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Course content

  • Study an intellectually challenging course which fosters a deep-level understanding of how our justice and penal system works
  • Benefit from the breadth and diversity of our academic expertise and our extensive professional links
  • Explore issues of theoretical and social importance with our research-active teaching staff who are recognised authorities in their fields
  • Keep up to date with latest policies, practices and debates so that you are better equipped to embark on a new career in the justice arena or to progress in your current working role
  • Study full-time or part-time to suit your personal circumstances

This exciting new MSc has been launched at a time when a process of swift and relentless change is transforming our justice system. This process aims to develop and sustain a high performing, efficient and effective criminal and community justice system which both benefits victims and rehabilitates those who offend.

Broad appeal and relevance

Our course is designed for anyone with an interest in the critical social and political challenges which crime presents. It will appeal to recent graduates with a first degree in a relevant subject area who want to deepen their knowledge. It is equally valuable for current practitioners and managers within the criminal justice, rehabilitative and penal systems, including social workers and social work managers, prison governors or officers, police officers and lawyers.

You will become part of a dynamic learning community bringing together students from diverse backgrounds who have real-world experience of criminal justice. This means you will benefit from fascinating insights into how different professionals and organisations address current issues in crime, criminal justice and punishment.

New perspectives on crime

The need for fresh and innovative thinking about crime – informed by academically credible research – has never been greater. This applies to the problems of tackling corporate crime, state crime and terrorism as well as to specific types of offending behaviour and examples of recent cases where offenders subject to supervision have gone on to commit more serious crimes.

You will examine all these issues within the context of a comprehensive and detailed analysis of crime control and the criminal justice process, including the courts, probation and prison, both in the UK and worldwide. You will also explore the most recent developments in criminological theory and research.

Our modules are structured around wide-ranging criminological debates, including criminal behaviour; comparative criminology, in particular the American justice and penal system; victimology; penology; crime prevention; crime, media and popular culture; civil liberties and human rights; gender; and race and ethnicity.

You will also hone high-level research and policy formulation skills to underpin the independent study project that is a cornerstone of your MSc. You can choose an original theme which reflects your personal interests, career aspirations or current job role.

Interdisciplinary and international approaches

The course is framed by our rigorous interdisciplinary and critical approach. You will develop an advanced understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice through a combination of theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives.

By exploring competing theoretical standpoints, we will challenge your thinking about the role of the state and the criminal justice system in the regulation of human behaviour, and about the place and limitations of criminal justice interventions in producing safe societies.

You will also compare the role and function of criminal justice processes and policy-making in England and Wales with those of other global jurisdictions.

Build your professional skills and networks

Thanks to our strong emphasis on real-world learning, this course will equip you with the qualities, skills, knowledge, professional values and personal awareness for a wide range of roles in criminal justice, penal and rehabilitative work settings.

We have extensive links with criminal justice organisations which will enhance your learning, including a programme of guest lectures where leading practitioners share their expertise and knowledge.

An inspiring learning environment

This course is delivered at One Friar Gate Square, the new home of our Law and Criminology programmes. A modern, iconic building in the heart of the city centre, it is the perfect environment for innovative and engaging teaching. 

What you will study

Criminology is both a theoretical and empirical subject. It is neither purely deductive nor purely descriptive; theorisation needs to guide the collection of data and to be grounded in evidence. This course therefore recognises that theoretical debates about a wide range of perspectives lie at the heart of criminology and criminal justice.

The MSc programme begins with an introduction to the nature of crime and contemporary criminal justice policy. It examines the main elements of modern criminal justice systems, such as the police, courts, prisons, probation, the media and private security.

Special emphasis is also given to current pressing policy issues, including the rapidly rising rates of incarceration and the changing nature of the delivery of probation intervention.

You will study the following core modules:

  • Criminological Frameworks
  • Criminal Justice: Theory and Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Global Criminal Justice Systems 

You will also have the opportunity to choose from a range of options which include:

  • Punishment, Offending and Desistance
  • Forensic Psychology and Offending
  • The American Criminal Justice System
  • Managing Criminal Justice

In addition, you will undertake an original piece of research into a theme of your own choice through our Research Methods/Dissertation/Practitioner Research modules.

How you will learn

You will study via a variety of teaching and learning approaches including lectures, online and face-to-face tutorials, discussion fora, project and work-based learning, group work and guided independent study.

Some elements of the course may be delivered via e-learning through group discussion boards and webinars, enabling a degree of flexibility for you to study when it is convenient for you.

There is also a significant focus on reflexivity, encouraging you to think about how the course is assisting you in developing your critical analytical skills.

How you'll be assessed

The emphasis is on continuous assessment and written assignments. Some modules may also include presentations and group projects for assessment purposes.


Visit the Criminal Justice and Criminology (MSc) page on the University of Derby website for more details!

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