Subject Guide

Criminology Degree

Uni Compare  · Nov 30th 2021

Criminology focuses on the study of crime and criminals, the motivation behind the crime, the consequences and any theories for prevention.

Crime scene

When you complete a law and criminology degree, there is a whole world of fascinating criminology degree jobs awaiting. Some careers may indeed tick the boxes of common perception (trench-coat, trilby hat and magnifying glass at the ready!) but you might also be surprised at some of the less obvious jobs with criminology degree options available.

criminology degree

What to do with a criminology degree?

The very heart of criminology lies in understanding the sociological and psychological factors which influence criminal behaviour. Criminology degree jobs therefore tend to lean towards prevention before the crime rather than prosecution after the crime, though there are a number of roles in both areas. The section below (‘What can you do with a criminology degree?’) goes through all these options in more detail.

In addition to the world of crime prevention, many industries would jump at the chance to hire a criminology degree graduate. The skills you develop in this programme (such as critical thinking, empathy, inference, problem-solving, attention to detail and calculating predictions) would be useful in business too, so look out for graduate employment programmes if you don’t intend to focus on criminality straight away.

Also, as criminology is a highly competitive field, it might strengthen your opportunities if you continue in education after your undergraduate criminology degree. Scroll down to the section ‘What can I study after Criminology?’ to see some of the MA and MSc options available.

Crime and behaviour are fascinating, and many questions can be answered through the studying of criminology and criminal justice.

What can you do with a criminology degree?

One of the main reasons students choose to study a criminology degree is to go into the police force as a constable, sergeant, or as a detective. The psychological knowledge gained from a law and criminology degree is particularly helpful for detectives, whose aim is not simply to enforce law, but to detect, deduce, predict, infiltrate and prevent criminal behaviour. Detectives may work in CID (the Criminal Intelligence Department) or in Special Branch. Government roles in the Home Office, preventing incidents of national security, may also appeal to a criminology degree UK graduate.

And how about that other kind of detective - the private detective? In the information age where anonymity and surveillance collide, there is increasing demand for private detectives, hired by individuals to identify and track other individuals.

Prevention is key, so roles in youth work, social work and the probation system are all ideally suited to a criminology grad. Your expertise and interpersonal skills can help keep vulnerable groups on the straight and narrow - the kind of job that really makes a difference.

Perhaps working one-to-one with potential or ex-offenders on a daily basis doesn’t appeal to you, in which case, working in public policy and holding a place in a think-tank provides the opportunity to influence criminal issues in a more detached way.

With a little extra training, a range of other pathways open up too, including counselling, crime scene investigation, paralegal and forensic science technician.

Criminology focuses on the study of crime and criminals, the motivation behind the crime, the consequences and any theories for prevention. Criminology is a sub-group of sociology as it incorporates an array of fields of study including biology, penology, psychology and statistics.

This degree allows students to gain insight into criminal behaviour on individual, natural and social levels, and how it can be controlled and managed. The term criminology was first coined in Italy in 1885.

What A Levels do I need?

There are no specific A-Levels required, although some courses may ask for a Maths GCSE – to help with the statistics side of the degree. Sociology or Psychology A-Levels may be an advantage, although institutions are interested in the grades that students hold. Students who display a keen interest in social studies and the criminal justice system will appeal touniversity. You can search UK courses here and search Forensic Sciences courses here.

Institutions typically ask for around 280 UCAS tariff points, ranging from BCC upwards, however, the higher the university and course are on the league table, the higher the university entry requirements tends to be.

Students are advised to check with their chosen universities and desired courses to guarantee that they understand the entry requirements needed for admission. It’s always recommended that students visit universities at open days, it provides the students with a feel for student life at that university.

criminology degree job

What are my study options?

Criminology (or other courses titled Criminal Justice, and similar) are available in Bachelor’s of Arts, and Bachelor’s of Science degrees, depending on the university. Modules will also vary depending on the institution; it is a good idea for students to conduct a lot of research into the modules on offer during the degree course, to ensure that they are completing studies that they are interested in, as well as studying areas that will help employment opportunities.

Criminology is often studied as a joint honours degree, typically Sociology or Psychology, however, there is an array of options for students who wish to study two subjects at university – such as Anthropology or Law.

Examples of degrees within criminology include; BSc Criminology, BSc Applied Social Science, BSc Criminology with a Modern Foreign Language (German, Spanish), and BSc Sociology and Criminology.

What should I expect from studying Criminology?

There is a high level of module options for students during their studies which may be difficult to become accustomed to at first, but will get easier, and prove helpful in the final year when picking topics for a dissertation. The variety of modules will allow students to pick the right modules that interest them or wish to specialise in for job prospects, this will vary between institutions which is why choosing the right university and course can help tailor a degree to a student’s preferences.

How will I be assessed?

There is a range of work that counts towards a final degree classification, and other work which is designed to enhance learning and studying for students but is not carry any weight in your final degree grade.

The majority of assessments are essay based on written examinations, with a dissertation or research project for the final year module assessment.

One of the main reasons students choose to study a criminology degree is to go into the police force as a constable, sergeant, or as a detective.

What skills will I learn from studying Criminology?

Criminology degrees allow students to gain transferable skills in presentation, research, communication, time management, organisation and social skills and awareness through coursework, presentations and group work.

Why study Criminology?

Crime and behaviour are fascinating, and many questions can be answered through the studying of criminology and criminal justice.

The degree offers an in-depth look into theories behind crime and deviance, exploring the criminal justice system, look at modern crime and punishment and studying the connection between law-breaking and the construction of those laws.

What happens after I graduate?

Students do not need to have a specific career in mind (although it may help) when they begin studying criminology as the vast amount of modules will help them decide what they wish to do. Criminology offers students skills such as research methods, problem-solving, social awareness and critical thinking which can be applied to many career sectors or postgraduate options.

Will it help me get a job?

Typical employers for graduates of criminology can include prison services, charities, home office, law practices and the police force.

What can I study after Criminology?

Examples include; MSc Forensic Psychology, MA Criminal Justice, MA Criminological Psychology or MA in Criminology.

Criminology degrees are sought after by several professional organisations such as the British Society of Criminology.

Famous Criminology studies alumni

Dan Aykroyd, from Ghostbusters, studied Criminology and Sociology at Carlton University but sadly dropped out before finishing.

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