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Criminology

BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: LL31

Start dates: September 2023

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of History, Philosophy and Culture

Overview

Can the death penalty be justified? Should we criminalise ‘fast fashion’? Should we legalise street drugs? Study criminology at Oxford Brookes and you’ll try to answer some of society’s biggest questions, exploring who commits crime and why – and what practical and political measures we can take to prevent crime.

While many criminology courses are taught from a criminal justice angle, we’re a bit different at Oxford Brookes. You’ll study the subject from a much broader, interdisciplinary perspective. You’ll look at the social causes of crime. You’ll consider how race, gender and class overlap and define our perceptions. And most importantly, you’ll learn to challenge common misconceptions that can cause inequality in the criminal justice system.

You could work with an NGO on placement helping to support disadvantaged children to make positive decisions and avoid crime. Or maybe you’ll choose our Green Criminology module and work towards a career in environmental justice. Perhaps you want to join the Police? Whatever path you want to take, we’ll help you get there.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • A distinctive social focus

    Being part of the School of History, Philosophy and Culture, 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 or drugs who teach 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.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study Abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course Details

Course Structure

You’ll cover a wide range of topics, from petty crime to the crimes of the powerful.

In Year 1, you’ll develop key academic skills that will help you succeed in the course. We’ll also ask some big questions like what is crime? Why do some people commit crime, but not others?

By Year 2, you’ll have a solid understanding of the subject and you can start to look into advanced ideas. For example, Researching Crime explores the ethical and practical applications of the subject, where you’ll learn to conduct interviews or analyse your favourite true crime podcasts. Optional modules help you tailor the course to your own interests, whether that’s learning about environmental justice or getting experience on a work placement. Core modules help you learn to challenge the status quo - how might capitalism encourage crime? Where and why are there inequalities in the criminal justice system?

Year 3 is your chance to specialise further and complete your own research project. Optional modules can include topics like the pleasures of crime, visual criminology, queer criminology, drugs, or policing.

Students sitting around tables listening

Learning and Teaching

On this course you’ll explore why crimes occur in our society. You will learn through a variety of teaching and learning methods including seminars, workshops and tutorials.

The programme is flexible enough to encourage you to study your own areas of interest. This may include green criminology. Or you may choose to examine medieval crime and punishment. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to gain practical skills through a work placement. This could include a work-based activity withThames Valley Police. 

Typical contact time is 24 hours per module. You will be expected to undertake 126 hours of independent study per module.

 

Assessment

Various assessment methods are used, including: 

  • exams
  • essays
  • individual and group presentations 
  • critical reviews
  • portfolios.

This variety gives you the opportunity to show your abilities across a number of different skill sets. 

You will have access to: 

  • essay clinics
  • assessment workshops
  • preparatory classroom based activities, for example exam workshops.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Crime and Criminology in Context

What is crime? Who commits crimes, and why? And why are some acts criminal, when others aren’t? In this module, you’ll dig into the key concepts and theories of crime. You’ll challenge your own common-sense understanding of crime, through the theories of celebrated criminologists. And you’ll consider:

  • who invents crime and why
  • the role of crime in society
  • how might we study crime today digitally (online) and visually (through images)

Criminal Justice in Action

In this module, you’ll explore some key concerns around crime. You’ll examine the current problems and policies in:

  • criminal justice
  • law enforcement
  • punishment. 

You’ll gain core critical skills, as you dive into debates on the control and management of crime. You’ll examine the relationship between the theory of crime and criminal behaviour. And you’ll explore the practical workings of the criminal justice system. 

 

Criminology Skills

You'll have the support and guidance to build your academic skills. You'll improve your reading of resources and critical thinking abilities. You'll develop the skill of challenging preconceptions - helping you become an independent learner. Which is essential in guiding you to fulfil your potential as a Criminology student.

Media and Crime

How does the media police our morals as a society, and define our ideas of acceptable behaviour? In this module, you’ll gain the critical skills to analyse popular representations of crime in the media. You’ll examine news reports and other forms of mass-media. And you’ll develop a knowledge of crime as a cultural construct.

Understanding Crime and Society

You'll engage with key concepts in crime, punishment and society. You'll explore:

  • the concept of crime
  • categories of crime

You’ll assess and investigate:

  • what is crime?  
  • and how do we define and measure it? 

What do we know about trends in crime over time and how does this differ from individual perception or ‘fear’ of crime?

 

Human Nature

What does it mean to be human? Are humans the same as other animals? How do race and gender relate to human nature? In this module, you’ll explore some of the biggest questions facing humanity, and join philosophers throughout the ages in exploring human nature. You’ll gain core critical skills as you debate how best to study our nature. You’ll ask whether, if we’re products of evolution, human nature even exists. You’ll develop excellent analytical skills as you explore these ideas through cutting-edge work in philosophy, as well as:

  • feminist theory
  • cognitive science
  • evolutionary biology.

Optional modules

Introduction to Ethics

What makes an action good or bad? Are morals absolute, or is morality just a matter of social convention? Can we judge members of a different society through our own moral rules?  

In this module, you’ll explore the views of the great thinkers of the past, such as Aristotle, Kant and Mill. You’ll reflect on what their theories mean for questions such as whether we should give to beggars on the streets of Oxford, or if we should do more for refugees.

 

Understanding Culture

What do we mean when we talk about ‘culture’? How do human ideas, customs and behaviours become a way of life? In this module, we’ll investigate the key theories and concepts of culture. You’ll gain invaluable critical skills as you reflect on different aspects of culture. And you’ll explore the impact of modern culture on individuals and society today. 

You’ll explore cultural artefacts and activities. And you’ll look at how culture relates to identity, power and representation.

 

 

Bloody Histories: Crime and Violence in the West

How did crime play out in the West, from 1400 to 2000? In this module, you’ll gain a specialist knowledge of criminal justice history. You’ll explore the links between crime and punishment, and the societies of Britain, Europe and America. You’ll develop core critical skills as you dig into pressing debates about the history of crime. And you’ll get to know the key sources used by crime historians, and the challenges in using them.

Creating Criminology

Discover contemporary issues in criminological research. Learn and explore the research interests of your tutors. 

On this module you'll engage with a range of approaches to criminology. Building your research knowledge of the field of criminology. 

You'll gain the skills to explore specialised research areas in your studies. Through specialised study you'll discover areas you may select for your dissertation topic.

Also, through workshops you'll be able to develop your criminological interests and skills. Through debates, planning a student led Criminology Society and creating a newsletter.

 

 

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Crime, Capitalism and Markets

In this module, you’ll dive into capitalism, and its key relationship with crime. You’ll use a political economy approach, meaning you’ll look at the economy and its relationship with law and government. You’ll explore free-market capitalism, as well as capitalism on a global scale. And you’ll gain critical skills, as you consider the:

  • individual
  • moral
  • cultural
  • social 
  • elements of the economy, and how these relate to crime.

 

Crime and Intersectionality

In this module, you’ll get to grips with intersectionality - a way of understanding someone’s identity as made of characteristics such as race, gender and class. Intersectionality offers you a unique way to study crime. You’ll discover how criminal justice institutions, such as the police and criminal courts, respond to and discriminate against different social groups.

Researching Crime: Methods, Approaches and Ethics (compulsory)

In this module, you’ll explore the key research methods of Criminology. You’ll gain invaluable critical skills, as you look at:

  • research methods
  • design 
  • processes
  • outcomes

You’ll also understand the ethics of research, including:

  • the requirements of conducting research with vulnerable populations.
  • how your identity can help or hinder research relationships.

 

Globalisation and Crime

In this module, you’ll explore and examine areas of crime and crime control across different regions of the world through the lens of 'globalisation', or the increased interconnectedness of social relations across the globe

You’ll use a combination of theoretical concepts and case studies to interrogate and understand the interconnectedness of crime and responses to crime in the contemporary world.

 

Optional modules

Public Criminology

In this module, you’ll dive into real world problems of crime and criminal justice. You’ll apply your criminology knowledge to:

  • find solutions to key questions of crime and justice
  • find solutions to problems in current practice
  • explore how these solutions can inform future research. 

You’ll examine case studies from current policy and practice. You’ll apply the insights of:

  • practitioners
  • policy-makers
  • politicians 

currently working in criminal justice. You’ll gain a strong understanding of how criminology works in real life. And you’ll explore why there is a disconnect between the classroom, and criminology in practice. 

 

Criminology Work Placement Scheme

In this module, you’ll kick-start your career, and gain key work experience in organisations related to crime. You’ll do a placement, or work-based learning activity in:

  • a public sector organisation
  • a non-governmental organisation (NGO)
  • a voluntary organisation

Whether working with the police, prison services, schools or charities, you’ll gain invaluable skills for your future career. You won’t engage directly with clients or service users, but you’ll gain a strong knowledge of how organisations identify and fight crime.

 

Crime and Punishment through the Ages

Why do we commit crimes? In this module, you’ll follow the causes and circumstances of crimes since the medieval period. You’ll explore the punishments carried out by authorities, and why these have changed so dramatically over history. You’ll understand the history of crime. And you’ll gain the knowledge to study:

  • crime
  • criminality
  • punishment 

ensuring you succeed in your degree.

 

Green Criminology

You'll engage with the emerging field of Green Criminology. You'll learn the key theoretical concepts of green criminology and environmental justice. 

You'll focus on understanding Green Criminology as a transnational field. Including the social issues impacting individuals on a global scale. 

 

Ethics for the 21st Century

You'll explore recent social and technological developments such as:  

  • globalisation
  • social media and the internet
  • medical and scientific advances
  • mass migration 

Looking at the new ethical challenges they present that are prominent in public debate and a source of conflict and division in society. You'll analyze some of these ethical issues from a philosophical perspective. 

You'll consider whether corporations have moral responsibilities and what is the best way to combat racism? Also how are epistemic vices such as close-mindedness, intellectual arrogance and dogmatism fostered by the prevalence of conspiracy theories, fake news, and testimonial injustice?

Are we right to assume that democracy is the only morally-defensible way to govern a country? Can technology and science help us to improve ourselves?

 

Crimes of the state and resistance

Explore crimes and harms, perpetrated by the state. Including the potential to resist state-perpetrated atrocities. 

You will examine historical and contemporary case studies. Along with theoretical concepts from a state crime framework. Building your criminological understanding about the:

  • nature
  • objectives
  • motivations 
  • and denial of state crime. 

You will engage and explore the resistance and challenges within, including:

  • social movement activism
  • legal challenges 
  • and armed liberation struggles.

Jack the Ripper and the Victorian Underworld

How did Jack the Ripper - the mass murderer of vulnerable women - shape Victorian culture? And how did Victorian Britain create the Jack the Ripper phenomenon? In this module, you’ll dive into the criminal underworld of the nineteenth century. You’ll investigate a time where public ideas on crime clashed with those of the authorities. You’ll explore:

  • attitudes towards the morality and immorality 
  • the origins of the concept of the criminal class
  • the introduction of policing
  • the development of punishment.

And you’ll ask who the real Jack the Ripper was, exploring suspects and theories.

 

Independent Study in Criminology

This module gives you the chance to do independent study on a topic that fascinates you. With support from expert tutors, you’ll submit a proposal for independent study. We’ll agree to a programme of work and assessments, tailored to your interests.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Dissertation in Criminology

This module gives you the chance to do independent research on a topic that fascinates you. With the support of expert tutors, you’ll choose a dissertation topic based on your interests. 

For your dissertation, you may choose to combine the knowledge and skills of two subjects. In this case, you can have one supervisor from each subject. 

 

Optional modules

Advanced Study in the History of Crime

In this module, you’ll gain specialist insight into the history of crime. You’ll choose a topic based on staff research interests, meaning you’ll always be taught by an expert. You’ll gain invaluable critical skills, as you dig into the current research around your topic. And you’ll develop excellent research skills, including how to analyse primary sources.

Border Criminology

In this module, you’ll examine border criminology, which is the study of the intersection of border control and criminal justice.  You’ll get to grips with key issues around:

  • migration
  • punishment
  • citizenship and belonging 

You’ll investigate core developments of border criminology, including:

  • immigration removal centres
  • foreign national prisons
  • policing of borders

You’ll gain key critical skills, as you explore debates surrounding immigration, punishment and national identity. You’ll examine the institutions concerned with border control, and the increasing use of punishment and force around immigration control in the UK and abroad.

Dealing with Drugs: Control and Intoxication

In this module, you’ll bust some key assumptions around psychoactive drugs. You’ll look at why we use them and how we control them in society. You’ll investigate:

  • criminological
  • sociological
  • historical 

and policy insights, to explore the relationship between drug use, individuals and public morality. You’ll gain key critical skills as you debate drug policies, and how we can lessen the harm of substance abuse. You’ll look at alternative ways to regulate drugs than our current ‘war on drugs’ mentality. And you’ll explore the future of synthetic drugs. 

 

Independent Study in Criminology

This module gives you the chance to do independent study on a topic that fascinates you. With support from expert tutors, you’ll submit a proposal for independent study. We’ll agree to a programme of work and assessments, tailored to your interests.

Interdisciplinary Dissertation in Criminology

For your dissertation, you’ll carry out research on a topic that fascinates you. The topic will be interdisciplinary, meaning that it will be relevant both to Criminology and your other subject. This allows you to be creative in your thinking, making original or unusual connections between your different subject areas. 

Whatever the topic, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge of it. You’ll develop excellent project management skills as you define your research area, plan your research and manage your own schedule. You’ll also acquire great research skills to take forward into your career.

Picturing the Criminal: From Mugshot to Fine Art

In this module, you’ll study images of crime, including:

  • the world’s most troubling mugshots
  • early crime-scene photographs
  • bloody and brutal paintings
  • criminal courtroom artworks.

Seeing and picturing is a key way of understanding crime. You’ll get to grips with the fast-growing field of visual criminology. You’ll discover the importance of images at the birth of criminology, and how they perpetuate stereotypes about race and gender. You’ll also consider why, because of this, criminologists have been sceptical about working with images. 

You’ll have the rare chance to go behind the scenes, and visit Western-Europe’s most unique visual arts and social scientific-imaging collections, held in Oxford at:

  • the Pitt Rivers Museum
  • the Ashmolean Museum

The Carnival and Pleasures of Crime

Why do people enjoy committing crimes? How might crime offer identity and purpose? In this module, you’ll explore the role of:

  • pleasures
  • performance
  • identity 
  • meaning 

in criminal acts. You’ll think about the multiple meanings and actions that crime holds for different people across time. You’ll consider the social benefits of crimes and resistance to the law. And you’ll explore how different interpretations of crime might affect crime control and criminal justice.

 

Sex That Offends

This module introduces you to case studies, concepts and debates. With a focus on sexual offences and other serious crimes. You will explore themes of consent and harm. Drawing on critical criminology, feminist theory and socio-legal studies. 

You will look at how the criminal law and cultural norms have constructed certain behaviours and identities as deviant. 

And then from a criminological perspective; you will go beyond the headlines to examine the role of:

  • labelling
  • moral panics 
  • and changing social attitudes towards sex.

To develop your critical thinking skills.

 

The Prison and Imprisonment

Should we punish prisoners, or support them to re-enter society? In this module, you’ll dive into the key issues of prisons. You’ll consider modern prisons, globally and historically. And you’ll examine prisons through:

  • prisoners
  • prison staff
  • wider society. 

You'll trace the evolution of the prison - from the rehabilitative ideal of the post-war period, to the greater focus on punishment today. You’ll look at how political parties use prison policies to win votes, rather than reduce crime. 

You’ll dive into the inner workings of prisons, from governance to administration. You’ll look at the routines of prison life, and how prisoners cope with, and give meaning to them. You’ll consider sentence progression for different types of prisoners. And you’ll explore how well prisons prepare inmates for life after release.

 

Policing, Security and Society

This is a key time to study policing in western countries. The response to crime in the west is changing fast as policing moves towards privatisation in the digital age. 

You’ll analyse modern policing in the west and its former colonies. You’ll examine the history of policing. You’ll compare policing in other countries to policing in the UK. You’ll also look at the rise of neo-colonial policing today (the use of economic, political and cultural pressures to control other countries).

You’ll explore areas like: 

  • securitization
  • militarization 
  • transnationalism 
  • human trafficking

 

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

Careers

Criminology graduates often choose to work in law enforcement or the criminal justice system. But those aren’t your only options. Your skills will be ideal for a wide range of career destinations including:

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

We offer work placement options such as Citizens Advice, Shannon Trust, who work in prisons to promote literacy, 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.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Liviu Alexandrescu

Liviu is leading on, and contributing to, taught modules on the political economy of crime, transnational comparative criminology, crime and the media, cultural criminology, drug cultures and policy, criminological research methods and other subject areas.

Read more about Liviu

Joint honours options

You can also study this course as part of a joint honours degree. This course can be joined with:

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27

BTEC: MMM

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,600

Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,600

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Please note tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

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, if any, are detailed below.

Most modules included a recommended reading list. All recommended texts are available from the library. We recommend our students purchase The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (Oxford University Press, fifth edition) as a core course textbook. It retails for under £50 if bought new, and considerably less if bought second-hand.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

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.

Note:

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements