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MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice

The MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice engages with the complex problems raised by crime, justice and the pursuit of criminal justice in our contemporary world. This programme provides you with the opportunity to study critical developments, debates and responses in the field of crime and criminal justice.

Students in a seminar

Issues raised by crime and justice today present new challenges for legitimacy, security and social justice. Our MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice allows you to study those challenges in local, international and global contexts, engaging with theory and research to understand and respond to those challenges.

Contemporary issues about crime and justice in local, international and global contexts present challenges for criminology, criminal justice, citizens, politicians, practitioners and policy makers.

Building on a distinguished history of criminological research in the School of Law, the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice programme fosters critical thinking and analysis about those contemporary challenges, making connections with broader social and political concerns and responses. You will be taught by and engage with our academic staff whose work is both theoretical and empirical and makes a difference to the world both locally and globally.

On the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice programme, you will be part of our active community of researchers, international scholars and local practitioners, providing you with a critical understanding of criminological theories and literature concerned with crime, criminal justice and crime control and encouraging real world insight about issues of policy and practice.

  • The programme will help prepare you for a range of careers including doctoral and other academic research, policy and government work, private and third sector organisations and institutions concerned with crime and justice, crime prevention, public and community safety.
  • A key strength of our programme is the diversity of our students, providing opportunities to engage in critical discussion and debate on issues in crime and criminal justice which are increasingly transnational in orientation. Reflecting the strong, interdisciplinary nature of criminology at Edinburgh Law School, we welcome students from a broad range of intellectual backgrounds.
  • As well as providing a comprehensive training in criminology, criminal justice and criminological research methods, you will also have the chance to undertake a small research project in collaboration with local practitioners such as the police, prosecutors, third sector organisations working in criminal justice and the Scottish Government. The research you carry out will be fed back to the organisation you work with, giving you the chance to make a difference, gain valuable experience and lay the foundations for future research or employment.
  • The programme provides an opportunity for professional development for criminal justice practitioners such as lawyers, social workers, prison governors and officers.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) track is designed for any student intending to apply to the ESRC studentship. This fully-funded studentship can be used to cover fees and a living allowance for a one year MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, including research training, plus three years of PhD study.

The ESRC track is also for those who are considering going directly onto a PhD after completing the MSc who think they might apply for an ESRC-funded PhD.

The aim of the programme is to provide comprehensive training in criminology, criminal justice, and the extensive training in social science research methods required by the ESRC. It offers an excellent foundation for those interested in undertaking subsequent doctoral research and those who work (or intend to work) in the criminal justice system or related areas.

Find out more about the ESRC studentship

Students talk about their experiences of studying the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice on this video playlist.

Criminology at Edinburgh Law School has a strong interdisciplinary and outward focus. This provides an exciting environment in which to develop both new and existing interests.

On the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice Programme you will benefit from the expertise and diverse research interests of our criminology team, all of whom are active and engaged researchers and whose teaching and research has real-world impact. This is an ideal environment in which to foster your interests and develop your talent.

Current research interests of our academic staff include:

  • Penal politics
  • Youth crime and juvenile justice
  • Crime inequalities
  • Violence
  • Crime trends and patterns
  • Policing
  • Sentencing
  • Cybercrime, security and surveillance
  • Global, transnational and comparative criminology

Academic staff have collaborative networks with scholars both in the UK and abroad and strong connections with criminal justice practitioners.

Find out more about Criminology research at Edinburgh Law School

As a student on the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice you will have numerous opportunities during your studies to attend external events and lectures delivered by leading speakers and commentators. The Edinburgh Centre for Law and Society holds a regular seminar series during the semester, with visiting speakers and academics from Edinburgh Law School. You are also warmly invited to attend the vast range of seminars and events run by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.

Professor David Garland, broadly considered one of the world’s leading sociologists of crime and punishment will visit the Law School for two weeks (dates will be confirmed each semester) when he will host a series of workshops on crime and social theory which are free and available to all our Postgraduate students. In these workshops you will have the opportunity to work closely with Professor Garland. (Please note that the seminar series is not core to the programme).

Contact us

If you have any questions about the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

This programme can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years (due to current UKVI regulations, the part-time programme is only available to UK and EU students). It offers a range of subjects across the fields of criminology, criminal justice, law and social sciences, allowing you to tailor a interdisciplinary programme to suit your interests.

The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. 

Full programme details are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View full programme and course information the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice

View full programme and course information for the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (ESRC track)

Courses shown below are scheduled to run in the 2019/20 academic year.

You must take these courses:

  • Criminological Research Methods (40 credits, full-year course)

    This course will equip you with knowledge of principles of research design and key methodological approaches towards the collection, analysis and presentation of research findings. It explicitly emphasises the key roles of theory in research and issues of politics, power, ethics and reflexivity that are so crucial to the research process. Seminars form the backbone of the course through which different research methods will be critically examined. Some of these seminars will require you to take the lead and present your emerging ideas on research to peers, invited criminal justice practitioners and academic staff.
    The course is an essential element of academic research training. Even if you do not wish to undertake further research it will equip you with the knowledge and experience to evaluate the research of others. If you do wish to undertake further research (whether in external organisations or as a PhD) the course will equip you with the kinds of knowledge, skills and experience to better undertake that work. The practical nature of the course also ensures that, regardless of your future professional aspirations, the course will be of value to you and to your personal and professional development.

  • Theoretical Criminology (20 credits)

    The aim of this course is to assist you in thinking theoretically about crime, criminal justice and social control, focusing in particular on the articulation between theoretical constructs, research strategies and claims to knowledge. We thus seek to provide clarification of the ways in which the theoretical resources of the social sciences can be brought to bear upon the phenomena of crime and criminality, their occurrence and distribution, and their contested character.
    This course is particularly suitable if you are interested in learning more about the causes of crime and why societies (including the public, politicians and the media) respond to crime the way they do.

You must take 20 credits of the following courses:

  • Criminal Justice and Penal Process (20 credits)

    This course aims to provide you with critical insight of the institutions of criminal justice and to introduce some of the relevant policy frameworks, dilemmas and debates. The jurisdictions of Scotland and England and Wales will serve as the primary model for discussions, but an international, comparative approach is considered throughout. The course also has the aim of providing opportunities for you to practice the research skills necessary to explore and critically assess academic and policy research which informs current criminal justice approaches. You will have the opportunity to observe criminal courts in action and to carry out their own observations on criminal justice processes. By the end of this course you should be able to describe the conceptual functioning of criminal justice and penal institutions; critically analyse these institutions and explain the rationale of key developments in policy and practice.

    or

  • Global Crime and Insecurity (20 credits)

    The focus of the course is the definition, explanation and interpretation of global forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. This is tackled in a structure which examines issues of categorisation and definition first, before exploring a range of contexts in which crime and criminality may be researched, then examining particular forms of crime and finishing with questions of measurement and interpretation.
    The course focus is on policy and legal responses to international and global forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. This is tackled in a structure which examines issues a range of different policing, judicial and regulatory frameworks, with attention paid in each of these sessions to the underlying logic of the approach. Following this, various mechanisms through and contexts in which criminal justice policy might spread are examined. The course finishes with a case study of money laundering, but depending on the availability of staff, this could be replaced with any substantive crime issue which allows students the opportunity to draw together a number of the issues raised in earlier sessions.

You must take 40 credits of the following courses:

  • Current Issues in Criminal Law (20 credits)

    This course examines current issues, debates and trends in criminal law. It introduces important developments in criminal law and the criminal process; to the controversies and debates surrounding these developments; and to the broader changes that they represent in the criminal justice field. The course begins by exploring questions of criminalisation: the changing scope of the criminal law, and debates over what conduct should and should not be made criminal. It then turns to examine developments in the law relating to criminal procedure and evidence; and finally to sentencing and other consequences of criminal conviction. The precise content of the course will change year on year, in response to new developments. However, at least some topics from each of these areas will be covered in any given academic year.

  • Mental Health and Crime (20 credits)

    The aim of this course is to examine the relationship between mental health and crime and explore issues relating to the appropriate treatment of mentally disordered offenders in the criminal justice system. Different forms of mental disorder will be analysed (including psychotic illnesses, personality disorders and the mental health problems associated with substance misuse) and their links to crime evaluated.
    Key objectives are also: to trace the history and development of mental health law; to explore the nature of criminal justice and other disposals for mentally disordered offenders (comparing Scotland with England/Wales); and to assess the nature and limits of offender profiling.
    A visit will be arranged to a medium secure unit located in Edinburgh, where you will meet staff and patients and gain an insight into clinical practice and the day-to-day running of a medium secure institution. The course will conclude with a mock trial in which students will act as prosecution, defence agents and jury and staff as judge, defender and expert witnesses.

  • Prisons and Places of Confinement (20 credits)

    This course addresses the uses of imprisonment, and related forms of confinement, in modern societies. It introduces students to "classic texts" in the history and sociology of prisons and "total institutions", before turning towards a range of contemporary problems and policy dilemmas, such as the phenomenon of "mass incarceration", the role of international standards and litigation and variations in incarceration around the world. It concludes by raising questions concerning possibilities for penal change, including innovative, experimental and alternative developments, and the prospects for supporting change and desistance in planned environments. It thus enables you to participate in an informed and critical manner in debates on the futures of the prison and its role in human societies.

  • Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity (20 credits)

    The focus of the course is on legal, political and policy responses to international and transnational forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. The course is delivered in two sections focusing first on transnational forms of organised crime and secondly on atrocity crime (broadly, those defined by international criminal law). A final session looks for contrasts and connections between these two parts.

  • Sexual Offending and the Law (20 credits)

    This course will examine contemporary approaches to the law of sexual offences in comparative perspective. Topics to be covered will include the definition of rape, the age of consent, the proper extent of criminalisation of consensual sexual conduct, evidential issues in the proof of sexual offences. The closing seminars of the course will bring these issues together by examining how law reform bodies in a variety of different jurisdictions have addressed the challenges they pose.

You may also have the opportunity to study the following courses from outside of the Law School as part of the 40 credit points of courses from this group. These include:

  • Comparative Analysis of Social and Public Policy
  • Contemporary Social Theory
  • Gender and Development
  • Research Problems in Drugs and Crime Online.

Full programme details, including core and optional courses is available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View full programme and course information for the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice Degree

Students on the ESRC track must take and pass all of the compulsory courses listed below:

  • Core Quantitative Data Analysis 1 and 2 (20 credits)

    The course introduces key statistical ideas and methods for social and political research. It is designed for students who have little or no previous experience or knowledge of statistics, or even a phobia for numbers, or for those who feel they need a refresher course on the subject. The emphasis is on learning and understanding by doing, using 'real' data, rather than memorising formulae or rules of procedure. Each on-line learning module is supplemented by self-tests and activities to give students practice in the exploration and analysis of quantitative data using the SPSS software package, copies of which may also be provided free of charge to students for use on their own personal computers. In line with ESRC postgraduate research training guidelines, the aim of the course is to ensure that students are able to understand and use basic quantitative methods.

  • Research Skills in the Social Sciences: Data Collection (20 credits)

    Data Collection is concerned with the techniques and practices of doing empirical research. This course teaches professional competence in gathering information by talking to people, collecting documents, conducting surveys and observing social interaction. We cover a range of associated issues, including identifying and using different sources; recruiting and negotiating access to research respondents; formulating questions and managing interviews and focus groups; sampling populations and designing surveys; recording observations; research ethics, and analysing qualitative data.

  • Research Design (20 credits)

    The course provides an introduction to the main issues involved in designing social science research, and is intended for students from a wide range of social science disciplines. Research design calls for decisions about how the research should be carried out, about what kind of data should be collected and analysed, and about how inferences should be drawn if the aims of the research are to be realised. The researcher has to be able to demonstrate that conclusions drawn from the research are robust and well-grounded epistemologically and theoretically. The course does not provide training in research methods, or an exhaustive checklist of points that need to be considered when designing a research project. It concentrates instead on the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of research design as they relate to the aims, objectives and theoretical underpinnings of any piece of research.

  • Theoretical Criminology (20 credits)

    The aim of this course is to assist you in thinking theoretically about crime, criminal justice and social control, focusing in particular on the articulation between theoretical constructs, research strategies and claims to knowledge. We thus seek to provide clarification of the ways in which the theoretical resources of the social sciences can be brought to bear upon the phenomena of crime and criminality, their occurrence and distribution, and their contested character.
    This course is particularly suitable if you are interested in learning more about the causes of crime and why societies (including the public, politicians and the media) respond to crime the way they do.

Additionally, you must choose a further two courses (40 credits) from the options available (please note that not all of the courses listed below will necessarily be available each year; however, please also note that additional course choices may be available).

  • Mental Health and Crime (20 credits)
  • Prisons and Places of Confinement (20 credits)
  • Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity (20 credits)

You will also be required to audit Criminological Research Methods.

After successfully completing 120 credits of course you will progress onto the dissertation phase (60 credits) of the MSc.

Having successfully completed 120 credit points of courses within the LLM, you will be ready to move onto a single piece of independent and in-depth research. The 10,000 word dissertation allows you to focus on a preferred topic from within the field of criminology and criminal justice, normally based on a subject you have studied in one of your courses during programme.

You will be assigned an academic dissertation supervisor who will provide you with support and guidance while you prepare and write your dissertation.

The dissertation is a challenging but rewarding endeavour, asking you to demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the relevant literature and an ability to engage critically with a range of sources, drawing on the skills and knowledge you have developed during the course of the programme. Students are encouraged to show originality and evidence of independent thinking, whether in terms of the material used, or the manner in which it is presented.

The dissertation is written in the summer months (April to August) after the taught courses are successfully completed.

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances or lack of demand for particular courses, we may not be able to run all courses as advertised come the start of the academic year.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

The MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice degree draws on the substantial expertise and knowledge of members of academic staff.

All members of staff teaching on both the core and optional courses are experts in their field and carry out leading research in various areas of criminology and criminal justice.

Dr Fiona Jamieson is Senior Teaching Fellow in Criminology and Director of the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice degree programme. Her main research interests lie in sentencing and penal decision-making, punishment, judicial culture and narrative research methods.

Prior to joining the School of Law, Fiona gained substantial knowledge of criminal justice law, policy and practice through her former legal career as a prosecutor in Scotland. Fiona is a member of the Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making Working Group of the European Society of Criminology. Fiona is a member of the Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making Working Group of the European Society of Criminology and also of MESAS (Monitoring and Evaluation of Scotland's Alcohol Strategy) Governance Board (Scottish Government/NHS) Evaluation Advisory Group (EAG)for the Impact of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on Crime and Antisocial behaviour (Scottish Government/NHS).

Find out more

Richard Sparks is Professor of Criminology at the University of Edinburgh.  From 2014-17 he was Head of the School of Law and from 2006-16 was also a founding Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.

Find out more about the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

Richard's main research interests lie in the relationships between penal policies and democratic politics; the sociology of punishment (especially imprisonment); public responses to crime and punishment; and the uses, abuses and non-uses of criminological knowledge in shaping public policy on crime and punishment.  He is a member of the editorial boards of several journals including Punishment & Society, of which he was editor-in-chief 2000-2004. 

Find out more

Alistair Henry is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and an Associate Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, where he leads the Police Community Relations Network. His main research interests currently lie in the field of policing. In particular, he is actively interested in issues of governance and accountability, local and community policing, crime prevention and community safety, and partnership working between the police, other criminal justice organisations and local government.

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Richard Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. He has published on topics including the electronic monitoring ('tagging') of offenders, access control, border controls, computer crime, penal populism, the media, airport security, the use of force in policing, and surveillance theory. His current research centres on security, surveillance, the sociology of punishment, theoretical criminology, cyber security and cybercrime.

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Gemma Flynn is a Teaching Fellow in Criminology. She completed a PhD in the School of Law on the topic ‘Understanding the Impact of Legal and Political Structures on Fear of Crime and resulting Criminal Justice Policies.’ Her research interests include crime and social media, penal politics and gender and justice. Gemma recently presented a paper entitled ‘Punishment and Social Media: New Rituals in Crime Construction’ for the Centre for Law and Society Seminar Series in the Law School.

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Anna Souhami is Head of the Criminology Subject Area and Associate Director of the Scottish Centre of Crime and Justice Research.

Her research focuses on the culture and identity of criminal justice work, in particular in relation to policing, youth justice and policy making, and she specialises in ethnographic methodologies. Her current research is an ethnography of policing and social control in the remote Northern islands of Scotland.

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David Garland, broadly considered one of the world’s leading sociologists of crime and punishment, is professorial fellow in Criminology at Edinburgh Law School and Arthur T. Vanderbilt Professor of Law and professor of sociology at New York University. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1977 with a first-class honours degree in law and a PhD in Socio-Legal Studies in 1984. In 1978 he earned a masters degree in criminology from the University of Sheffield.

Professor Garland will visit the Law School in the 2018/19 academic year for two weeks (dates to be confirmed) during which time he will host a series of short seminars which are free and available to all our MSc and Postgraduate students. Please note that the seminar series is not core to the programme.

Academic staff listed above are subject to change for the 2019/20 academic year. Staff listed as on sabbatical will not be available to teach for the duration of their sabbatical.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

Our MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice degree is designed to suit both students who are new to the subject as well as those who have studied it at undergraduate level. We welcome applications from graduates of a diverse range of subjects including law, sociology, criminology, psychology, social sciences as well as science and arts subjects.

We require a minimum UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent. Entry to this programme is competitive and meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Check your degree

Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.

Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We also accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

The University runs a series of programmes for English Language Education, including a pre-sessional English Language Programme intended to strengthen your English Language skills before you start your programme of study.

Find out more about English language support offered by the University

Contact us

If you have any questions about our entry requirements please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the University's Edinburgh Global) and/or to apply for University accommodation.

Apply now for September 2019 entry

The deadline for applying to the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice is 31 July 2019.

We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle and we monitor application numbers carefully to ensure we are able to accommodate all those who receive offers. It may therefore be necessary to close a programme earlier than the published deadline and if this is the case we will place a four-week warning notice on the relevant programme page.

ESRC track

Applications to the ESRC track are closed.

Applicants must have applied for admission with us by 3rd December 2018 and also have made a funding application to Gradhub before noon 11th January 2019.

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study).
  • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University's applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University's guidance for unsuccessful applicants

You can find full and detailed application guidance on the University's website.

Find out more about applying to the University of Edinburgh

The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

University of Edinburgh admissions terms and conditions

Contact us

If you have any questions about applying to the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk