About the course
Explore the relationship between crime and the law, from the criminal justice system and issues with reoffenders, to crime in the media and the glamorisation of drugs.
Our MSc Criminology and Socio-Legal Research forms part of our ESRC Doctoral Training Centre accreditation and combines training in current debates in criminology with an introduction to legal theory and legal methods. It provides a good basis if you wish to conduct criminological research with a socio-legal dimension.
On this course you investigate topics including:
- Philosophy of law and jurisprudence
- Ripping, remixing, and viral culture
- Surveillance and punishment
- The English legal system
- Methods of social control
This course should also interest you if you are without a background in law, as we make good use of legal materials, in addressing our sociological and criminological research questions.
Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and we consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores, including 96% overall student satisfaction in 2015.
Our expert staff
We are a large and friendly department, offering a diverse range of research interests and with staff members who are committed to teaching, research and publication that covers a broad geographical spectrum.
Many have worked at the local level with local authorities, justice councils, community partnerships and charities. Others have worked at a national and international level with bodies like the United Nations, the European Commission’s Expert Group on Public Understanding of Science, Amnesty International, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Home Office and national non-governmental organisations.
- Dedicated postgraduate support facilities
- Our renowned off-campus Graduate Conference takes place every February
- A unique Student Resource Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
- The Sociology common room is open all day Monday-Friday, is stocked with daily newspapers, magazines and journals, and has free drinks 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
This course provides excellent preparation for further academic study, and many of our postgraduates go on to successful academic careers, both in the UK and overseas.
Others have established careers in non-governmental organisations, local authorities, specialist think tanks, government departments, charities, media production, and market intelligence.
We work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.
What interests you? Do you want to deepen your knowledge, build invaluable research skills and develop your academic freedom? Your dissertation lets you study a topic of your choosing, in depth, with supervision and guidance from our world-leading academics.
Want to undertake legal research at postgraduate level? Interested in studying the principal sources of law operating within the UK system? Understand the essential techniques required for working with judicial decisions and statutes. Build research skills for reading legal materials, and develop your interpretative and critical evaluation abilities.
In this module you’ll be introduced to legal theory, including the philosophy of law and jurisprudence. You’ll develop a working knowledge of the main schools of jurisprudence and will be able to deal with theoretical materials. By the end of the module you’ll be able to write a lucid, coherent account, using appropriate language, of a jurisprudential problem. Please note this module is not suitable for you if your main research topic is in legal theory.
How do you design social research for projects? Examine the research process, from forming initial research questions through to writing up your findings. Develop your own research ideas via the approaches discussed, building a critical perspective on empirical research that will help you with future research goals.
How do we understand crime in our increasingly globalised world? And what about forms of control and criminal justice policy? Critically examine criminological thought on globalisation, migration, policy convergence, punishment, and crimes against the state.
How do you critically analyse quantitative data? What are the appropriate statistical techniques for your research questions? And how do you interpret your results? Learn to conduct investigations relevant to your own research, as well as be a critical user of other research.
Do hackers have ethics? Who owns digital media? Is surveillance justified? Explore the history of the digital media economy, looking at hacking, digital media piracy and peer-to-peer networks. Build your understanding of the social, economic and cultural role that digital media now plays in developed Western societies.
- We have a strong research group culture
- Graduate students are encouraged to take part in our weekly Departmental Seminar which regularly features eminent outside speakers
- Your modules are assessed by coursework and your dissertation
- Your 15,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in-depth on your chosen topic from April onwards
- You work with close supervision from academic staff
UK entry requirements
A degree with an overall 2:1.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
IELTS entry requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.