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Criminology (Policing) BA Honours

You’ll get to grips with policing’s important role within the criminal justice system and understand the effect of crime on society.
October 2020
3 years full-time
4 years full-time with placement
£9,250 (UK/EU) *
£13,400 (INT) *
Course Leader
David Porteous

Criminology in action

Our criminology degree* is one of the first in the world and we are one of the best universities for criminology in the UK. Focusing on policing, you’ll learn all about this fascinating aspect of criminology and the social, economic and political context in which it exists.

Our links with the Metropolitan and Hertfordshire police enable us to ‘fast track’ applications into the Special Constabulary (and be credited for it). If you are part of the policing specialisation, it can also help your entry into the full police force.

If you’re not looking to join the police, that’s okay too – this course is also for those who want to understand policing in society, and for those with an interest in law enforcement and investigations into criminal activity.

Studying the effect of policing on criminology

You’ll build your skills through a range of modules designed to give you the space to learn about the criminal justice system. Studying the role of the police, you’ll learn about them as a controlling mechanism in society; detecting crime, preserving law and order, engagement with the community, and examining policing at a local, national and international level.

You’ll gain the ability to evaluate theory, practices and policies when it comes to criminology and policing. You’ll be skilled in understanding how policy is created and implemented, as well as how it’s developed and interpreted.

During your criminology studies, there are also opportunities to undertake a work placement. Previous students have worked in organisations like the Barnet Youth Offending Team, Prisoners Abroad and Belmarsh Prison.

A fulfilling career in policing

Our personalised approach gives you the support you need to succeed as a student. While you're an undergraduate or foundation year student, you’ll have a Personal Tutor directly related to your course. If you need support with academic writing, numeracy and library skills, we’ll be sure to provide it. Our Student Learning and Graduate Academic Assistants have studied your subject and can support you based on their first hand experience.

Graduates of this course have gone on to work with the Metropolitan Police, as an aviation security officer, and on the parole board among other roles. If policing is something you're interested in, this is the course for you.

*Please note this course is subject to review.

Find out more

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What will you study on the BA Criminology (Policing)?

You will study the role of the police as a controlling mechanism and critically examine the models used to: preserve law and order; detect and reduce crime; engage with the community; and examine the function of the police at a local, national and international level.

You will learn to understand the intricacies of the criminal justice system and discover how different agencies such as the police, probation service, courts and prisons interact. Because our degree offers a theoretical approach to policing, you will develop a strategic understanding of its systems, placing you one step ahead in your career.

Contemporary issues of policing such as homicide, cybercrime, gangs, organised crime, mental health will also be explored.

What will you gain?

You will develop research skills that will enable you to analyse a range of publications in both print and digital from within government criminal justice agencies and other informed organisations.

You will develop advanced analytical skills that will enable you to critically evaluate a wide range of materials including theory and policies, strategies, and operational plans. You will know how to use theory and current policy examples to argue effectively, critically evaluate and understand different forms of policing and investigation.

You will develop excellent awareness of how policy is created, interpreted and implemented, and how this informs society. You will also be able to draw on a wide range of criminological theories and concepts in order to develop a debate or discussion and to justify your conclusions.


  • Year 1

    • Crime and Control in Social Context (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      The objective of this module is to introduce a number of key criminological concepts and issues. More specifically, the key factors that influence official definitions and societal perceptions of crime and deviance, and the differing involvement of identifiable social groups in crime and deviance. You will explore the differing levels of victimisation amongst such groups, and the main reasons behind these differences. Also, it will introduce the sources of information on crime, deviance and victimisation and to a number of specific types of crimes

    • Explaining Crime (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module is designed to introduce the major theoretical perspectives that have emerged in the discipline of Criminology over the past 200 - 300 years and enable you to apply these theories to concrete examples of crime. It considers how historical context, political influence and basic philosophical differences on such questions as what it is to be human have influenced the development of criminological perspectives. It will introduce the academic research that underpins different theories and help you to understand the key arguments and reflect upon the relative merits of each theory through engagement with relevant literature.

    • Researching the City: Skills and Methods in Criminology and Sociology (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to instruct you on the skills required for undertaking an undergraduate degree in either sociology or criminology, and the basic components of social science research through researching the city. This module provides an engaging opportunity to be introduced to different research methods and approaches as well as more generally study skills while exploring from an academic point of view the city where you study in and live in. Many of these skills will have relevance beyond your degree, and will be attractive to future employers. You will also be introduced to a range of critical writing skills that link to other modules across the year. Many of these skills will have relevance beyond your degree, and will be attractive to future employers.

    • Introduction to Criminal Legal Processes (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module provides an introduction for first year sociology and criminology students to the study of contemporary society. The module engages key issues and debates that constitute the subject matter, while introducing the themes and perspectives that inform social inquiry. You will also engage with core approaches to understanding contemporary society and the social relations that comprise it.

  • Year 2

    • Approaches to Research in the Social Sciences (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to develop your evaluative abilities regarding quantitative and qualitative research methodologies as well as to introduce you to the underlying philosophical and ethical principles of social research. It aims to make clear the links between theory, method and data, to define what data is within different research paradigms and the various ways of generating and analysing it, and to understand and critique published research. Emphasis is placed on developing awareness and critique of secondary sources. The module also aims to prepare you for the development of a proposal for the final year dissertation project. Throughout the module, you will apply the various components of research methods to the specific subject of the programme you are studying.

    • Criminology in Late Modernity (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module introduces the recent developments in criminological theory and research. As well as familiarising you with a substantial range of contemporary theoretical perspectives in criminology, it will introduce the central themes and substantive concerns central to current criminological research. In particular, you will focus on the consequences of globalisation and neoliberal politics on patterns of crime and social control in the Global North, looking at issues such as terrorism, state crime, cybercrime, and environmental crime.

    • Institutions of Criminal Justice (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module provides an introduction to key criminal justice institutions and agencies and an understanding of contemporary criminal justice issues. The main focus of the module is on the criminal justice system in England and Wales, though other material is drawn upon for European and international comparative purposes. At the end of the module, you should be familiar with recent and current policy issues and debates relating to the different criminal justice institutions, such as pluralised policing and the extended police family, contemporary crime investigation, sentencing in the criminal courts, and reform of the prison and probation systems.

    • Policing (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will provide an understanding of contemporary issues of policing and investigation in its wider forms. You will focus on the challenges within the police organisation as well as relationships between the police and public. You will consider policing governance, accountability, corruption as well as policing styles and key issues such as stop and search. You will examine the role of police in society, the history of the Met police, its organisation and culture as well as considering other forms of investigation
      such as benefit fraud, cybercrime and animal welfare investigations. You will develop an understanding of the range of problems facing policing and how to resolve them and you will be gain core knowledge, skills and practical experience, using class debates, presentations, field trips, treasure hunts, external speakers, and case study investigations.

  • Year 3

    • Dissertation (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to synthesise learning from the criminology programmes of study, providing an opportunity for you to study independently and investigate a topic in depth, in accordance with the Criminology Benchmark Statement. It fosters academic curiosity, an inquiry based approach, and the employment and application of research skills thus facilitating the development of a higher level of theorising. You will select a topic of personal interest on which you wish to undertake an in-depth study and manage your own learning with the support of an allocated supervisor for this period of independent study. Furthermore, those studying criminology will have criminology specific dissertation workshops to support the independent study and formative assessments during the dissertation year to assist with the development and completion of the dissertation

    • Gangs and Group Offending (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module critically examines the concepts of serious group offending and in particular the growing phenomenon of gangs. The existence and prevalence of gangs is contested academically and by practitioners. The module will consider classic and contemporary theories as to why gangs form and thrive in places; the challenges of defining gangs as opposed to street cultures and peer groups will be considered. Issues such as risks and motivations for joining, membership, behaviours, territoriality, recruitment, levels of violence, criminal activity, gender, links to organised crime, deprivation and globalisation are all pertinent topics addressed in the module. Key issues are identified and critically reviewed such as divergent experiences between the USA and the UK, race, gender, and partner/agency involvement. The module takes a left realist approach notably in consideration of recent police and practitioner strategies and initiatives under development regarding desistance, prevention and intervention models.

    • Violent Crime (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module aims to discuss the dynamics of interpersonal violence and its control, with an additional focus on the links between sex and violence. You will learn about the social and spatial parameters of violent crime, the possible causes and explanations for why violent crime happens (are we born violent or do we learn how to be violent?), theoretical and layperson perspectives on violence,  the forms that violence can take, and how violence can be gendered. Current prison forensic psychologists will also help you to understand how violent, and sexually violent, offenders are managed within the prison environment.

    • Justice, Punishment and Human Rights (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module will equip you with an understanding of the complex function of punishment as a practice and institution. More specifically, it aims to create a critical awareness of the influence of country specific values and circumstances as well as of global developments on the formulation of criminal justice, its responses to crime, deviance and public insecurity, and on its modes of punishment and their utility. It will also foster an appreciation of the human rights issues that different punishment measures and criminal justice responses can give rise to.

    • Organised and White Collar Crime (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module will introduce the critical debates on Organised Crime and Corporate Offenders. You will also become acquainted with the issues of defining these areas of criminality and the problems of conducting meaningful research. The module will begin with explanations of how social, political and economic conditions allowed organised crime to develop and discuss the links with White Collar and Corporate Crime.

    • Environmental Justice and Green Criminology (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module investigates perspectives on green criminology, and crimes against the environment and animals. It considers environmental and green offending, the regulation of environmental problems, and global perspectives on green crimes and crimes affecting ecosystems. It introduces the key ideas in green criminology, particularly theoretical debates on animal rights, the legal personhood of animals, and the prosecution of environmental crime. The module also examines the link between violence towards animals and violence towards humans and the extent to which animal abuse might be seen as an indicator of future violent offending or anti-social behaviour. You will develop an understanding of theoretical concepts and practical considerations in environmental justice, the enforcement of environmental and species legislation and the application of a green perspective to criminal justice.

    • Special Constabulary and Cadet Leadership (30 Credits) - Optional

      The aim of this module is to link academic learning to the PSC training and to the leadership role for the cadet element of policing with an opportunity to apply, consolidate and develop skills and knowledge for future employment. This is a practical experience module that provides the means for you to link academic work with the 'real world' situation in order to conceptualise the meaning of theory in the wider context. This module facilitates the embedding of transferable and graduate skills necessary for your future career path and employment.

    • Children as Victims and Offenders (30 Credits) - Optional

      This module examines and critically appraises the issue of children as victims and offenders. It explores the functions, roles and responsibilities of a variety of agencies whose task is to protect children and to work with those in trouble with the law, and enables you to develop a critical understanding of the issues underpinning policy and practice in these fields with particular attention to the importance of and problems associated with multi-agency working. The first part of the module focuses on children as victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse noting the relatively recent discovery of these crimes, examining the high profile cases and enquiries which have accompanied this process and explaining current legislation relating to and the organisation of child protection in England and Wales. The second part of the module turns to how the criminal justice system regards and deals with young people if they break the law. It provides you with a detailed knowledge of how Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) are structured and operate, and contains a strong practice focus. You may wish to move on to working with young people in the criminal justice system upon graduation and this module is designed to acquaint you with the knowledge and skills required in this field.

    • Forensic Mental Health and Offending (30 Credits) - Optional

      Are mentally disordered offenders ‘mad’ or ‘bad’? Should they be ‘treated’ or ‘punished’? What is the relationship between ‘mental health’ and ‘offending’? These are just some of many questions in this exciting new module which aims to introduce you to these key debates as well as exploring key theories and the differing responses surrounding forensic mental health. You will begin by looking at the different ways in which mental health has been classified, understood and responded to – tracing the history of asylums and psychiatry through to the de-institutionalisation of the mentally ill and moves towards ‘care in the community’. Public and political responses to high profile cases are considered. You will be able to critically engage with the development of criminal justice and health responses to mentally disordered offenders and consider the theoretical and practical challenges raised by targeting some people as ‘dangerous’ offenders. Treatment and risk predictions are also explored. The module will use case studies including looking at severe personality disorder and drug misuse.

    • Homicide and Serious Crime Investigation (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will introduce the process of serious crime investigation and critically examine whether it is an art form, relying on the humanistic approaches of intuition and personal experience, or as a science, through the expansion of forensic techniques. It will further develop your knowledge of this process through the causational theories of homicide and other serious crimes. It aims to facilitate a critical analysis of policy and practice of criminal investigation, using case studies and examples of famous cases.

    • Cybercrime (30 Credits) - Optional

      Cybercrime is a booming area of criminology as most crimes are now carried out online, through a variety of different devices and social media platforms. This module commences with some key lectures focusing on the definition of cybercrime, its victims and offenders and on the legal and methodological challenges related to it. Moreover, it presents case studies on online child sexual abuse, hacking, the Dark Web, identify theft, wildlife trafficking, gangs cyber terrorism, and online extremism.

    • Integrated Learning and Work Placement (30 Credits) - Optional

      Placements provide an opportunity for you to apply, consolidate and develop skills and knowledge gained in the classroom to the responsibilities of the placement and future employment. You will be assisted to find an appropriate placement with an organisation relevant to your studies where you will develop and apply critical and reflective capabilities in an employment context.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

  1. Overview
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Assessment and feedback
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. Additional costs

How can the BA Criminology (Policing) support your career?

Our degree is an excellent foundation for a career within the police force or the wider criminal justice system. While a degree in criminology will ordinarily lead to employment within the general field of criminal justice, the skills of data research, critical analysis, oral, written and visual communication, reasoned debate, understanding theoretical concepts, and policy analysis can be transferred to many other areas of employment.

Recent graduates from across our criminology courses have gained successful employment with youth offender teams, the police service, the probation service, social work, local authority crime analyst departments, victim support schemes and drug mentoring.

Industry links

Dr Robin Fletcher has developed close links with the Metropolitan Police Crime Academy at Hendon, formally the MPS Detective Training School. The most senior homicide detectives have enrolled onto a validated postgraduate work based learning course. This new course has allowed senior police officers to gain academic merit from skills developed in the work place.

What support is available?

Our Employability Service will help you to develop skills desired by top employers and gain valuable work experience. We provide workshops, events and one-to-one support with job hunting, writing your CV and cover letters, interview coaching and advice on how to network effectively. We also support you in securing part-time work, placements, internships, and volunteering opportunities, and offer an enterprise support service for those looking to start their own business.

Dr Emma Milne
Lecturer in Law Enforcement

Dr Milne teaches with a focus on law enforcement. Her research interests are in feminist criminology and women offenders, particularly violent women. Her PhD considered criminal justice responses to women suspected of causing the death of their newborn children. She analysed contemporary examples of criminal court hearings relating to infanticide, child cruelty, abortion and concealment of birth. The wider context of Dr Milne’s work is a consideration of social controls (including criminal justice regulations) on all women, notably in relation to pregnancy and reproductive function.

  • Jack Bourne

    Criminology (Policing) BA (was Policing BA) graduate

    Not only does the course explore the subjects of policing, criminal justice and punishment, but it also explores the broader concept of sociology and the sociological aspects of crime and deviance. Although I personally found the Policing modules the most enjoyable, it was the broader subjects, such as sociology, that provided me with a real contemporary understanding.

    I particularly enjoyed working closely with the academics who have an extraordinary knowledge and previous applied experiences that allow you to gain a great insight into the areas of criminology that they have personally explored.

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