Criminology MA

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time (September starts); 15 months full-time or 28 months part-time (January starts)

Teaching times: Mondays and Thursdays from 3-5pm (full-time); trimester 1 Mondays 2-5pm and trimester 2 Thursdays 2-5pm (part-time, September starts) or trimester 2 only Thursdays 2-5pm (part-time, January starts)


Examine real-life case studies to piece together the inner workings of serious crime, and the methods used to police it. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge needed for many careers in criminal justice, such as the Police, youth justice, the Home Office or border agencies.

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Full description


This course will prepare you for many criminal justice-related careers, such as the immigration and border agencies, the Police, the Prison Service, the National Probation Service, youth justice, the Home Office, the court system, violence prevention or social policy and research.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Organised Illicit Trade
    Researching organised crime has always been complex. For a number of years researchers have been preoccupied with a 'pyramidal' conception of organised crime as the activity of hierarchically- structured, ethnically-defined groups who collaborate for prolonged periods of time and whose pursuit of profit and political power threatens an otherwise satisfactory political economy (Edwards and Gill, 2003). Recently organised crime has begun to be portrayed as an enemy within rather than an alien conspiracy. There are a number of questions to be considered. One issue is 'organised crime' itself. How organised is it? For example how organised is illegal drug trafficking in Europe? What external threats to the 'licit' political economies are there? What is the relationship between the different research strategies and the formulation of international policies to tackle organised illicit trade? On this module, you will explore the structure and nature of organised illicit trade and discuss the concept of criminal networks, including criminal opportunity and routine activities, to analyse different case studies. These case studies will include financial crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, child abuse, toxic waste and smuggling. You will measure and evaluate the scale of illicit trade in order to analyse the regulatory issues involved and potential preventative mechanisms. You will need to contribute significantly to the weekly seminars by researching and discussing different cases. To complete the assignment, you will critically analyse the research in a specific area of organised crime and present your ideas. You will also produce a written portfolio including a variety of assessment methods.
  • Terror as Crime
    Criminology has sought to understand and explain many crimes and criminal behaviours, but despite an increasingly media-fuelled culture of fear and fear-mongering, little academic Criminological attention has been paid to the impact of 'terror' as opposed to 'fear' of crime. Words such as terror, terrorism, terrorist and the 'war on terror' are now a part of our everyday language, but what do these terms really mean? In this module, you will identify and critically examine terror-related issues through criminological and criminal justice perspectives. You will evaluate the effect of changing crime level and the contribution towards moral panics in contrast to the impact of more serious crime waves in societies and their collective or individual reactions. You will also evaluate the notion of mobilising a nation through terror-information in relation to the recent adoption and acceptance of regular risk assessment and analysis measures, as well as propaganda. In addition, you will contrast the 'war on terror' with the notion that 'war is terror', and investigate the shift from 'old' terrorism to 'new' terrorism, studying cases of domestic and international terror attacks in conjunction with 'ordinary' criminal offences associated with terrorism, such as drug-trafficking, arms-dealing and identity manipulation. You will also investigate the role of domestic criminal justice systems in preventing, investigating and responding to acts of terror, and critically analyse the punishment and consequences of punishment. The theme of peacemaking and peacekeeping will run throughout the module - you will explore and critically evaluate successful initiatives throughout the world, applying such programmes to selected countries who are currently mobilised in the 'war against terror' or experiencing what might be conceived as genocide. You will be assessed through a presentation, summary case study and an essay.
  • Major Project
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters dissertation, allowing you to explore in-depth a particular topic that reflects your academic interest.

Optional modules

  • Violence in Context
    There is a vast array of types of violence: quick and interpersonal (a slap); vast and organised (a war); passionate and angry (a quarrel); callous and impersonal (terrorism). This module will present you with theoretical frameworks through which you can analyse why and how violence, as a construct, proliferates globally and locally. You will apply broad theoretical explanations to particular 'violence scenarios', and test more focused, recent research in broader settings. Owing to the multi-faceted nature of violence, literature has often seeks to address specific forms of violence discretely, Owing to the multi-faceted nature of violence, its study in the Social Sciences has become somewhat fragmented. Literature has both sought to address specific forms of violence discretely. You will test a range of different theoretical models and apply them to a particular case study of violence. You will also critically evaluate policies and practitioner-based programmes that seek to address violent behaviour – through behaviour-management, education, punishment and mediation. After critically examining a range of broad theories of violence, you will examine specific scenarios of violence – presented from a range of academic and practitioner-based perspectives, which will give you a strong contextual understanding of many of the important issues. Your assessment will comprise a presentation, four weekly literature reviews (which you will discuss in class and submit along with your notes), and a case study analysis of a violence 'problem'. This case study will allow you to apply theoretical explanations, as well as to critically evaluate some of the methods that are used to address, prevent or punish the behaviour in practice.
  • International Institutions and Policy
    On this module, you will critically analyse the origins, evolution and role of international institutions in the global order over the course of the 20th and 21st century, in order to understand why these institutions have developed, and why states choose, or do not choose, to use these institutions as a means to achieve their objectives. You will examine the still-evolving structures of global governance, and the role of these organisations and institutions in contemporary politics and diplomacy, looking at the work of specific organisations including the UN, the EU, the IMF and World Bank etc. You will pay particular attention to the challenges inherent in attempting to foster international co-operation and consensus between sovereign nation states, including the limitations of international law, as well as examining possible future developments. Your assessment will comprise an initial report of 1,000 words, a 10-minute presentation, a brief data analysis and a longer essay of 3,500 words.
  • Policing Transnational Crime
    The globalisation of contemporary societies has meant that criminal activity that was once primarily a national concern is increasingly becoming transnational in nature. Transnational crime involves criminal activity that crosses state boundaries, regardless of whether that be physical boundaries or the virtual boundaries of cyberspace. As a result, policing bodies now have to manage risk and security on a much wider and larger scale. On this module, you will critically examine the nature of risk and security in contemporary society and human endeavours, on various levels, to control and respond effectively to such challenges. You will begin with an exploration of the concept of the risk society. One of the most fundamental changes brought about by late modernity is the move of social relations from a local context to a more global, abstract context. With this has come a focus on security and global concern as to how the risks produced by modernisation can be prevented and minimised. You will evaluate contemporary forms of policing and security the backdrop of societies that are built on the notion of risk, its avoidance and quantification. You will also consider risk from the perspective of corruption within organisations tasked with managing cross border crime. In the second part of the module, you will focus on responses to transnational crime. Newburn (2005) observed that recent decades have seen a significant expansion in international and, increasingly, transnational policing bodies, suggesting that the role of transnational policing organisations will increase. You will examine the ways in which policing agencies have adapted to the changing shape of risk and crime in modern society, exploring in particular the nature of intelligence-led policing and the role of police at this level as data patrollers and information gatherers. You will examine specific examples of cross border agency responses, such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL, as well as charting the growth of the power of transnational policing through mutual assistance and multinational agreements such as Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties and Memoranda of Understanding. You will be assessed through a portfolio, a presentation and a reflective commentary.


You’ll show your progress through a combination of essays, presentations, case studies and portfolio work.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences is an academic community of nearly 800 students and teaching staff. Our students are supported by leading practitioners, so you'll always have access to the latest theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as invaluable career advice. Subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences lead to work in many roles you might not have considered, maybe as a politician, chief executive – or even an inventor.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for their future, like work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year part time)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

There's no statutory funding for postgraduate study. However, we offer a number of scholarships and we've put together guidance on where to start researching funding options.

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements


Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Entry requirements are for January 2016 and September 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online