Our course gives you an excellent understanding of the global patterns increasingly found in criminal justice policies and criminal offences. We take a social view of crime, a view which links crime to issues of power, resources, rights, (in)equality, governance and culture. This leads us to ask, for example, why certain groups of people are more likely than others to become offenders, why certain kinds of offenders are more likely than others to be caught, how some governments commit ‘state crime’ and why so many people are simultaneously fearful of, yet fascinated by, crime.
Crucially, you also have the opportunity to spend either a term or a full academic year studying in the United States, so you can explore and become immersed in American culture.
The degree is built to be extremely flexible and student-led, and as you progress through the course you can choose from an enormous range of options from across the humanities and social sciences, including:
- Contemporary social issues, such as the struggles for racial justice
- The legacies of slavery and the civil rights movement
- Environmental protection of the ‘wilderness’ of the Far West
- Native American histories and rights
- Organised crime, surveillance and counter-terrorism
- Environmental harm
- Visual criminology
- Social history and crime
Based within our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC), American studies offers a truly multidisciplinary approach, giving you knowledge of the many ways to understand key areas of the American experience. You draw on multiple perspectives in order to reach a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, opening up exciting possibilities to discover the American continent. The cities, vast open plains, mountains and deserts shape diverse and intriguing ways of life.
By encouraging you to think and operate across traditional boundaries, our course has produced confident, assertive and intelligent graduates who have become successful in many professional fields.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Our expert staff
We are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. As well as being one of the UK’s leading universities for social science and the highest ranking institution for political science, Essex academics are world leaders in human rights and pioneers in the literature and arts of the Americas.
Our American studies staff teach in departments across the university, and specialise in a wide range of topics including American history, law, literature, film, politics, and sociology.
Current research is exploring American politics and the electorate, cinematic images of the American Pacific, politics and land rights of the native Innu of Labrador in Canada, civil rights and African American history, and American crime fiction.
All our criminology staff are actively researching at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines and bring the very latest research findings into the classroom. All are prominent writers and the criminology team collectively authored the best-selling criminology textbook, ‘Criminology: A Sociological Introduction’, used on undergraduate courses across the country.
Our staff have worked at local, national and international level with bodies like local councils, the Home Office, Amnesty International and the United Nations.
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of its kind in Europe
- Attend an exciting programme of events
- Our Centre for Criminology hosts expert speakers and practitioners
- Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
- Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates
Graduates from our BA Criminology and American Studies can be attractive to employers both inside and outside the criminal justice sector because of their well-developed critical thinking and analytical skills.
Careers linked to criminology are varied. Our course provides excellent training for work within the criminal justice system and beyond. Our recent graduates have gone onto pursue careers in a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- Institute of Public Finance
- Guardian Professional
- Home Office
- Synergy Healthcare Research
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- You can study abroad at a wide range of excellent partner universities across the US.
- You are taught by a team of experts who are internationally recognised in their fields.
- We’re ranked 6th in the UK for criminology (Guardian University Guide 2021).
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about modules on your year abroad.
- American Studies modules taught through one-hour lectures plus one-hour classes of about twenty students
- Spend either a term or a full year experiencing the American education system
- Criminology teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience, with a focus on discussion and problem-solving
- Other Criminology modules include lab sessions to improve technical research skills
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
- Criminology assessment weighting is 50% coursework and 50% examinations
- Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you