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BA Criminology

Why we're great

  • Our Criminology Centre draws together leading academics from across the UK.
  • You are taught by the staff who conduct the research and write the books.
  • We pioneered sociologically informed approaches to criminology.

Course options2017-18

BA Criminology Full-time

UCAS code: M900
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Sociology
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: M901
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Sociology
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: M904
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Sociology
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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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.

Study abroad

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.

Placement year

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.

Specialist facilities

  • 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

Your future

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
  • United
  • 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.

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Example structure

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.

Year 1

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.

Year 2

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.

Final year

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.

Discover how questions of childhood and youth have driven wider debates in criminology and sociology. Ask why, how, and with what, effects children and young people have been constructed as subjects with rights, relational citizens with needs, offenders to be reformed or punished, and victims to be protected. Explore children and young people’s experiences of (il)legal youth cultures, systems of youth justice, education, child protection, family intervention and other efforts to counter social exclusion.

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.

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. 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

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

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.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

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.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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