About the course
How do we understand crime? How can it be prevented? Why should crime be punished, and how should we go about it? Criminologists engage with some of the most pressing issues, decisions and dilemmas facing societies today. On our course you explore the nature of crime, criminal justice and punishment within wider social contexts.
As a student of criminology, 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, from the impact of computer games on crime, to terrorism and illegal migration, to policing and controlling society.
We are a large and friendly department, offering a range and diversity of research interests, with staff members who are committed to teaching, research and publication. We have leading international experts in the areas of:
- Organised crime, surveillance and counter-terrorism
- Environmental harm
- Visual criminology
- Social history and crime
You'll receive training in criminological methods – how to design a survey, conduct an interview, and use quantitative analysis from basic statistic to big data – in order to ask the difficult questions, and will also have the opportunity to complete a supervised dissertation on a topic that inspires you.
Our BA Criminology is run by the Department of Sociology, which is rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014). We consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores, including 91% overall student satisfaction in 2014.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education through providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, 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.
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 Employability and Careers Centre.
Training social scientists of the future
We offer you the opportunity to follow a specialised pathway that embeds quantitative methods in your degree. Successful completion of specified modules entitles you to receive the qualifier ‘(Applied Quantitative Methods)’ at the end of your degree title, for example BA Sociology (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also receive student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.
Our expert staff
Criminology at Essex is led by Professor Nigel South, Professor Eamonn Carrabine, Professor Pamela Cox, Professor Pete Fussey, Dr Darren Thiel, Dr Jackie Turton and Dr Isabel Crowhurst.
Our lecturing staff are actively researching at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines and wherever possible 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 Centre for Criminology hosts expert speakers and practitioners
- 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
Careers linked to criminology 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, 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 Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore 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 just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.
Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.
What research methods do sociologists use? And what are the methodologies underpinning them? Wish to learn how to critically evaluate social research? And receive training in collecting quantitative and qualitative data? We study the principles of social science investigation and how to carry out original research.
What are different forms of crime? What is the role of criminal justice? And how effective are penal sanctions? We provide a critical introduction to the problem of, and responses to, crime. You examine the history of criminological ideas, Britain’s criminal justice system, and current debates on crime and control.
How can sociology help you understand the world in which you live? What are some of the major features and trends in present-day societies? Using sociological tools, you analyse key features of different societies, such as stratification, poverty, racism, consumption, multinational corporations, religion, and the gender division of labour in low-income countries.
Does the media make people violent? Objectify women? Tell you what to do? Study the modern media as a social terrain, order of communication and domain of ideas, using examples from cinema, photography, newspapers and TV. Examine popular debates and consider practical methodologies for undertaking media research in the future.
What methods are used in carrying out empirical sociological research? How do you critically analyse approaches to social research? And what are the skills required to undertake such research? We introduce the statistical foundations for empirical research and methods of analysis for qualitative data, building practical skills for your final-year project.
You will examine key theories and trends in criminological thought, including the historical development of criminology and some of the more recent critiques. The themes of causation, criminalisation, correction and control run throughout the theoretical perspectives and are considered alongside some specific examples of criminal activity and organisation. Examples range from the individually-experienced through the structural inequalities relevant to understanding gender, ethnicity and crime and include the global dimensions.
What is wrong with using punishment as a criminal justice institution? How is punishment a social phenomenon? What are the formal elements of punishment? And how does punishment fit into our wider social world? Study the problem of punishment in a philosophical, social and contemporary context.
What are the problems with class analysis? And how can you understand citizenship rights? Are they useful for analysing inclusion and exclusion, how do they relate to gender, and where does migration fit into the picture? Build your understanding of race, class and gender by learning more about how these concepts relate to social inequality, rights and identity.
Want to focus on your own topic? Keen to conduct research and write up original work? Your project can range from empirical research to theoretical studies, with guidance from your supervisor. The eventual success of your research will depend on the ideas that you develop, plan and undertake.
What effect does globalisation have on crime and justice? How do we deal with global crime issues, like terrorism or illegal migration? Can we prevent large-scale crime, such as genocide? Study the changing nature of criminology, looking at contemporary developments, alongside the problem of balancing human rights with human security.
How has our modern police force evolved? What can you do about over-policing? Or about under-policing? Study the concepts and theories around policing and society. Examine key debates regarding policing in contemporary society, looking at the policing of particular issues (like terrorism) and the policing of various demographics.
Should criminal justice systems only manage offenders and victims? What wider role could they play in securing social justice? Explore the history of criminal justice and examine key theories within an international dimension. Find out how our current criminal justice policies are framed, funded and fought out.
How has the concept of mental health been developed by psychiatrists? What role do genetic, psychological, social and cultural factors play in causing mental illness? How has mental health treatment developed? Critically examine mental illness, psychiatric thinking and practice, and mental health services, using real-life examples in your debates.
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 on modules in your year abroad.
- 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
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
IELTS entry requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)
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.
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.