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Social Research Methods (Criminology) (MA)

Course Description

The degree includes components necessary to provide the areas of subject-specific expertise and research methods training identified by the ESRC as essential for recognition for the ‘1 + 3’ (MA and PhD) programme.

The full-time MA starts in October and continues in three consecutive terms over 12 months. The part-time MA takes place over 24 months with candidates taking an equal balance of credits in each year of study.

You will be required to complete 180 credits for the award of an MA. The programme is comprised of the following modules.

The degree follows a logical progression in that ‘Perspectives on Social Research’ and ‘Statistical Exploration and Reasoning’ are taught in the first term. 'Research Design and Process' is also taught in the first term to help students develop a research proposal for dissertation. These modules provide introductions to the specific areas and are intended to provide a foundation for later work. In term two, ‘Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences’,‘Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences’ and 'Policy Related and Evaluation Research' are taught. These modules develop the work introduced in the first term.

The subject specific module – Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice - run through terms one and two and provide the ‘spine’ to the programme, bringing together issues identified in other modules. These modules also specifically relate more generic issues arising in research to subject-specific questions.


The programme is broadly based, covering conceptual and practical underpinnings and implications of research, and covering various research techniques and the rationale behind them. It enable students to develop essential skills in both quantitative and qualitative work and to apply those skills to specific criminological issues.


The programme covers issues in depth, as appropriate to a Master’s programme. The depth at which students learn progressively increases, with the dissertation providing an opportunity for an in-depth piece of scholarly work at an advanced level.

These are the knowledge and skills students who complete their training in research methods are expected to have acquired and to be able to apply:
-Comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, including an understanding of how to formulate researchable problems and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research problems.
-Competence in understanding, and applying appropriately in a specific subject area, a range of research methods and tools, including essential qualitative and quantitative techniques.
-Capabilities for managing research, including managing data, and conducting and disseminating research in such a way that is consistent with both professional practice and principles of research ethics and risk assessment.

In addition, students are expected to have acquired or further developed a range of transferable employment-related key skills:
-The ability to evaluate and synthesise information obtained from a variety of sources (written, electronic, oral, visual); to communicate relevant information in a variety of ways and to select the most appropriate means of communication relative to the specific task. Students will also be able to communicate their own formulations in a clear and accessible way; they will be able to respond effectively to others and to reflect on and monitor the use of their communication skills.
-The ability to read and interpret complex statistical tables, graphs and charts; to organize, classify and interpret numerical data; to make inferences from sets of data; to design a piece of research using advanced techniques of data analysis; and an appreciation of the scope and applicability of numerical data.
-Competence in using information technology including the ability to word-process, to use at least one quantitative and one qualitative computer software package effectively; to use effective information storage and retrieval; and to use web-based resources.
-The ability to plan work with others, to take a lead role in group work when required, to establish good working relationships with peers, to monitor and reflect on group work (including the student’s own group-work skills) and to take account of external feedback on contributions to group work, and on the group work process as a whole.
-Effective time-management, working to prescribed deadlines.
-The ability to engage in different forms of learning, to seek and to use feedback from both peers and academic staff, and to monitor and critically reflect on the learning process.

Subject-specific learning outcomes based on their ‘spine’ module as follows:
-An advanced knowledge of the relative strengths and weaknesses of core criminology concepts and principles – the social problem of crime and the politics and practice of criminal justice ; the construction and deconstruction of what constitutes crime.
-A clear, systematic and advanced level of understanding criminological theories and their application to criminal behaviour, criminal justice and crime control.
-An advanced understanding of key ideological and theoretical perspectives in criminology – e.g. the shift from social theories of ‘deviance’ to struggles for ‘social justice’.
-An advanced knowledge of key phenomena in criminological analysis, particularly the significance of criminological analysis and contemporary national and international issues that are redefining the study of crime, criminal behaviour and crime control.
-An advanced knowledge of the functions and practices of criminal justice as well as the relationship of these practices to political concerns of crime, disorder and security.

An appreciation of how particular criminal justice policies may be experienced by different social groups.

Course modules

Typical modules outlined below are those that were available to students studying this programme in previous years.
-Perspectives on Social Research (15 Credits)
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 Credits)
-Research Design and Process (15 credits)
-Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
-Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)
-Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice (30 credits)
-Policy Related and Evaluation Research (15 credits)
-Dissertation (60 Credits)

Visit the Social Research Methods (Criminology) (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Normally an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

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