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  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Sociology

  • Start Date

    October

  • Course Duration

    1 year (full-time) 2 years (part-time)

  • Course Type

    MSc

  • Course Fees

    website

  • Last Updated

    14 November 2017

Course content

This programme critically addresses a range of key issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system. You will have the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of crime, deviance and criminal justice from critical, theoretical, policy, legal, political and practical perspectives and will address 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, prison and punishment, policing, youth crime and justice, law enforcement and the use of new technologies. You will also study issues of theoretical and social importance with lecturers who are international experts in their fields.

Course Structure

You will take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. You will also undertake a module on research design which enables you to develop a research proposal for your 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

You may choose modules to the value of 60 credits. 

In previous years, typical modules offered were:

  • 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)
  • Prisons, Crime and Criminal Justice (Inside-Out prison exchange programme) (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.

Course 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. You 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 you 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. Prisons, Crime and Criminal Justice is an innovative module that emphasises transformative education. It is taught within a prison each week using the Inside-Out dialogical pedagogy whereby university students learn together with prisoners, completing the same readings and assessments, as well as group work and group projects (please see the website for further details). For this module you will need to undertake security clearance and mandatory prison training before being allowed to enter the prison.

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. You will subsequently undertake a 60 credit dissertation on a topic of your 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. You 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.


Visit the Criminology and Criminal Justice - MSc page on the Durham University website for more details!

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