Criminology - MA

Full Time, Part Time
September 2019
£8,100 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)

Our MA Criminology course has been designed for both recent graduates and practitioners who wish to develop their understanding of the debates surrounding crime and the criminal justice system. It offers an exciting opportunity to study both theoretical criminology and the more applied aspects of criminology and criminal justice issues.

The course has three formal stages:

  • The Diploma stages consist of three taught modules, a proposal module that is delivered through work groups and a practice-based module involving reflection upon work or volunteering experience.
  • Those proceeding to the Master's stage will be required to complete an extended project to be determined individually.
  • It is possible to complete your studies at any of the Certificate, Diploma or Master's stages.

Full-time students will complete all these stages in one year. Part-time students would normally complete the diploma and masters stages over two years. 

What's covered in the course?

During study, you are asked to reflect upon your experience of crime and the criminal justice system, looking at significant factors involved in crime in contemporary society. These include globalisation, consumerism and political economy, as well as considering more psychological and theoretical drivers of harmful and criminal behaviour and the responses to crime.

Previous students have gone on to further postgraduate study, with a number of them now employed as academics at a range of other universities, teaching and researching in the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Other graduates from the course occupy both senior and management positions in statutory and non-statutory criminal justice organisations.

In order to provide an engaging and flexible educational experience to diverse range of students, the course utilises a wide range of learning and teaching methods and technologies. Given the small size of each group of students recruited, the postgraduate status of the programme and the experience which many of its recruits have had of the criminal justice system, the course is highly participative. While sessions will provide periods of structured teaching, they will also provide a forum, within which you will take responsibility for your own learning, and share your knowledge and views with other students and staff.

The precise nature of sessions and delivery will vary with the year, the cohort of students, and the general and specific experience possessed by individual students. The programme team also makes increasing use of the University’s virtual learning environment, Moodle, where teaching staff will upload lecture notes, web links, video programmes and extracts from academic sources. Moodle is also used for general announcements and communication with a group of students, many of whom are unlikely to be on campus every day.

The course has a strong link with research practice, and will help you develop and understand the principles and practice of research, as well as enabling you to form judgements on the relative merits of, and relationships between, different research tools and methods. You will also develop the capability to design, manage and disseminate a research project to a professional standard.

Why Choose Us?

  • The course has strong links with the University’s Centre for Applied Criminology, a leading research centre staffed by established criminologists. They are renowned for their international reputations, with their specialist areas including homicide, violence and organised crime.
  • We have a strong relationship with the British Society of Criminology. We are hosting the 2018 British Society of Criminology  Conference at our City Centre Campus.
  • You’ll have flexible study options, enabling you to focus on either an academic route or a more practice-based approach.
  • The course will help you develop and understand the principles and practice of research, and allow you to form judgements on different research tools.
  • The course team has valuable links with the regional criminal justice system and leading non-Government organisations, including therapeutic prison HMP Grendon, where the University holds an annual debate.
  • Birmingham City University has just launched the UK's first Centre for Brexit Studies, researching all aspects of the UK's vote to leave the EU, including the impact it has on hate crime and national security in the UK.

Criminology and Psychology PG Lunches 2018 (Course Page Image) - Woman addressing room

Psychology and Criminology Master’s Courses - drop-in sessions

Join us for lunch to find out more about our postgraduate Psychology and Criminology degrees, and how you can either continue your studies to the next level or become an expert in a new field.

This course is open to International students

Postgraduate Campus Tours

Can't make it to an Open Day? You could still have the opportunity to come and see what our Postgraduate courses have to offer. If you would like to enquire about Postgraduate ad-hoc tour availability, just drop us an email.

*DLHE Survey 2016/17

*The value-added score compares students’ individual degree results with their entry qualifications, to show how effective the teaching is. It is given as a rating out of 10
**The Guardian University League Table 2018

Entry Requirements

UK students

An second class degree from a UK University or international equivalent.

Exceptions will be made on a case by case basis should a student possess enough relevant professional experience.

EU / International students
English language requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
Other accepted qualifications Visit our English language page
International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year £8,100 per year
PT 2 years £900 per module

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year £12,300 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements


Additional costs

While there are no additional costs associated with purchasing text books, there may be other costs to you. If you are joining the course which has a professional body accreditation you may be required to pay membership or examination costs. For details of these costs, please click on the link below.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Financial Support

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

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

PG Certificate

Contemporary Criminological Thought
20 credits

The aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of the different theoretical approaches adopted within the discipline of Criminology.  Throughout the module students are reminded that Criminology is a “rendezvous subject”.  As a consequence, the history and development of criminological thinking has been subject to change over time, and continues to be pulled in different directions, with recurring tensions between “orthodox” and more “critical” approaches to offending. However, the module specifically will consider more contemporary and recent developments in criminological thinking and theorising, taking as its focus contemporary theoretical debates that are encountered in contemporary criminology.

Research Methods
20 credits

This module is designed to enable you to develop an understanding of the research process and the nature and variety of research methods together with the need for an evidence base to guide decision making process.  Its characteristic features are to encourage you to see qualitative and quantitative methods as equally valuable and often complementary and to involve students, wherever possible, in using and applying the methods rather than merely talking about them.

Researching Crime and Security
20 credits

This module builds upon the basic practical research skills acquired in the ‘Research Methods’ module and critically considers central areas of contemporary Crime and Security research.  In order to do this, you are expected to be involved in individual and collective learning opportunities provided in the module and then work both individually and collaboratively to deliver a research tender.  Correspondingly, this module mimics the ‘real world’ processes that are significant and useful in both statutory and non-governmental employment where a significant proportion of both time and turnover is often given to managing strategic tenders and undertaking detailed research.

PG Diploma

Prisons and Punishment: Local and Global
20 credits

This module is designed to develop your understanding of the emergence and development of key theories of punishment through an exploration of the history of penal theory and its contemporary challenges and controversies both in the context of England and Wales and the United Kingdom, and in other nations overseas.  Furthermore, this module seeks to refine and expand upon traditional theoretical perspectives of punishment and the current reliance upon imprisonment as a dominant form of punishment globally, charting the growth of the Prison historically, and its current place in the social order.  

Crime Online and Public Criminology
20 credits

The module provides you with an understanding of the contested cultural meanings underpinning crime, specifically with regard to mediated and ‘public’ representations of crime encountered in both online and offline mediated settings. Taking as its theoretical foundations debates concerning public and cultural criminology, the module seeks to offer you a comprehensive and contemporary platform for studying, crime, victimisation and its control.

Please note that the below option modules are subject to staff and student numbers, and are therefore subject to change.

Option Module
20 credits

Security in the Digital Age

This module will examine the intersection between digital technology and security in the contemporary era bringing together a range of topics and issues subsumed under the heading “cybersecurity”.  Innovation in the field of digital technology has enhanced how security is performed but has also created opportunity for security breaches and the eroding of international norms and civil liberties. The module offers a comprehensive overview of the capabilities of digital security and the improved operationalisation of security as well as considering how these developments can be exploited to pose potential insecurities of their own.  The module will examine a range of different debates including the security and insecurity brought on by innovation in the field of digital technologies and the tensions that exist between how security is performed and how we can begin to understand freedoms and liberties and how these may be affected by particular security agendas.

Terrorism, Political Violence and Extremism

This module will offer you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the sources, dynamics and consequences of contemporary political violence, and to consider the significance of terrorism and conflict within the broader realm of politics and international relations.  This module will examine and explore some conceptual, theoretical and methodological themes associated with contemporary conflict locating these themes within a historical survey of civil war, insurgency and armed political resistance. In addition, while the module will put a particular focus on the policy dimensions of counter-terrorism within the UK, the module will also cater to students who are interested in taking a conceptually ‘critical’ approach to the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism, exploring the methodological challenges inherent in this scholarship, and questioning the assumptions which underpin mainstream approaches.

Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence

This module utilises a range of theoretical frameworks and empirical case studies to examine a complex range of abusive behaviours, from coercive control to revenge pornography.  Moreover, the module provides you with a detailed and critical engagement with the many various theoretical aspects of domestic and sexual abuse, focusing in particular on issues of definition, nature, extent and the impact of this behaviour.  A mixture of different teaching and learning techniques are used on the module to assist you in understanding the process of identifying, assessing and managing both perpetrators and victims of both sexual and domestic (or intimate partner) violence. 

Homicide and Organised Violent Crime

This module provides you with an opportunity to critically engage with some of the key contemporary debates that surround the phenomenon of homicide and multiple homicide, as well as a range of separate and related forms of Organised Violent Crime.  You will be encouraged to investigate how various perspectives have generated their own arguments in an attempt to understand this unique form of offending. The module will make significant use of various case studies of serial murderers, violent crimes and organised crime in both a historical and contemporary setting, whilst also engaging in a discussion about how academic understanding and society has developed during this time.

Inside Out

The first Inside-Out course was piloted with the Philadelphia Prison System in 1997 and it is now delivered in 38 of the American states, Canada, Australia and, as of 2014, has been offered here in the UK. Inside-Out is a Prison Exchange Programme where students learn alongside prisoners and coming together to talk about and wrestle with issues that are important to them undertaking that learning inside a prison.


60 credits

This module provides you with the opportunity to carry out a self-directed, empirical and critical investigation of a specific Applied Criminology topic presented as an extended written piece of work. Students will engage in empirical research or conduct a literature based research project where they will be required to demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues arising in particular research situations, manage empirical data, show systematic and critical ability to synthesis both theoretical and methodological knowledge (the latter applied in praxis). 

The dissertation marks the culmination of the Masters degree and each project is overseen by an academic member of staff acting as the research supervisor.  

How you learn

The Criminology course is taught in weekly seminars, tutorials and workshops, which encourage substantial student participation. Our virtual learning environment is also used to deliver some content and facilitate communication remotely.

The MA Criminology will normally be studied on a one-year full-time basis and a two-year part-time basis, with the taught elements of the programme being delivered over a teaching period of approximately 30 weeks from September to May/June.

The programme is divided into study units called modules, each of 20 credits (excluding the Extended Project which amounts to 60 credits). Most modules on the programme are core, but there is also optional modules which cover influential areas of work undertaken in the Centre for Applied Criminology. You’ll complete 120 credits at the Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma Stage, and a further 60 credits at the Master’s stage. It is expected that most applicants will wish to progress to Master's stage, which is delivered and assessed through an extended project supervised through evening workgroups and through one-to-one supervision, which will come from an expert academic attached to the Centre for Applied Criminology.

The taught Master’s component covers a range of core and option modules, including topics such as - Research Methods (where you will develop your proposal for the final Applied Research Proposal module); Criminological Thought; Criminal Psychology; Penal Theory and Practice; Crime and Rehabilitation in Media; and Reflective Practice or Criminological Issues. 

At the Diploma stage, you may select options modules covering topics such as Restorative Justice, Crime Prevention in Homicide and Organised Violent Crime (HAVOC), and Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence (UDSV).  Additionally, the MA is awarded on the completion of the Applied Research Project [Dissertation] module (60 credits), which contains a taught component with evening sessions.

Student stories

Daniel McCulloch

The main reason why I came to study at Birmingham City University is that I won a bursary offered by the Howard League for Penal Reform which covered my fees for the MA Criminology course. What also attracted me to this course was the range of expertise of the tutors, the location and the fact that the course had such close links with the Howard League.

Liam Brolan

Liam Brolan

I’d recommend to anybody to throw themselves into their studies. I definitely think that at the University, especially at postgraduate level, the opportunities that are available to you are second to none.

The course is designed in accordance with British Society of Criminology subject benchmarks for criminology.

Further Study

Qualified candidates may apply to enrol on research degree programmes leading to the award of Doctor of Philosophy. Several of our graduates have now advanced to doctoral study, either at this University or elsewhere, and several now hold academic posts at a number of universities.

*Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016

Student stories Tony McCabe

Lecturing in Further Education

I chose to study at Birmingham City University because of the Centre for Applied Criminology is highly respected and coming from Staffordshire it is local to me.

*Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016

Enhancing employability

The teaching team draws on the combined with the expertise of members of the Centre for Applied Criminology, who will give you cutting-edge criminological knowledge from their impactful and high-profile research, as well as giving you excellent access to experienced practitioners and Criminal Justice System organisations.

The Reflective Practice module centres on work or volunteering experience to further develop your professional skillset.

The access provided to professionals, the presence of practitioners among fellow students and the capacity to reflect upon relevant volunteering or work experience within the structure of the course means that the course provides excellent opportunities for building contacts and networking, as well as developing opportunities for employment.

Previous students have included academic criminologists teaching in a range of UK institutions, prison governors and senior prison officers, police personnel, including officers and civilian analysts, probation personnel, magistrates,; media commentators and a television producer,  and employees of charities and bodies including NACRO, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and the New Bridge.

The programme does not offer a formal placement.

The course team can assist you in finding volunteering experience and has substantial experience of doing so at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The Research Proposal and Extended Project module permits you to undertake research and writing relating to your current work or voluntary experience.

The School of Social Sciences has relationships with a number of criminal justice agencies and non-government organisations, including the local Community Safety Partnership, HMP Grendon and the Howard League. 


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

*DLHE Survey 2016/17

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

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Curzon facilities eatery
Curzon facilities staircase
Curzon facilities student hub

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Curzon Building

This course is based at our City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other social sciences, law, business and English students.

The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.

Realistic, simulated environments include two mock court rooms, a Magistrates' and Crown Court, and an interviewing suite. We’re also exploring the use of virtual environments as a way to develop case study analysis.

For those studying on the BA (Hons) Policing or BA (Hons) Criminology, Policing and Investigation degrees, you’ll experience simulations of police interviewing environments for both suspects and witnesses, with access to tape recording and video playback analysis.

Crime investigation files are prepared using computer-based technology, and the crime data analysis requirements of the degree are supported by appropriate statistical and analytical software.

Psychology students can look forward to using state-of-the-art equipment as well, including the latest in eye-tracking software, and our new EEG machine, all geared towards giving you true hands-on experience with tools you’ll be using in your later career. You will also benefit from facilities across the wider campus including the Parkside and Millennium Point buildings.

The Curzon Building also features:

  • An impressive new library with access to over 65 million full text items and stunning views of Eastside City Park
  • Your Students’ Union which is located in a beautifully restored 19th century pub, The Eagle and Ball
  • A modern 300-seat food court with space to study and socialise
  • Brand new, accessible IT facilities with full Office365 for all students for free

David Wilson

Professor David Wilson

Emeritus Professor

David Wilson is a former prison governor and expert on serial killers through his work with various British police forces, academic publications, books, and media appearances. Most recently he appeared on the Channel 5 documentary, Serial Killers.

Imran Awan profile picture

Professor Imran Awan

Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology

Imran's areas of expertise are based around the impact of Islamophobia and the effects of counter-terrorism. As well as being a regular face in the media, Imran is a government advisor for the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred.

Dr Elizabeth Yardley

Professor Elizabeth Yardley

Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology

Professor Elizabeth Yardley is the Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology, a specialist centre engaged in a range of research in and around the criminal justice system. She has experience as a consultant, project managing a wide range of commissioned research for national and local clients including the British Red Cross, Birmingham City Council, Wolverhampton City Council and Sandwell MBC.

Martin Glynn

Martin Glynn

Criminologist, Doctoral Student, Lecturer

Martin is a criminologist with over 25 years' experience of working in prisons and schools. He has a Cert. Ed, a Master's degree in criminal justice policy and practice, and is currently doing his PhD at Birmingham City University where he is also a visiting lecturer. As a writer/director, Martin has gained a National and International reputation for his commissioned work in theatre, radio drama, children’s books, and performance poetry.

In Jan 2010 Martin was awarded a Winston Churchill International Travel Fellowship where he spent several weeks in the city of Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University (USA) looking at issues of fatherlessness, father hunger, and father deficit amongst young black men. In Oct 2010 Martin was also awarded a prestigious local heroes award by ‘The Association of Jamaica Nationals’ (Birmingham). Martins intergenerational one-act play about the physical and emotional effects of glaucoma, Kind of Blue, will be  featured in the book (Ethno theatre: Research from Page to Stage, edited by Johnny Saldana, Left Coast Press (2012).

Dr Sarah Pemberton

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Before joining Birmingham City University, Dr Sarah Pemberton taught Criminology at the University of Derby. Prior to this she has held research posts at the Health and Social Policy Research Centre, University of Brighton and the Health Science Research Institute, University of Warwick.

Dr Adam Lynes

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Adam Lynes is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University, where he has taught since 2012, covering topics from criminological theory to organised and violent crime. He has also conducted and published research focusing on a number of violent crimes - from serial murder to family annihilation.