BA Criminology and American Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Overview

Our five-year BA Criminology and American Studies (including foundation year and year abroad), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the four-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance.

This five-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study, plus a study abroad year or term. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.

You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre.

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.

Our criminology modules are taught by our Department of Sociology, which is rated Top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014).

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond our University campus. In your fourth year, you can spend either one term or one year abroad at one of the American universities with whom we have an exchange agreement.

We have exchange partners with fifteen excellent academic institutions across the United States, from New Mexico to Massachusetts, including upstate New York, the Deep South, Miami and California.

Studying abroad allows you to explore and become immersed in American culture, 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 have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.

In our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre 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.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials.
  • Our Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends.

Take advantage of our other extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:

  • 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

Your future

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
  • United

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

  • We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
  • Guarantee your place on your chosen course if you successfully complete your foundation year at Essex.
  • Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.

Structure

Course structure

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, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

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.

Year abroad

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.

Teaching

  • Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
  • A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
  • Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
  • Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention

Assessment

  • Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, book reviews, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects

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