How do we understand crime? How can it be prevented? Why should crime be punished? How can harms be restored? What shapes criminal law in principle and in practice? Criminologists and lawyers engage with some of the most pressing issues, decisions and dilemmas facing societies today. This course explores the nature of crime, criminal law and criminal justice within wider social contexts.
As a student of criminology and law, you experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests. Our flexible course means that you can study an exciting range of topics including:
- Cyber crime
- Terrorism and illegal migration
- Criminal justice and public policy
- Principles of criminal law
You receive training in criminological research methods including how to design a survey, how to map crime hotspots, conduct interviews and focus groups. You are also introduced to legal research methods.
You’re taught by criminologists and sociologists based in our Department of Sociology, and we are 16th for criminology (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021). We’re also ranked among the top 50 departments, and 7th in the UK in the QS World Rankings by Subject (2020).
You have the opportunity to gain practical experience and to pursue a year studying abroad or completing a work placement which can help in future employment. You can also complete a supervised dissertation on a topic that inspires you, encouraging you to think differently and connect with live issues and debates, preparing you for your graduate career.
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.
You can also undertake a placement year in which you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our placements team.
Our expert staff
You may already be familiar with our academics before you meet them in lectures.
Our academics believe in doing research that matters and makes a difference; whether it’s the battle between big data and human rights or the policing of sex workers, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.
As well as publishing core texts and bestselling books, our academics often appear on TV and radio. Recent examples include Professor Mike Roper on The Psychology of War for the BBC World Service and Professor Pam Cox in her BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter. Others engage with politics and policy making, such as those running our specialist centres for Migration Studies and Criminology.
- Our Centre for Criminology hosts expert speakers and practitioners
- A unique Student Study Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
- The common room is open all day Monday-Friday, has a hot drinks vending machine, water cooler and microwave as well as a small number of lockers available
- 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
- Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
- Participate in mooting competitions to develop your skills
- Test your mediation and negotiation skills in our Client Interviewing Competition
- Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
- Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, and Bar Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
Careers linked to criminology and criminal law are varied. Our courses provide an excellent training for work within the criminal justice system, for example as community safety officers, risk assessors, court managers, and researchers, paralegals, police officers, probation officers and youth workers.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- The Institute of Public Finance
- Guardian Professional
- Synergy Healthcare Research
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
- Home Office
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’re ranked 18th in the UK for criminology (Guardian University Guide 2022)
- You’re taught by expert staff who conduct the research and write the books used across the country
- You gain a unique perspective in both criminology and law
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.
- Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience, with a focus on discussion and problem-solving
- Lab sessions to improve technical research skills
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
- Weighting is 50% coursework and 50% examinations
- Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you