Department of Sociology and Criminology

Undergraduate study

An undergraduate student of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Essex.

Welcome to the Department of Sociology and Criminology

Steeped in history, The Department of Sociology and Criminology at Essex has been an integral part of the landscape of British sociology since 1964. 

The Department is now a landmark in its' own right – representing a pinnacle of sociological and criminological expertise. From the student riots of the 1960s to the world-leading research of today, the Department has sparked some of the pivotal moments in the discipline for over 60 years. We continue to pioneer some of the brightest students and most prominent researchers in sociology and criminology today.

We welcome you to join our friendly Department and discover more about this legendary destination for rebel thinkers, curious minds, and free spirits.


Explore our courses
Why choose Essex?
Study with renowned sociologists and criminologists Training successful graduates since 1964 Our work influences government, think tanks and policy makers We ensure you are career ready Your wellbeing is our priority One of the first Sociology Departments in the UK
Study with renowned sociologists and criminologists

Undergraduate study with a difference

We invite you to take a trip with us and explore this distinguished destination for sociology and criminology undergraduates. The Department provides a home away from home to budding sociologists and criminologists across the globe. We host everything from personal tutoring to lively study groups, bespoke career support classes, bold debates, and fascinating lectures. We offer an engaging backdrop to your degree and a host of resources to help you excel as a future change-maker.

A portrait of Dr Tara Mahfoud.
"Our undergraduate programme will expand your imagination. By critically interrogating the world, by asking why things are as they are, why systems benefit some and disadvantage others, we think about our collective future, our values and ideals, so we can build a better world."
Dr Tara Mahfoud Director of First year Undergraduate Studies Department of Sociology and criminology

How we support your undergraduate study

When you join the Department of Sociology and Criminology, you join a supportive and welcoming academic community. Whether you're living at home, in halls of residence, or visiting us from abroad, we will champion you every step of the way. Your tutors will be on hand to ensure you receive the encouragement and support you need to achieve your goals.

That's why we've designed several initiatives to ensure you get the most out of your studies. These include:

Sociology and Criminology Study Support Centre:

The Sociology and Criminology Study Support Centre provides bespoke student support throughout the academic year. Uniquely available to students of the Department, the Centre offers one-to-one and group sessions to boost your study skills - ensuring you get the support you need, when you need it most.

The Centre is located in the heart of the Department and provides:

  • Private tutorials to boost your writing, referencing and comprehension skills
  • Academic skill workshops
  • Extra-curricular events exclusive to students of the Department
  • Dedicated study spaces for independent and group work
  • Free-to-use resources, including PCs and textbooks
  • A library of first-class dissertations written by previous students 

The Centre has a dedicated Study Support Manager, who is always on hand to support you with everything from academic performance to personal issues.

Enhanced data skills and Q-Step:

Sociology and Criminology undergraduates at Essex can gain an award in enhanced data skills.  The Q-Step pathway will help you gain skills and prove your ability to work in data-driven roles – an essential skill in high demand across many sectors.

Learn more about Q-Step

Dedicated personal tutors:

Upon joining the Department, you will pair with a personal tutor. Your tutor is an academic staff member within the Department, committed to guiding and supporting you throughout your studies.

Your tutor will contact you periodically during the academic year to check in with you. You can meet them in group settings or on a one-to-one basis. They can help you access a wide range of resources to ensure you succeed in your studies.

Peer-to-peer mentoring scheme:

Tutors are great, but sometimes you can't beat talking to someone in your shoes! That's why we host a peer-to-peer mentoring scheme.

You can access a peer mentor in your first year. They will be on hand to reassure you as you settle into University life. Peer mentors also host study groups and facilitate activities to ensure a welcoming start to the Department. It's a fantastic way to receive informal support, meet your peers, and connect with others with similar interests.

When you reach your second and third years of study, you can become a volunteer mentor to boost your C.V. and help fellow students. Your Higher Education Achievement Report will reflect your voluntary mentorship upon graduation.

University support for your studies:

The University has a dedicated collection of online and in-person resources to help bolster your study skills. Whether you need help with your writing, assistance with research skills, or English language support, the Skills for Success team will be on hand to help you.

Learn more about Skills for Success

Exclusive library resources for undergraduate sociologists and criminologists:

Students in the Department will find several fascinating study resources at the Albert Sloman Library at the University of Essex. These include:

  • A dedicated Liaison Librarian to help you navigate and access the library resources you need
  • A curated subject guide for students to introduce you to a vast range of resources relating to your degree

Visit the Albert Sloman Library

How we develop your future career

A degree from the Department of Sociology and Criminology can lead to fascinating and diverse career paths. That is why we place employability at the heart of everything we do. We want you to graduate with a clear and brilliant vision for your future. The Department hosts several initiatives to help you realise your career goals and provide the practical support and skills you need to achieve them. They include:

Career workshops:

Whether you need help writing the very best CV or advice on how to get the most out of a networking event, we host workshops throughout the year to help you prepare for that first job interview.

The Department also hosts regular career talks by industry experts. You can meet high-profile guest speakers as they share career insights with you. Previous guests have included:

  • Crime Scene Investigator, Essex Police
  • Head of Safeguarding, Essex County Council
  • Detective Chief Inspector, Metropolitan Police Service
  • Organisational Intelligence Analyst, Colchester Borough Council
  • Head of Safeguarding, Suffolk County Council
  • International Lead (COVID Taskforce), The Cabinet Office 

Career modules:

Each undergraduate course includes an exciting employability module to help you realise your fullest career potential. With many possibilities open to graduates of sociology and criminology, we want to equip you with the knowledge and awareness to maximise opportunities in your chosen field. 

We ensure our teaching goes beyond the theoretical. Our career-focused modules will prepare you for life after graduation, providing insights into the job market and the chance to develop a definitive plan for your future.

Placement and internship opportunities:

Having experience is often a prerequisite for many job applications. That is why we offer many placement and internship opportunities, so you can get the experience you need to stand out.

Our students have previously completed successful placements in diverse and applicative settings, including:

  • Colchester Borough Homes - students have worked on projects including anti-social behaviour and outreach with the homeless
  • Local schools
  • University of Essex Communications team
  • HARP - a homeless charity in Southend
  • Refugee Action Colchester
  • Prison Advice and Care Trust, primarily London-based
  • Witness Service - volunteering at the Magistrate and Crown courts in Essex
  • Disability Advice Service, Ipswich
  • Interventions Alliance & Tailored Futures - organisations partnered with probation services to deliver support to prison leavers
  • The SOS Bus - a harm-reduction programme supporting the night time economy in Colchester
  • Colchester Neighbourhood Watch

Paid employment opportunities:

We recognise the cost of living away from home can be a real challenge, which is one of the reasons why the University of Essex provides an employment opportunities scheme so you can earn money during your studies and gain work experience.

Discover more about paid internships at Essex

A University careers service:

The University of Essex provides students with many exciting career and employability support services. They include:

  • Career mentorship
  • Paid employment opportunities to complement your studies
  • Assistance and advice for entrepreneurs
  • Industry career events and networking opportunities
  • Employability and career awards

Learn more about career support at Essex

How we support your personal wellbeing

Personal well-being and mental health are a top priority for the Department of Sociology and Criminology. We understand that University represents a time of immense personal change for students. Whether you have just left home feeling a little nervous or relocated from abroad - we recognise the challenges and support you every step of the way.

The Department can work with you to help you overcome everything from worries about finance to managing mental health and long-term illness. From the Study Support Manager to your personal tutor, we will work with you to access the help and support you need.

Learn more about student support at Essex
India Loveland, A-Level Sociology Teacher and award nominee, graduate of Sociology at University of Essex.
"Doing an employability module as part of my 1st year studies was really useful. I learned what employers want and how to sell my skills... I also attended workshops in interview and CV writing skills. These were particularly useful as I gained employment in my dream job!"
India Loveland, BA Sociology Sociology A-Level Teacher, Deputy Faculty Leader, Sixth Form College
Did you know?
  • Founded in 1964, the Department of Sociology and Criminology is one of the original Departments of the University of Essex. The Department has been blazing a trail for social justice and equality for over 60 years. 
  • The Department staff sometimes side-hustle as gigging musicians – on drums, bass, and piano! You can join us at many of the open mic nights in the pubs and bars of Colchester.
  • You might have spotted us in some of the world's biggest news and media outlets including; the Guardian, the BBC, Teen Vogue, the New York Times, Fortune and many more. Our work is often featured in documentaries, radio, the news, and sociology textbooks.

You might recognise us from...

Amelia Roberts who graduated from the Department of Sociology at Essex and works with Vision Housing Charity.
"The Department helped me to get a placement with Vision Housing at the charity Forward Trust. Without this initial help I wouldn't have known how to find my placement. I now work with vulnerable people, including ex-offenders, to find housing and help sustain their tenancy. It is a tough job but also hugely rewarding and I love every minute!"
Amelia Roberts, BA Criminology Housing mentor, Forward trust charity

Learn from renowned sociologists and criminologists 

The Department of Sociology and Criminology has housed some of the boldest and brightest minds in sociology and criminology since the 1960s. When you join the Department, you can work alongside some of the most renowned thinkers in the field today.

Our staff often feature in high profile media outlets, including:

  • BBC World News
  • Sky News
  • The Guardian
  • Vogue
  • Washington Post
  • New York Times
  • Radio France
  • The Hindu

Our work has informed public policy and leading think tanks on issues such as:

  • Immigration policy
  • Legislation on CCTV and police surveillance
  • Domestic violence legislation and reform
  • Advising the Victims’ Commissioner on the framing of Victims’ Law
  • Advising Interpol on international crime
  • Advising parliamentary bodies on refugee and asylum policy, most recently the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Join a supportive and diverse community 

The Department of Sociology and Criminology houses a culturally rich staff and student community. Our members come from all corners of the globe to study and work here.

We offer a warm and inviting home to all who join us, from undergraduates leaving home for the first time, to international students from afar; the Department of Sociology and Criminology welcomes all.

We acknowledge the diverse needs of our community and offer custom resources to ensure every student, regardless of background, feels included and supported. Among them are:

Vibrant campus learning (and online recordings so you do not miss out):

When you join Essex, you will become part of a friendly and approachable learning community with face-to-face learning at its core. Our lectures are delivered on-campus, in-person and online. We understand the occasional missed lecture is unavoidable, so we provide online audio recordings of seminars - just in case.

The Department of Sociology and Criminology thrives upon in person moments on campus designed to support your journey. From one-to-one meetings with tutors to study groups and from welcome week to graduation, our belief in creating memorable experiences built upon supportive relationships is the cornerstone of our learning community.

Bespoke support services for undergraduate students:

In the Department of Sociology and Criminology, we champion every student and consciously work to support each individual. We provide a wealth of resources to ensure every student feels supported and represented - no matter your background or personal circumstance. We work with each student to access University services such as:

  • Help with fees and funding
  • Assistance with accommodation
  • Student and study support
  • Language support
  • International student support services
  • Mature student support services

A collaborative approach to learning:

We understand you need the freedom to voice your thoughts about your educational experiences. That's why the Department of Sociology and Criminology engages in the Student Voice - a university-led programme for students to share their opinions with elected student representatives.

This collaborative process ensures you can voice your opinion and actively engage with your community. Whether you want to give us feedback on your teaching modules or roverall student experience, we are ready to listen and respond.

Get involved in extra curricular activities away from the lecture hall

The Department of Sociology and Criminology is lively and fun - a great place to learn and socialise. We know that getting a degree is not just about the qualification - we want our students to immerse themselves in the student experience. We encourage our students to enjoy as many extracurricular events as possible. These include:

Student clubs, societies, and the Student Union:

The University of Essex hosts over 120 different student societies and many more clubs to choose from. Student societies and clubs are a great way to find friends and meet new people with similar interests or religious or cultural backgrounds.

Discover more about our student community

The Student Union (SU) at Essex also provide exciting events throughout the year, from firework displays to big nights out - they host a packed calendar of events for you to enjoy. The SU also provides fantastic student support services and can help you with everything from volunteering opportunities to friendly advice.

Visit the Student Union at Essex

Colchester City and London:

The University of Essex is a bus ride away from the city centre of Colchester. Colchester was the first capital city of Roman Britain, and it is still pretty lively today! You can find vibrant nightlife, shops, restaurants, art galleries, a castle, music venues, and many more places to enjoy. London is less than an hour away by train, so you can easily visit and explore.

The University also hosts many discounted travel schemes, sustainable travel initiatives, car parking and cycling facilities to help you get around.

Visit transport at the University of Essex

Department hosted events:

The Department of Sociology and Criminology hosts and arranges a busy calendar of events throughout the academic year. With everything from seminars by thought-provoking external speakers to Department mixers and student conferences, we provide plenty of opportunities to meet your peers and tutors. You can find Department events by visiting the Department events calendar.

Visit the Department events calendar
Natasha Scanlon, graduate of the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex.
"I felt instantly at home when I came to look around the University of Essex. It was also one of the best universities for my chosen subject of Sociology. I really enjoyed my modules that focused on race, social inequality and education. I enjoyed the honest and open debate and I had lecturers that truly inspired me "
Natasha Scanlon, BA Sociology Primary School Teacher
How do we rank?
  • We're ranked 10th in the UK for Sociology and 59th globally in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2023)
  • 1st for research environment in Sociology (Grade Point Average, Research Excellence Framework 2021)
  • 11th for Social Sciences in the UK in THE World University Rankings by Subject 2024
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A block of flats
Contact us
Department of Sociology and Criminology University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 873275
University of Essex Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex