Study Criminology: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

In a world shaped by complex social dynamics and ever-evolving legal systems, the study of criminology emerges as a beacon of understanding, shedding light on the intricate web of crime, justice, and its profound impact on society. Aspiring minds seeking to explore this captivating realm need not look further than the United Kingdom, where criminology is not just a subject but a journey of discovery. In this article, we’ll navigate the fascinating landscape of criminology, offering insights, resources, and pathways for those intrigued by the pursuit of justice.


Table of Contents

What is Criminology?

Criminology is a multidisciplinary field of study that seeks to understand, analyse, and address the complex phenomenon of crime. It is a branch of social science that explores the causes, consequences, and prevention of criminal behaviour, as well as the functioning of the criminal justice system. At its core, criminology is a field that attempts to answer fundamental questions about crime and its impact on society.

Why Study Criminology?

Studying criminology is not merely an academic pursuit; it is an exploration of the very fabric that holds societies together. Delving into the field of criminology offers a multitude of compelling reasons that make it an essential and intellectually stimulating choice.

  1. Understanding Human Behaviour: At its core, criminology seeks to unravel the motivations and actions behind criminal behaviour. By studying criminology, you gain a deeper insight into the complexities of human conduct, probing the psychological, social, and economic factors that drive individuals towards crime.

  2. Contributing to Justice: Criminologists play a vital role in the justice system. They help identify patterns of criminal activity, study the effectiveness of laws and policies, and advocate for reforms. By studying criminology, you have the opportunity to contribute to a fair and just society by working towards the prevention and resolution of crimes.

  3. Intellectual Challenge: Criminology is a dynamic and evolving field. It challenges you to think critically, analyse data, and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. It’s a discipline that constantly adapts to new trends and issues in society, making it intellectually stimulating and rewarding.

Best Universities for Criminology in the UK

Criminology represents one of the biggest branches of sociology today. Here is a list of the top UK universities in the field of sociology according to the latest QS World University Rankings

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge1953.5499.294.078.0100.0
2University of Oxford1833.983.5592.092.097.0
3University of Bath1553.973.3997.
4University of Glasgow2063.823.4697.
5London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London1714.073.37100.
6Loughborough University1553.733.5798.
7University of Bristol1643.573.2297.
8Durham University1584.023.2394.
9University of Warwick1473.963.2994.374.080.085.7
10UCL (University College London)1833.7699.376.076.084.9
11University of Manchester1523.623.5196.762.072.084.8
12The University of Edinburgh1883.503.2499.454.064.084.8
13University of Birmingham1423.853.4296.370.068.084.8
14University of York1493.793.4797.
15University of Leeds1483.583.1796.768.076.084.1
16University of Nottingham1443.713.3296.
17Lancaster University1473.803.4198.458.062.084.0
18University of Exeter1573.913.1694.566.054.083.7
19University of Surrey1324.103.2296.
20Cardiff University1493.813.2995.
21University of Southampton1423.843.5397.
22University of Sheffield1423.802.9195.668.072.082.6
23Swansea University1373.973.1495.662.068.082.4
24University of Aberdeen1774.012.8694.368.070.081.8
25Glyndwr University, Wrexham1084.662.38100.
26University of Stirling1923.793.2292.852.070.081.4
27University of Leicester1253.883.1897.758.066.081.2
28University of Liverpool1373.133.3297.
29Aston University, Birmingham1263.712.9995.566.076.080.8
30University of East Anglia UEA1383.553.5389.654.090.080.7
31City, University of London1303.523.4396.
32University of Kent1173.683.5695.860.070.080.6
33University of Hull1223.943.3093.860.070.080.4
34Edinburgh Napier University1754.032.9994.856.066.080.0
35Queen's University Belfast1413.703.3494.952.044.079.6
36Royal Holloway, University of London1323.762.9795.656.060.079.4
37University of Sussex1283.553.2894.558.060.079.1
38Keele University1223.722.9294.
39University of Worcester1214.242.3992.966.074.078.4
40University of Lincoln1203.823.3396.646.056.078.4
41Nottingham Trent University1203.882.8296.558.066.078.4
42Newcastle University1393.353.0896.548.058.078.3
43Manchester Metropolitan University1243.912.8292.964.062.078.3
44Bangor University1283.822.8197.644.060.078.0
45University of Plymouth1223.963.2693.846.054.077.6
46Brunel University London1063.812.8690.
47University of Essex1233.633.4088.958.060.077.1
48University of Central Lancashire1263.743.2390.756.062.076.9
49Edge Hill University1283.922.4891.462.060.076.9
50University of Portsmouth1273.872.9593.752.052.076.8
51Ulster University1233.833.3189.658.056.076.8
52University of Sunderland1113.842.7992.368.072.076.7
53Bournemouth University1143.892.1893.
54University of Salford1243.893.1991.
55Aberystwyth University1264.1197.452.078.076.3
56Oxford Brookes University1153.842.8292.848.068.075.7
57Northumbria University, Newcastle1293.353.0692.750.058.075.6
58Sheffield Hallam University1153.842.8994.
59Bristol, University of the West of England1173.992.9292.
60University of Roehampton1103.802.9490.354.062.074.9
61Leeds Beckett University1183.882.6192.
62University of Suffolk1013.992.6984.
63University of Winchester1183.602.2993.
64Bath Spa University1113.862.7391.
65Abertay University1603.942.3388.362.060.074.3
66Liverpool Hope University1223.852.4890.642.070.073.9
67Birmingham City University1243.932.4191.544.062.073.9
68University of Huddersfield1223.733.0889.
69Staffordshire University1124.212.5597.636.032.073.9
70Liverpool John Moores University1233.952.5692.
71University of Greenwich1213.932.5592.742.052.073.7
72University of Derby1234.042.5991.
73University of Chester1263.602.2594.
74Coventry University1164.012.9484.452.064.073.4
75Solent University (Southampton)1113.862.0492.756.058.072.6
76University of Brighton1103.482.8392.346.058.072.6
77University of Westminster, London1073.952.9092.730.056.072.5
78Anglia Ruskin University1043.852.7389.
79University of Gloucestershire1173.702.5390.
80London Metropolitan University1023.843.1087.344.054.071.8
81Canterbury Christ Church University1043.872.6589.850.054.071.6
82University of Northampton1043.821.9192.750.062.071.4
83Goldsmiths, University of London1123.213.2583.752.062.071.4
84University of Bedfordshire1023.943.0984.646.068.071.3
85University of Bolton1074.4091.471.2
86Teesside University, Middlesbrough1163.802.6087.540.060.070.7
87University of East London953.662.5988.
88University of South Wales1203.4690.458.056.070.0
89De Montfort University1033.573.1887.446.040.069.9
90York St John University1164.042.0190.
91Middlesex University1063.742.7980.
92Leeds Trinity University1143.9287.442.080.069.5
93Kingston University1173.8392.840.048.069.2
94Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh1393.681.8096.926.068.4
95Buckinghamshire New University1023.7891.768.1
96University of Wolverhampton1003.8092.646.050.068.0
97University of Bradford1173.6994.
98St Mary's University, Twickenham1093.5988.766.9
99University of Cumbria1063.6089.366.5
100London South Bank University1023.8485.634.058.064.8
101Plymouth Marjon University1154.2172.962.9

Entry Requirements for a Criminology Degree

The entry requirements for a degree in criminology in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific course. Here is a general overview of the typical entry requirements you can expect for undergraduate criminology programmes in the UK:

  1. Academic Qualifications: Most universities in the UK will require applicants to have completed their A-levels or equivalent qualifications. The specific A-level subjects required may vary, but they often include subjects related to social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, law, or politics. Universities may also consider other qualifications like BTEC Extended Diplomas or Access to Higher Education courses.

  2. Minimum Grades: Universities typically specify minimum A-level or equivalent grades for entry. The exact grades required can vary, but they are often in the range of BBB to AAB, depending on the university and the competitiveness of the course.

  3. GCSEs or Equivalent: Some universities may require applicants to have a minimum number of GCSEs (or equivalent qualifications) at specific grades, including English and Maths. This requirement ensures that students have a strong foundation in basic skills.

  4. Additional Requirements: Depending on the university, there may be additional requirements such as a criminal records check (DBS) for courses that involve practical placements in criminal justice settings.

Jobs for Criminology Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  1. Police Officer
  2. Probation Officer
  3. Prison Officer
  4. Criminal Investigator
  5. Criminologist
  6. Legal Professions (e.g., Solicitor, Barrister)
  7. Social Worker
  8. Victim Support Worker
  9. Youth Worker
  10. Policy Analyst
  11. Security Consultant
  12. Forensic Psychologist
  13. Intelligence Analyst
  14. Private Security Officer
  15. Researcher
  16. Drug and Alcohol Counsellor
  17. Community Safety Officer
  18. Customs and Immigration Officer
  19. Cybersecurity Analyst
  20. Crime Scene Investigator

What do Criminology Graduates do?

Fifteen months after graduation, criminology graduates commonly find employment in protective service occupations, with 15% in such roles. Other prevalent jobs include welfare and housing associate professionals (8%), care workers (6%), HR positions (3%), and welfare professionals (3%). Overall, 65.3% of criminology graduates are employed, reflecting a diverse range of occupations within the field.

Salary for Criminology Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,100

Medium-skilled: £20,000

High-skilled: £23,000

Topics for Criminology Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of criminology and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Impact of Social Media on Criminal Behaviour: Investigate how social media platforms influence criminal activities, including cyberbullying, online radicalisation, and digital evidence in criminal cases.

  2. Restorative Justice Programmes: Evaluate the effectiveness of restorative justice programmes in reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation, and explore their implementation in different contexts.

  3. Mental Health and Criminal Justice: Explore the intersection of mental health issues and the criminal justice system, considering the treatment of mentally ill offenders and alternatives to incarceration.

  4. Cybercrime and Victim Responses: Analyse the experiences of victims of cybercrimes, their coping strategies, and the role of support services in assisting them.

  5. Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Investigate the prevalence of human trafficking and modern slavery, as well as efforts to combat these crimes and support victims.

  6. Crime Prevention Strategies in Urban Environments: Examine urban planning and design interventions aimed at reducing crime, such as the impact of improved lighting, surveillance, or community engagement.

  7. Gun Control and Crime Rates: Analyse the relationship between gun control policies and firearm-related crime rates in different regions or countries.

  8. White-Collar Crime and Corporate Responsibility: Explore issues related to white-collar crime, corporate fraud, and the responsibility of corporations in preventing and addressing such crimes.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  1. Law: A degree in law prepares individuals for legal professions such as solicitors or barristers. 

  2. Psychology: Psychology can be a valuable choice, particularly forensic psychology, which focuses on understanding the psychological aspects of criminal behaviour and working with offenders and victims.

  3. Sociology: Sociology explores the social structures and factors that contribute to crime.

  4. Social Work: Social work degrees equip individuals to work with vulnerable populations, including those involved in the criminal justice system. 

  5. Political Science: Political science degrees delve into the policies and political systems that influence criminal justice and law enforcement.

  6. Forensic Science: Forensic science focuses on the application of scientific methods to solve crimes.

  7. Public Policy: Public policy degrees provide insights into the development and evaluation of government policies, including those related to criminal justice and crime prevention.

  8. Criminal Justice: While closely related to criminology, a degree in criminal justice provides a more focused study on the criminal justice system itself, including law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

  9. Cybersecurity: In an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is a growing field. Combining criminology with cybersecurity can lead to opportunities in cybercrime prevention and investigation.

  10. Data Science/Analytics: With the importance of data in criminology and criminal justice, a degree in data science or analytics can be valuable for those interested in research and data-driven roles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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