Criminology - MA
Want to study a criminology Master’s in Birmingham? Our MA Criminology degree is open to graduates from all subjects. 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....
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Want to study a criminology Master’s in Birmingham? Our MA Criminology degree is open to graduates from all subjects.
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.
Professional Placement option
For our MA Criminology degree, you will have the opportunity to take the Professional Placement version of the course, which is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.
This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability and transferable skills. The placement experience will allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market.
You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study, with support from our Careers+ team as well as advice and guidance from your School.
Please note that placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course.
For full details, please click here.
What's covered in this 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 course 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 course team also makes increasing use of the University’s virtual learning environment, Moodle, where teaching staff will upload lecture notes, web links, video courses 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 hosted 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.
Find out more
|Typical Offers (UK Students)|
A 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.
Additional information for EU/International students
Applications from international applicants with equivalent qualifications are welcome. Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.
In additional to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.
|English language requirements 2020/21|
6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
|Other accepted qualifications||Visit our English language page|
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £8,800 per year
- Full Time
- 18 Months (Professional Placement)
- £9,700 per year
- Part Time
- 2 years
- Show fees
- Year 1 (80 credits) £4,000
- Year 2 (100 credits) £5,000
Fees for Part-time students
This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year as shown here.
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £13,200 per year
- Full Time
- 18 Months (Professional Placement)
- £14,520 per year
Access to computer equipment
You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.
Access to Microsoft Office 365
Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites and available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
Some modules may suggest that you purchase a key textbook. All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. Many students choose to purchase a copy.
Placement expenses (optional)
If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience.
You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this 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.
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.
Course in Depth
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):
The aim of this module is to give students 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.
This module is designed to enable students 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. The design of the module allows for face-to-face and blended learning.
The module provides students 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 students a comprehensive and contemporary platform for studying, crime, victimisation and its control.
This module is designed to develop learners’ understanding of the key theories of punishment through a brief exploration of the history of penal theory and a reflection on the contemporary challenges and controversies both in the context of England and Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole.
The purpose of ‘Researching Crime and Security’ is to build upon the basic practical research skills acquired in the ‘Research Methods’ module and to begin to critically consider central areas of contemporary Crime and Security research. In order to do this, students 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, hence demonstrating that they have acquired practical and transferable skills that are clearly linked to either employment or HEI work in the field of social research.
This module provides students with the opportunity to carry out a self-directed, empirical and critical investigation of a specific criminology or Security Studies topic. A dissertation will usually contain an extended literature review, methodology, summary of findings and conclusion, although this is an indicative guide only and the final product will vary dependent upon topic and method selected.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:
This postgraduate module provides students with an opportunity to critically engage with some of the key aims of their programme by examining some of the contemporary debates that surround the phenomenon of homicide and multiple homicide, and a range of separate and related forms of Organised Violent Crime - and how various perspectives have generated their own arguments in an attempt to understand this unique form of offending.
The content of the module includes both theoretical material and case study overviews that will examine the complex range of abusive behaviours, from coercive control to revenge pornography and the many theoretical aspects of domestic and sexual violence particularly relating to definition, nature, extent and impacts of these issues and engage in debate and discussion of them.
This module will offer students the opportunity to deepen their 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 (IR). It will also ‘critically’ analyse the policies and politics of preventing and countering terrorism at both the national and international levels.
Originating at Temple University in Philadelphia, the Inside-Out model of prison education promotes learning through creating conversations, collaboration and dialogue around issues of crime and social concern. University postgraduates (outside students) alongside incarcerated men and women (inside students) learn together on a module undertaken within the prison setting, facilitated by academic staff.
All core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
The course is designed in accordance with British Society of Criminology subject benchmarks for criminology.
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 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.
Welcome to the School of Social Sciences, home to students from all around the world!
All of our undergraduate and postgraduate social sciences courses are open to international students, and our courses have been tailored to take a global approach to learning. We frequently welcome international students through the Erasmus scheme, from countries including Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
- Explore some of the good reasons why you should study here
- Find out how to improve your language skills before starting your studies
- Find all the information relevant to applicants from your country
- Learn where to find financial support for your studies
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Facilities and Staff
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 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
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).More about Martin
Dr Sarah Pemberton
Associate Professor in Criminology, Acting Head of Department for Criminology and Sociology
Having initially studied Social Policy as an undergraduate Sarah became immersed in the study of the social world, this served as the foundation for an unrelenting interest in social research which she pursues to this day.More about Sarah