Start dates: September 2024

Full time: 12 months

Part time: 24 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Law and Social Sciences

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While many criminology courses are taught from a criminal justice angle, at Oxford Brookes you’ll study the subject from a much broader, interdisciplinary perspective. Study contemporary theories and issues in Criminology, and how to apply them to the criminal justice system and satellite organisations that support it. We teach students to be critical of preconceptions surrounding crime and crime control and empowered to engage positively with their communities and make an impact in the world.

This course focuses on contemporary issues in criminology including decolonisation, environment, gender and sexuality and online spaces. We tackle important issues facing society today through a criminological lens, and encourage students to be active and critical members of society.

With employability at the heart of the programme, it draws on well-established links with organisations including Thames Valley Police, the Probation Service, Oxford City Council, and many charities supporting young offenders to provide insight and experience across some of the applied aspects of the discipline.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • A distinctive social focus

    Being part of the School of Law and Social Sciences you'll get to study the subject from a wide range of views.

  • Leading lecturers

    The unique social angle of the department also attracts renowned researchers in areas like immigration and sexuality teaching on the course.

  • Links with top organisations

    Thanks to our partnerships with organisations like Thames Valley Police and the Tap Social Movement, you'll have great options for work placement or real-life projects.

  • Make the degree yours

    Optional modules let you study topics that interest you while the dissertation is your chance to focus on an area you care about.

  • A stepping stone to a rewarding career

    Whether you want to work with the police or campaign for the environment, criminology gives you the tools to succeed.

Course details

Course structure

The MSc in Criminology consists of 3 compulsory 20-credit modules in Semester 1. These compulsory modules will investigate contemporary criminological theory, advanced research methods and critical perspectives on the criminal justice system. 

Optionality is introduced in the second semester, with five options, each of which are 20 credits. Students will be required to take 3 of 5 options to complete their programme, choosing from: decolonial criminology, critical criminology and social justice, crime and criminology in the digital era, a work placement module and an advanced independent study project. Students may also take 1 module from the MA International Relations or the LLM Master of Laws as an option, each of which are 20 credits.

In the final semester, all students complete a 60-credit dissertation module, an extended independent research project in an area of the student’s choice. This will allow each student to work closely with their supervisor, an academic expert, to conduct their own research into a specific area of criminology. 

Students looking at their laptops

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn directly from leading researchers in criminology, and collaboratively from those studying with you. You’ll be able to nurture your interests and develop your expertise in criminal justice.

You’ll experience high-quality learning through a diversity of methods, including: 

  • lectures
  • seminar discussions
  • group work presentations
  • individual presentations
  • individual and small group tutorials
  • workshops and practical skills classes.


Assessment is conducted through a variety of assignments linked to the expected learning outcomes. Accessibility and inclusion is fundamental to our MSc Criminology, which means that there are alternative assessments such as presentations and video essays, empowering you to showcase your skills and knowledge beyond traditional essay-writing and exams. You will be assessed with the following methods:

  • presentations
  • video essays
  • projects
  • policy reports
  • essays
  • written dissertation.

You will receive feedback over the course of the year from your lecturers on your work and progress.

Study modules

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Advanded Research in Criminology

    You’ll examine the main approaches to research in the field of criminology. This will equip you with the knowledge and skills to apply and assess the principles and methods informing criminological research. You’ll be involved in practical sessions to practise carrying out interviews, surveys, virtual ethnography and creative data collection. Students will also explore different qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques such as critical discourse analysis, thematic analysis and content analysis. This module is designed to complement the MSc dissertation module so that students can make well-informed and justifiable choices about their research projects.

  • Contemporary Criminological Theory

    You’ll explore the theories that criminologists use today to understand and explain crime. This module will challenge your preconceptions about criminology, explaining how criminology has developed as an academic discipline and questioning whether criminology itself could be abolished. It will be accessible to those who do not have a criminological background, while enhancing and challenging the understandings of those who have previously studied criminology.

  • Criminal Justice Policy and Practice for the 21st Century

    In this module, you’ll gain a critical overview of key criminal justice policy and institutions around the world. You’ll explore issues of inequality, accountability, and discrimination within criminal justice processes, and groups affected by the criminal justice system, including women, ethnic minorities, Indigenous persons, youth, and victims. There will be opportunities to consider alternatives to traditional criminal justice approaches, such as alcohol and other drug treatment courts, restorative justice programs and abolitionist perspectives. External speakers will be invited to share their experiences of working in the criminal justice system, including a criminal judge, probation officer, victims’ support worker and NGOs working with those leaving prison.

Optional modules

Advanced Independent Study in Criminology

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an independent project of your own choosing. You will select a piece of individual work on a relevant topic, and will be able to choose your own method of assessment. You’ll be supported by a subject expert as your supervisor throughout the module.

Crime and Criminology in the Digital Age

You’ll learn about different types of online crime, their governance and regulation and the ethical issues in this area. This is an interdisciplinary module taught by the Criminology team and the Centre for Ethical AI here at Oxford Brookes. You will have the opportunity to analyse and interpret data yourself in this field and consider the future of criminology and crime investigation in the digital age.

Critical Criminology and Social Justice

This module introduces you to the intersections between critical criminology and social justice campaigns including the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmentalism. You’ll investigate how criminology as a discipline has been shaped by these movements since the 1960s, looking at abolitionism, feminism(s), social constructivism, postmodernity, and queer theory. You’ll think about how understandings of “crime” have changed over time, for example, with the (de)criminalisation of certain groups, identities, and behaviours.

From Colony to Decolony: Decolonial Criminology

You’ll focus on decolonialism in criminology and criminal justice in this module. This will include examining key moments during the colonial era and their legacies in criminal justice institutions and society today. You’ll think about how abolition has grown out of the decolonial movement, and the implications that this has for criminal justice institutions today.


Optional modules

Work Placement or Work Based Research Project

You’ll be able to explore your criminological interests within a work placement or project setting. You will undertake a placement or work-based learning activity within a selected public sector organisation, NGO or voluntary organisation that engages in managing crime in some form. This may be a direct engagement such as policing or the prison service or in a more indirect way such as a voluntary sector service (for example a learning disability advocacy group) or in a public sector organisation (a school or a local authority). You’ll enhance your understanding of the wider societal context of crime and crime management and gain transferable skills outside of the classroom.

Dissertation / final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation/Final Project

    You’ll have the opportunity to undertake an extended and supervised piece of independent research work on an appropriate topic chosen by you in consultation with a supervisor. You’ll be able to develop your research skills and gain the knowledge and insight that comes from conducting original research. You can choose to conduct an empirical primary research study using methods such as a survey, interviews or observation, conduct original research using existing primary sources or conduct a review and analysis of published evidence on a particular topic.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


We have a lively and supportive research culture with a number of specialist research groups led by internationally recognised academics, promoted through the Criminology Research Group, which all the teaching staff are members of. Our Criminology staff are also members of a range of university-wide interdisciplinary research groups, due to their wide-ranging interests and areas of expertise, so there are opportunities for you to form connections across the university too.

You can attend the Criminology Research Group seminars and other research events in the School of Law and Social Sciences and beyond. You will have the opportunity to become involved in research through specialist modules in which teaching staff have expertise. They also supervise dissertations in their specialist subjects.


MSc Criminology graduates often choose to work in law enforcement or the criminal justice system, for which you will develop key skills and knowledge through this course. But those aren’t your only options. Your skills will be ideal for a wide range of career destinations including:

  • NGOs
  • charities
  • local authorities and government organisations
  • crime consultation
  • community support
  • security firms
  • research.

We offer work placements or work-based learning projects in organisations such as Citizens Advice, the Thames Valley Partnership, Thames Valley Police, charities such as ‘SAFE,’ Support for Young People Affected by Crime, or Children Heard and Seen (CHAS). Or even a local brewery, Tap Social, who sell beer to support social justice movements. So you’ll have a great opportunity to get some experience.

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

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Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.