Criminology - BA (Hons)

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
UCAS Code:
Part-time: apply direct to the University
BA (Hons)
  • Full Time (3 years)
  • Part Time (5 years)
School of Social Sciences
City Centre (from 2015)

Offering you a choice of specialist routes, as well as the chance to gain invaluable experience through regular voluntary work, this course offers an in-depth study of crime, punishment and victimisation. With its close relationship to key areas of social science, it offers complete relevance and the practical skills you need to approach a professional career with confidence.

This course aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the core schools of criminological thought, their history, contemporary relevance and application. The curriculum offers a varied, yet focused, choice of subjects through which students will be able to develop their interests within the specialised field of criminology and related social science disciplines.

The overall approach of the degree is to develop critical appreciation of the relationship between the individual and social aspects of crime and victimisation. The course will utilise a variety of teaching and learning techniques in order to develop a range of transferable academic and practical skills, which will be attractive to employers in the public and private sectors.

We are one of the first modern universities to recognise the academic importance of criminal justice, our courses have been respected for their rigour and practical application since the 1980s.

What's covered in the course?

  • Your first year introduces you to criminology, security studies, policing and investigation, allowing you to explore various aspects before finding the route that suits your future aims.
  • Choosing this pathway means you study a general course of criminology, choosing the modules to carve your own path through the degree.
  • Modules include: Criminological Theory, Penal Theory, Crime, Media and Culture and Criminological Research. The third year looks at areas such as Theories of Rights, Crime Prevention, Gender and Crime, and Transnational, Corporate and Organised Crime.
  • The module Working in Criminal Justice brings real life to your studies, giving you the chance to reflect on regular voluntary work.

“I was involved with the Student Academic Mentoring Project which is a valuable tool for students at the University and have ended up in paid employment as part of my participation of this scheme, which saw me gain employment as the Criminology Department’s Mentoring Project Supervisor.”
Leonie Folan

Why Choose Us?

  • After a first-year look at the subject and its related areas, you confirm or change your original choice of degree to suit your future aims.
  • The course has a focus on employability and demonstrates a commitment to encouraging students to volunteer by arranging opportunities for students to meet with relevant agencies.
  • The University has a pioneering reputation for education in policing, criminal justice and criminology, with over two decades’ experience of offering rigorous, academic and applied courses.
  • You have the chance to gain a practical insight into criminal justice processes through visits.
  • The course’s professional relevance is supported by our close links with local criminal justice agencies, including police forces and community safety partnerships in the region.
  • Our ‘Centre for Applied Criminology’ is led by Professor David Wilson, one of the UK’s leading criminologists.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

Typical UK QualificationRequirements 2015/16

A minimum of 4 GCSEs, or equivalent, at grade C or above, at the point of application. These must include English Language or English Literature. BTEC First Diplomas, BTEC Level 2 Extended Certificates and OCR Nationals are accepted together with English. We will accept Key Skills Communications Level 2 / Functional Skills Level 2. However Adult Numeracy and Adult Literacy are NOT accepted.

GCE A Level/ AS Level 280 UCAS Tariff points from a maximum of 4 subjects (minimum of 2 at A2 Level or equivalent), excluding General Studies. Remaining points can be made up with a maximum of 2 AS Levels in different subjects. Preference will be given to students who have taken humanities or social science based A Levels. This includes at least one of the following subjects at A2: English, Government and Politics, History, Humanities, Law, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies and Sociology. Citizenship and Critical Thinking will be considered.
Access to Higher Education Diploma 60 credits including 45 at Level 3, of which 18 Level 3 credits are at merit / distinction on a Social Sciences/Humanities pathway (Criminology / Politics / Sociology / Psychology / Social Policy). If you do not hold GCSE English at grade C or above, then credits must also include English at Level 2.
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points.
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 280 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points.
International Baccalaureate Diploma 26 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 280 points including 4 Higher Level passes. Points will be taken from a maximum of 4 subjects.
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 280 points from a maximum of 4 subjects
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) 120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points.

If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.

Unconditional Offers 2015/16

If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for the 2015/16 year, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.
To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:

  • 280 tariff points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBC or above)
  • or
  • be predicted DMM profile at BTEC level

Learn more about unconditional offers >>

Typical EU/Non-EU (International) QualificationsRequirements 2015/16
IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.0 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 26 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.

Advanced Diplomas and Progression Diplomas are accepted as all or part of the required tariff points.

Entry at an advanced stage of the course with credit to prior learning or experience may be considered on an individual basis.

How to Apply

Full Time

Apply through UCAS.
UCAS Code: M900.
Apply via UCAS

Non-EU (International) students:. There are three ways for international students to apply: direct to the University, through a country representative or through UCAS. Please read our guidance on how to apply.

Part Time
Online application for UK or EU students
Sep 2015 BA (Hons) Part Time (5 years)

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

UCAS Information

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 3 years BA (Hons) £9,000 per year
Sep 2015 PT 5 years BA (Hons) TBC
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 3 years BA (Hons) £11,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

Any educational visits undertaken as part of the course will be at your expense. Approximately £250 in books (purchasing essential reading for the course). You may wish to undertake additional volunteering courses, run in partnership with NewBridge at a discounted rate of approximately £75.00.

Financial Options and Advice

We have deliberately tried to set fees that reflect the cost of course delivery in order to help our students avoid debt.

Full-time students won't have to pay for tuition fees until after their studies - there are government tuition fee loans available. If you are a full-time student, after leaving university you will start to pay back your loan once you are earning over £21,000 a year, at a rate of nine per cent on any income above £21,000. So if you were earning £25,000, you would pay back nine per cent of £4,000, or £30 per month.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis offers key facts on fees, loans and grants:

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

These courses are suitable if you wish to embark on a criminal justice-related career, including jobs in the Police, Revenue and Customs, probation, youth justice, community safety and the Prison Service as well as the voluntary sector. They are also suitable for serving police officers and civilian support staff, customs officers, prison officers and those working in the Immigration and Nationality service.

Part-time study in Criminology is often followed by people who are already employed within the CJS and who are intending to improve their career prospects.

Applied Social Science degrees also develop transferable skills such as analysis and decision making, commercial awareness, accessing information, problem solving, and cultural and political awareness. These skills are appropriate to a range of careers from teaching to retail management.

Professional Development

We are the only university in the country to hold an annual debate at high security prison HMP Grendon, in Buckinghamshire. This unique opportunity offers criminology students the chance to gain an exceptional insight into how criminological theory and practice combine, through direct interaction with inmates.

Further Studies

Options for further study at the University include:

  • MA Criminology

Qualified candidates may apply for MPhil or PhD research degrees. Details can be found on the postgraduate section of the website.

Full Time

About KIS data

From September 2012, all universities and colleges are publishing standardised information for all undergraduate courses in the form of a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS data is designed to meet the needs of prospective students and allow for informed decision-making when choosing a university course.

Putting our students first

We pride ourselves on our student satisfaction levels which have risen from 73 per cent to 83 per cent between 2010 and 2012. Our dedication to improving the student experience is illustrated by our award-winning student engagement, our close links with business and industry and our £180 million investment in new facilities.

Employability facts

87.3% of leavers from the School of Social Sciences who responded to our survey went into either employment and/or further study. The average full-time salary was £18,400. The principal industrial sectors employing leavers from the School were public administration and defence, and compulsory social security, with employers including Birmingham City Council and Sandwell Homes, in positions such as Family Support Worker and Antisocial Behaviour Officer.

Working with your Students’ Union

Improving student satisfaction is a priority commitment shared by both Birmingham City University and its Students’ Union. In its strategic planning, the Union has pledged to be more accessible, more relevant and provide more opportunity to engage with a diverse student community.

The Students’ Union is already a key stakeholder in supporting an excellent teaching experience at Birmingham City University, through joint projects such as the Extra Mile Teaching Awards and the Student Rep scheme, which allows students to share their ideas on how they are taught.

As Birmingham City University moves towards a two campus strategy where it can better support enhanced learning and student support facilities across a two-mile radius, the Students’ Union will also be better able to implement its commitment to improve communication and engage with its valued student membership.

Course Structure

From organised crime, terrorism and corporate crime through to local infringements of the law, crime is constantly in the public eye. Concerns for public safety, increases in identity theft, fraud and a need for national and international cooperation in tackling crime have made the study of criminology a popular choice.

Your role as a criminologist is to study the relationship between law breaking and the social conditions within which laws are constructed and crimes take place. This means that you will not only need knowledge of the law and of criminal justices processes at the local level but also in a global context.

You will become familiar with the different theories, individual and social, through which crime has been explained. The work of a criminologist involves a questioning mind and the ability to challenge common sense notions of 'who' are the 'most likely' criminals. This involves understanding of social divisions in society, such as gender and ethnicity.

Guest speakers have included Sir Peter Lloyd, TV presenters Jon Silverman and Visiting Professor Donal McIntyre, and ex-offenders such as Noel 'Razor' Smith, Allan Weaver, Trevor Hercules and Norman Parker, as well as serving prison governors and police officers.

As a criminologist you could be working for or with a law enforcement agency, the CJS or a government agency or a non-governmental organisation.

Many criminologists specialise in certain fields of work; for instance, you might focus on a specific age group, a specific type of crime, crime prevention, the process of crime scene investigation, the process of criminal litigation or the process of criminal corrections.

Current students are working in areas including the Special Constabulary, prison visiting, drug treatment schemes, victim support and bail/youth hostels for young offenders

To be a good criminologist you should be able to demonstrate responsibility, creativity, analytical thinking and problem-solving. You will also need to be interested in people and their behaviour.

Criminology focuses your study on explanations of crime, responses to crime and the relationships of power within which these are produced. As part of the family of social sciences you will draw from expertise in disciplines such as sociology, politics, psychology and law.

You will look for answers to questions such as why people commit crime, how society responds to crime and how agencies like the police, the probation service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prevent and investigate crime.

This course is aimed at anyone who is working, or wants to pursue a career within the socio-legal field of work. This ranges from probation to the community and voluntary sectors as well as social work and the legal system. Emphasis is placed upon putting theory into practice, equipping you with the skills and abilities to prepare you for your professional career.

Course Modules

On BA (Hons) Criminology, you will study a mix of core and optional modules. You may select your optional modules to suit your particular interests from any of the other criminology degree programmes offered.

All the courses share this common first year. So - regardless of which specific course you apply for - your first year will be the same. This approach means that you have the chance to taste different areas of the subject before finally committing to a specific degree choice at the end of year one.

Year 1
  • Introduction to Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Security Studies
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Policing and Investigation
  • Social Construction of 'Deviance' and Social Control.
Year 2

Examples of Level Five/Second Year Modules are:

  • Prisons and Punishment
  • Criminological Research
  • Criminal and Forensic Psychology
  • Addiction and Criminality
  • Crime, Media and Culture.
Year 3

Examples of Level Six/Third Year Modules are:

  • Theories of Rights
  • Crime Prevention
  • Transnational Corporate and Organised Crime
  • Gender and Crime
  • Prison and the Therapeutic Community
  • Serial Killers and the Phenomenon of Serial Murder
  • Hate Crime.


You will have the opportunity to gain a practical insight into work that relates to criminal justice processes through visits.

You are encouraged to take an active interest in the work of various agencies that relate to the study of crime. The module 'Working in Criminal Justice', which is an option in year three, gives you the opportunity to reflect on regular voluntary work, allowing you to gain valuable experience that relates to you studies.

Current students are working in a number of areas including the Special Constabulary, prison visiting, drug treatment schemes, victim support and bail/youth hotels for young offenders.

Assessment Methods

Assessment is through a variety of methods including coursework, presentations and examinations with the option of completing an extended research project or a reflective project based upon an area of volunteer work in the criminal justice system in the final stage.

All assessments will require you to use your communication and research skills to solve problems.

David WilsonSerial Thriller: Professor David Wilson Talks Psychopaths on Channel 5 series

Read more on Killer Psychopaths on David's Blog 

Leonie Folan

I heard about Birmingham City University through Birmingham Metropolitan College where I did an Access to Social Science course, as the School of Social Sciences is advertised well there. I attended two open days at the University and this is where I came into contact with Professor David Wilson, a high profile Criminologist who specialises in the study of serial killers. He has written many books of interest to me and regularly appears in the media, sharing his opinions on criminal behaviour with the public.

The University is very reputable in the field of Criminology. The Criminology degree has a lot of varied modules, spreading over subjects such as sociology, psychology, security studies and policing modules. Examples of modules open to students were Abnormal Psychology, Intelligence and Security, Core Issues in Crime and Punishment and Introduction to Policing.

I was able to gain specialist knowledge of all areas of criminal justice and behaviour. I was involved with the Student Academic Mentoring Project which is a valuable tool for students at the University and have ended up in paid employment as part of my participation of this scheme, which saw me gain employment as the Criminology Department’s Mentoring Project Supervisor. I have received a Dean’s Award two years running for my contribution to the mentoring project.

I am currently working on The Priority and Prolific Offenders Scheme (PPO Scheme) which is available to students who choose to take the third year Working in Criminal Justice module. A learning diary is kept by students throughout the year and the assessment consists of a final report about the experience. This student placement is arranged by a former Criminology Master’s student from the University. I have worked part-time alongside my studies and since finishing my studies I have increased my hours. I am gaining valuable experience in multi-agency working which is something the government are increasingly investing in in terms of offender management and rehabilitation.

The staff are very supportive and most students find one or two members of staff they feel most comfortable with and go to them as first port of call. The student liaison officer is always available for any advice and information. Once the employment with the PPO Scheme ends, I hope to continue working in offender rehabilitation, most likely with a third sector organisation.

The shortage of public sector jobs seems to have encouraged third sector organisations to expand and I believe there are more doors opening than closing. Thanks to the variation of the Criminology degree there is a wide range of services that could benefit from my expertise. My plan for the next six to twelve months is to go into full time employment and gain experience of managing my own caseloads.

I plan to have a long and successful career in criminal justice and eventually I would like to come back to the University to enrol on a Master’s degree. I would say to any other students to take a positive approach to your studies, give it 100 per cent and enjoy it while it lasts. The feeling of achievement that comes with the completion of your degree is unique, special, and something you can be proud of for life!

Matthew Popo

I took a gap year after college as I decided that I needed time to focus on what was important and in what direction I wanted to take my life; as unfortunate as it was that my friend had gone to prison, I quickly realised that it could have easily been me or any one of my peers. I found myself a full-time job and began to search and strive towards a life of fulfilment.

While I knew that I wanted to study I was still unsure about what course I wanted to undertake. It wasn’t until I looked back on my own life and observed the life of my peers that I realised the most substantial problem within young people within the inner city was crime. I chose to enter university and study Criminology, to further study recognised theories into why young people fell into certain groups and how they can move away from crime and deviant lifestyles through education and getting the right help and advice.

My initial plan when starting university was to simply arrive at my lectures and seminars, get my education and then leave; at no point was I interested in socialising or take part in any other activities. However, as my education progressed, university also taught me lessons outside of the lecture theatre – I began to meet new people, explore new cultures and simply allow myself to learn from those I would have most likely never has spoken to away from university.

Within my university experience I have also been given some priceless opportunities, including a work placement with the Young Offenders Service where my role was to work on what’s known as “Youth Offender Panel Work”. This programme allows young offenders to sit and talk about their crimes with criminal justice workers and even the victims of the crimes they have committed. This is a chance for young offenders to confront and take responsibility for their actions, apologise for their behaviour and suggest why they committed their crime, which allows them to avoid simply being sent to prison. This was the first year that the University had run the scheme and I believe it to be a brilliant addition to the course.

I also took part in a life-changing outing to HMP Grendon as part of a student/prisoner debate. This experience was especially memorable for me as, firstly I took part in the debate itself and secondly, as a result of my performance, I was then recruited to take part in a prison management scheme by the General Manager of the National Offender Management Service for the South East/West of England. The management schemes offered will officially train me to one day become a prison governor. Becoming a prison governor wasn’t something I had previously considered as I am not the strongest advocate of how the Prison Service is run at present, with too much emphasis on incarceration and not enough on rehabilitation, but I realised that the best way to change the system was from the inside, putting ideas into practice which, if successful, could then be used in other prisons.

My active educational life has led to me being positively active in my social life. I stand strong in the belief of giving back to the community, young people in particular, as they will be the adults of tomorrow. I have recently begun coaching an under-12s football team with a local charity club named Continental Stars. Continental Stars focuses on providing young males and females from the ages of 10 and upwards, with not only the skills to make them better footballers, but also life skills, while providing positive role models through the use of sport.

I have also been working with young people in schools for the past seven months using seminars/workshops I created that promote confidence, self esteem and purpose.

I came to university as a young male seeking further education and I am leaving as a young man that has not only succeeded and completed his degree but also a young man that now has the world at his feet. I will use my degree to help people, young people in particular and simply be an example to many that with hard work and determination all things are possible. I will continually encourage young people to gain an education, not just for the qualification but also for the life lessons that it will offer you along the way.

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. It’s no surprise that the Complete University Guide placed us in the UK top 10 for spending on facilities in both 2012 and 2013.

Moving to the City Centre Campus

In September 2015 all business, English, law and social sciences courses will move to our City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building. The £63m building will offer students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.

What do our students think?

"It's shaping out to be a great futuristic building."

English student Isaac had a sneak peek of the Curzon building.

Read Isaac's blog >>

Gallery - Curzon Building preview Atrium
Gallery - Curzon Building - library 1
Gallery - Curzon Building preview cafe 1
Gallery - Curzon Building preview cafe 2
Gallery - Curzon building preview lecture theatre
Gallery - Curzon Building preview boardroom
Gallery - Curzon Building preview - library upper
Gallery - Curzon Building preview library 2

Read more about the City Centre Campus


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


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