sociology of crime and deviance; sociology of intellectuals; terrorism and apostasy; coercion; political violence.

- Professor Chris Hale:

Professor of Criminology

How political debates around law and order have affected responses to crime; quantitative analysis of crime data, especially the relationships between crime and fear of crime with wider economic and social changes; evaluations of new interventions and crime reduction strategies; policing; youth crime.

- Dr Jonathan Ilan:

Lecturer in Criminology

Cultural criminology; street culture; urban ethnography; media and crime; youth crime; justice and policing.

- Professor Roger Matthews:

Professor of Criminology; Director of Studies for Postgraduate Criminology

Penology, community safety and crime prevention, prostitution, armed robbery, punitiveness, left realism. Recent publications include: Prostitution Politics and Policy (2008); Doing Time: An Introduction to the Sociology of Imprisonment (2009).

- Professor Larry Ray:

Professor of Sociology

Sociological theory; globalisation; race and ethnicity; violence.

- Dr Simon Shaw:

Lecturer in Criminal Justice Studies; Director of Studies

Youth crime; youth justice; politics of crime; criminal justice policy-making.

- Emeritus Professor K. Stenson:

Professor of Criminology

Criminological theory, risk and governance, youth crime.

- Professor Alex Stevens:

Professor of Criminal Justice; Deputy Head of School (Medway)

The politics and practice of criminal justice, with a specific emphasis on national and international drug policy, youth justice, gangs, organised crime, probation practice and the use of evidence in policymaking.


Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills. We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation as well as time management and leadership skills. You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School. A postgraduate degree in the area of Criminology is a particularly valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions.

Recent graduates have gone on to pursue careers across the criminal justice system, encompassing areas such as counter-terrorism, advocacy, probation, social policy and research. Our graduates have found positions in organisations such as the Civil Service, the Ministry of Justice, various police services and the Probation Service.

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/

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This programme critically addresses a range of key issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system. Students have the opportunity to develop in-depth understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice from critical theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives. Read more
This programme critically addresses a range of key issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system. Students have the opportunity to develop in-depth understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice from critical theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives. Addressing issues of historical and contemporary concern such as terrorism, prostitution, legal and illegal drugs, crime in the night time economy, forced migration, gender and crime, domestic violence, crime prevention, punishment, policing, youth crime and justice, law enforcement and the use of new technologies. Students study issues of theoretical and social importance with lecturers who are international experts in their fields.

Course Structure

Students take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. Students also undertake a module on research design which enables students to develop a research proposal for their dissertation.

Core Modules:
Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice (30 credits)
-Apply theories of crime and justice to topical issues
-Theory and practice of criminal justice
-Analysis of contemporary politics
-Governance of criminal justice

Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits)
-Introduction to social scientific research
-Establishing cause and interpreting meaning in social sciences
-Essentials of quantitative and qualitative research in social science research

Research Design and Progress (15 credits)
-Formulating research questions
-Ethical review procedures
-Research proposal design, evaluation, and development
-Conversational analysis in practice
-Qualitative interviewing.

Dissertation (60 credits)
-A dissertation of up to 15,000 words.

Optional Modules:
Typical modules outlined below are those that were available to students styuding this programme in previous years. Choose modules to the value of 60 credits, listed below (60 credits)
-Gender, Violence and Abuse (30 credits)
-Drugs, Crime and Society (30 credits)
-Crime, Justice and the Sex Industry (30 credits)
-Cybercrime and cybersecurity: (30 credits)
-Sociology of Forensic Science (30 credits)
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits)
-Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
-Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)

You will also have the opportunity to take a range of modules from other programmes within the Faculty such as those associated with the MSc in Risk and Security.

Learning and Teaching

The MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 1 year full-time programme which may also be taken part-time. The programme’s core consists of a 60 credit dissertation module, one 30 credit module on Criminological Theory, one 15 credit module on Theories of Social Research and one 15 credit module on Research Design. Students are also required to undertake 60 further credits of modules from within SASS or other related departments which may be taught in a variety of ways.

Core teaching on the programme falls primarily within the two 10 week terms, the second of which commences one week prior to the Undergraduate Term. Depending on module choice students may receive between 6 and 8 hours of tuition per week in either or both of these terms.

The programme is taught according to a variety of approaches. Modules such as ‘Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice’ operate a standard 2 hour session within which lecturing, seminar discussion, workshops or presentations may take place. Modules such as ‘Perspectives on Social Research’, ‘Quantitative Methods’ and ‘Qualitative Methods’ operate a weekly lecture series followed by seminar discussion. Other modules such as ‘Statistical Exploration and Reasoning’ operate computer-based practicals.

Following completion of teaching in terms 1 and 2, the ‘Research Design’ module allows for 4 day long workshops. Reflecting on the process of research design, the module supports the student in formulating the research question for their dissertation.

The MSc programme is research-led at its core. The compulsory module 'Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice' links explicitly with the research activities of the criminology staff; the module ‘Crime Violence and Abuse’ links with the current research activities of the School’s research group of the same name; and ‘Drugs, Crime and Society’ is taught by an internationally renowned expert in the field . Students subsequently undertake a 60 credit dissertation on a topic of their choice supervised by staff who are actively researching in a relevant area. While this module is intended to afford an opportunity for a significant piece of independent and original research, it includes up to four hours of regular supervision which takes place typically from the end of term 2. Students will also participate in two one-hour workshops convened by a supervisor and usually alongside others researching in similar areas.

While teaching is intensive, particularly in terms 1 and 2, it is intended that the programme presents options for part-time study. Consequently, teaching is undertaken where possible in timetable slots which take place late in the afternoon.

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How do we understand crime? How can it be prevented? Why should crime be punished, and how should we go about it? Criminologists engage with some of the most pressing issues, decisions and dilemmas facing societies today. Read more
How do we understand crime? How can it be prevented? Why should crime be punished, and how should we go about it? Criminologists engage with some of the most pressing issues, decisions and dilemmas facing societies today. On our course you explore the nature of crime, criminal justice and punishment within wider social contexts.

Criminology at Essex builds on strong sociological foundations and reflects the diversity of staff interests, including leading contributors to studies of women, young people and criminal justice, prostitution, homicide, victimisation, visual criminology and media, organised crime and law enforcement, terrorism and surveillance, environmental crime and more. Our courses provide critical, conceptual and theoretical analyses of crimes and harms, from the local to the global.

The course provides you with a strong grounding in the key theories, understandings and issues covered by cutting-edge criminology. You explore a wide range of topics, including:
-The analysis, politics and prevention of crime
-Globalisation and various forms of crime
-Security and the state
-New criminological theory
-Terrorism, counter-terrorism, surveillance and human rights

You also develop the skills needed to make your own contribution to the field, gaining a critical and coherent perspective on empirical research and examining the key assumptions and ideological underpinnings of qualitative and quantitative research.

Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and we consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores, including 96% overall student satisfaction in 2015.

Our expert staff

You are taught by a team of award-winning internationally renowned scholars widely regarded as leading experts in their fields.

Criminology at Essex is led by Professor Eamonn Carrabine, Professor Pamela Cox, Dr Isabel Crowhurst, Professor Pete Fussey, Dr Anna Sergi, Professor Nigel South, Dr Darren Thiel and Dr Jackie Turton.

All staff are actively engaged in research at the cutting edge of their respective fields of interest and specialism and bring the very latest developments and findings into the classroom. All are prominent writers and the criminology team collectively author the best-selling criminology textbook, Criminology: A Sociological Introduction (now in its 3rd edition), used on undergraduate courses across the country.

Our staff have worked at local, national and international level with bodies from local councils and the Home Office, to Amnesty International and the United Nations.

Specialist facilities

-Our Centre for Criminology hosts expert speakers and practitioners
-Dedicated postgraduate support facilities through a unique Student Resource Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
-Our renowned off-campus Graduate Conference takes place every February
-The Sociology common room is open all day Monday-Friday, is stocked with daily newspapers, magazines and journals
-Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the -UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
-Our students’ Sociology Society is a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates

Your future

This course provides excellent preparation for further academic study, and many of our postgraduates go on to successful academic careers, both in the UK and overseas.

Others have established careers in non-governmental organisations, local authorities, specialist think tanks, government departments, charities, media production, and research organisations.

We work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Formative Debates in Criminology
-Current Controversies in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy
-Sociological Research Design
-Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis (optional)
-Organised Crime: Global and Local (optional)
-Critical Perspectives on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (optional)

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The Master of Arts program in the Department of Sociology offers students sociological training in three core areas. sociological theory, methodology and statistics. Read more
The Master of Arts program in the Department of Sociology offers students sociological training in three core areas: sociological theory, methodology and statistics. Our program is research oriented and students are required to demonstrate competence in one substantive area of concentration through the successful completion and defence of their thesis projects.

The expertise of our faculty is wide-ranging. Under their supervision, students in the MA program have conducted original research on a variety of topics, including, for example: offence specialization amongst juvenile delinquents, social support and stress, Chinese social clubs, women athletes' perception of coaches, bisexual identity and politics, ethnic and gender inequality, contraceptive risk-taking, youthful involvement in prostitution, the subculture of sky-diving, trust and the health care system and perceived victimization.

Once students are admitted to the program, they have a variety of opportunities to get to know faculty research interests, and what might be possible for thesis project research at the Master's level.

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