MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Would you like to understand the causes and control of crime?

Enquire: 023 8201 5066

Are you fascinated by criminology? Hoping to increase your suitability for higher level positions within the criminal justice sector? Southampton Solent University’s postgraduate criminology and criminal justice programme will help you to develop an advanced understanding of the contemporary issues and debates surrounding criminal justice institutions, crime and criminal punishment.  

  • The course is delivered by an experienced course team with established links to criminal justice agencies, private businesses and charities.
  • The teaching team are active researchers and have contributed internationally renowned research projects.
  • Students study contemporary and comparative criminology, criminal justice and essential human science research skills.
  • Students can also tailor the degree to their own unique career ambitions, picking from optional units in penology, international policing, historic crime, drugs and terror security.
  • Optional study trips are available throughout the year, including an unfunded visit to the USA.
  • The course concludes with a final research project, where students will research and write a unique dissertation under the guidance of a specialist supervisor.
  • Many students focus their dissertation on the area of criminology in which they would like to work, using it to demonstrate their knowledge to employers after graduation.
  • Students benefit from small class sizes and regular one-to-one support.

The industry

Whether you want to work in the social support and welfare sector, in the justice system or with relevant charities - your understanding of criminology and criminal justice will give you the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

This is an essential degree for many careers in these sectors, but can also help with a range of roles in other industries. These include various applied and research-based roles that focus on helping people with social or personal issues and supporting the rehabilitation of offenders.

The programme

Students on Southampton Solent University’s postgraduate criminology and criminal justice programme study the core curriculum alongside a choice of two specialist units. This chance to specialise is important, helping students to orient their knowledge towards specific roles in the criminal justice sector. 

This programme also encourages students to develop a range of transferable interpersonal and verbal communication skills through presentations, role-plays, debates, interviews and group work. These competencies are valued in a wide range of industries.

To find out more about the content of each specific unit, please see the ‘course content’ tab.
Enrichment activities and learning opportunities are available alongside the core curriculum, giving students the chance to learn from guest speakers, visit criminal justice organisations and network at industry events. These additional activities help to provide detailed insights into the criminal justice system and the careers it offers. Past speakers have come from the police, courts, prisons, probation services, youth justice services and cyber security firms. 

The course team themselves have had extensive experience of the criminal justice system and its related disciplines, providing students with unique personal insights. The ties they have with the professional world have helped past students secure volunteer placements, temporary paid work, work shadowing weeks and internships.

Next steps

Would you like to improve your career prospects within the criminal justice sector? With an expert teaching team, strong links with industry and a curriculum, tailored to suit your ambitions, Southampton Solent University’s postgraduate criminology and criminal justice programme could be the ideal next step towards your dream career.

Have you got a question about applying?


Don't just take our word for it...

Jamie Curry
Ruth Curtis
Paul Stickler
Natalia Sabadas
Adrian Kingswell
"The MSc course is brilliant and being taught in small groups means that the learning can be tailored to your interests."
  More from Jamie
"The MSc has enabled me to build upon my skills and knowledge in a specialised area."
  More from Ruth
"An excellent course which I can recommend to aspiring and established practitioners in the criminal justice area."
  More from Paul
"The theoretical and practical perspectives have provided me with an insight and the baseline knowledge in Criminology which I am now able to apply in my current employment."
  More from Natalia
"What I gained through the MSc was understanding the 'why'."
  More from Adrian

Other courses you might be interested in


  • 1 Year Standard entry


  • 2 Years Standard entry

Typical entry requirements

An honours degree at 2:2 or above



During the first and second terms, you will study core and option units. You will plan, research and write your dissertation during the third term and over the summer.

Contemporary and Comparative Criminology: This unit focuses on contemporary criminological debate. You will learn how to connect criminological theory with contemporary developments, such as globalisation, and examine the various issues in the international study of criminology.

Contemporary and Comparative Criminal Justice: You’ll examine how crime, criminal justice policy and practices have developed globally and how this, and cross-jurisdictional approaches to crime, affect criminal justice in England and Wales. You will also explore major international shifts in the justice process and the delivery of punishment.

Project Design and Professional Development: You’ll develop your knowledge of the theoretical and practical issues involved in research. You will look at various perspectives related to the fields of study and build your awareness of different methodologies.

Methods of Inquiry in the Human Sciences: This unit covers research skills and methods in the human sciences. You will learn about quantitative and qualitative investigative techniques and the broader epistemological framework. There is a central focus on research ethics and the application of research to policy and practice.

Master's Project/Dissertation: You will design, write and present a challenging 20,000-word project or dissertation in your chosen area. The theme will be agreed with your supervisor.

Two options (during the second term) from:

Contemporary Penology: You will gain a critical understanding of the consistencies, contradictions and conflicts in current penal policy. The unit also examines key discourses and debates on diversity and division centred on poverty, social exclusion, race, gender and age.

Comparative Legal Systems: You will gain a comprehensive understanding of legal systems, focusing on criminal law in the global context. The unit covers the history and development of comparative law as well as emerging challenges. You will look at the issues of global diversity and examine in-depth some of the major legal systems.

Comparative International Policing: This unit explores the international nature of policing. You’ll look at the globalised character of crime, which has led to co-operation, investigation and prevention beyond localised jurisdiction.

Political Violence, Terrorism and Security: You’ll learn about the history and contemporary nature of terrorism. Using historical case studies, you will consider the long-standing problem of defining terrorism. You will look at the root causes of terrorist conflicts, urban terrorism in western Europe, the birth of global terrorism, Al-Qaeda and the global war on terror.

Researching Historic and ‘True Crime’: This unit examines the cultural significance of criminal cases through a critical analysis of historic and ‘true crime’ representations. You will learn how to research criminal cases and their representations, using official and historical resources and popular narratives.

Drugs, Crime and Justice: You’ll study issues relating to illegal drugs in the global and domestic context. This includes: the development of drug controls and drug policy; the links between production, trafficking, organised crime and terrorism; and the nature and context of criminal justice interventions.

Teaching, learning and assessment

The course is taught through lectures, group work and projects, and supervision for independent writing and research.

You will be allocated a personal tutor and a dissertation research supervisor.

Work experience
Past students have completed a wide range of interesting and informative placements with:

  • the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office
  • the criminal justice sector (paid work)
  • witness and victim services
  • probation services
  • youth offending teams
  • voluntary positions in the criminal justice field.
You will participate in group work, independent writing and research, group projects and discussions. You will be assessed via a number of 3,500-word assignments and individual and group presentations, in addition to a 20,000-word dissertation.

Study abroad

We run an optional ten-day study trip to the USA during the Christmas break, with visits to the FBI and New Jersey State Police.

There will be opportunities to attend lectures and share views and ideas with students at Ocean County College and Monmouth University. Please note this trip is not included in your tuition fees, and you’ll need to cover your travel and living costs.

Other study trip opportunities may also be available.

Web-based learning

Solent’s virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.


  • 1 Year Standard entry


  • 2 Years Standard entry

What do we offer?

From a vibrant city centre campus to our first class facilities, this is where you can find out why you should choose Solent.

With this internationally respected qualification, you’ll be well placed to pursue a variety of career opportunities.

Past graduates have pursued careers in police management, international law enforcement, the National Offender Management Service, financial security and academia.

Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Prison service
  • Police
  • Probation
  • Courts
  • Drugs services
  • Security
  • Public and private sector security and investigation
  • Local government community safety

Links with industry

We welcome regular guest lecturers who provide a detailed insight into working in the criminal justice sector and prospective career opportunities.

Recent speakers have included:

  • serving and former police detectives in the Metropolitan and Hampshire Police
  • serving chief officers from Hampshire and Dorset Police
  • judges and magistrates
  • staff from the National Crime Agency, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the National Offender Management Service and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Transferable skills

You will gain a detailed understanding of criminological issues, which can be applied to many different careers. You will also develop your research and critical analysis skills and gain experience in communication, teamwork and leadership.

Further study

The MSc provides a solid foundation for subsequent research at MPhil and PhD level.


Key facts


Location of study: East Park Terrace

Study mode: Full-time, Part-time

Entry requirements

  • An honours degree at 2:2 or higher in an area related to criminology, and/or an equivalent professional qualification.
  • Other qualifications/experience will be considered if you can also demonstrate graduate-equivalent knowledge, abilities and skills.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you are capable of undertaking research. 

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.5 overall with minimum of 6.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in reading, listening and speaking
  • TOEFL IBT 92 with minimum of 22 in writing and a minimum of 19 in reading, listening and speaking - TOEFL is only valid for EU students
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a Pre-Sessional English Language Course for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Note to all international students requiring a visa:

All international applicants need to be aware that the English language requirements to attend Southampton Solent University, and the English language requirements to obtain a visa from the Home Office, may be different. This means that if you meet the Southampton Solent University language requirement to gain a place on the course, you may still have to meet additional requirements to be granted with a visa by the Home Office.

We strongly advise all applicants to visit the Home Office website which outlines all the requirements for a successful visa application and to take a look at this PDF document which outlines both Solent University and Home Office requirements for a number of language tests.  

Non-standard entry

If you do not have these qualifications or are unsure of your eligibility please contact the University using the contact details found at the top of this page.

Costs involved


Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2016/2017 academic year are:

UK and EU full-time fees: £5,665

International full-time fees: £12,380

UK and EU part-time fees, year one: £1,895 

UK and EU part-time fees, year two: £3,790

International part-time fees: Please contact us for information

Graduation costs 

Graduation is the ceremony to celebrate the achievements of your studies. For graduates in 2015, there is no charge to attend graduation, but you will be required to pay for the rental of your academic gown (approximately £42 per graduate, depending on your award). You may also wish to purchase official photography packages, which range in price from £15 to £200+. Graduation is not compulsory, so if you prefer to have your award sent to you, there is no cost.

For more details, please visit:

How to apply


Applications for postgraduate courses can be made at any time prior to the start of the course. However, we strongly recommend you apply at your earliest convenience.

Please ensure you upload the following mandatory documents with your application.

  • Two academic references
  • Certified transcripts of qualifications, including English language proficiency if non-UK student
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of current visa (if applicable)
  • A personal statement
  • Employer sponsor form where appropriate

To apply please click the link below and complete the online application form.

Apply for full-time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Apply for part-time MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Solent alumni could be eligible for up to a 50% reduction of tuition fees if returning to study a postgraduate course. The discount applied will be dependent on your undergraduate degree classification as follows:

Solent Alumni with a:
• First (1.1) will be offered a 50% discount to study at PG level
• 2.1 or 2.2 will be offered a 20% discount to study at PG level

The discount applied will be based on the most recently completed course.

If you are currently a student at Southampton Solent University and are continuing on without a break in your studies, your discount will be automatically applied on your return.

If are not following directly on from a course at Southampton Solent University, but have studied with us in previous years, you will need to register for the alumni discount.

Click here to register or to find out more. 

Student support and services


Student welfare

Southampton Solent University is committed to giving you the best possible educational experience during your time with us. As such we have a number of support services and policies set up covering funding, careers and employability, chaplaincy, counselling, international advice, student affairs, key academic skills, disability support and general student advice. Find out more about our approach to student welfare.

University facilities

You will have access to a modern, comfortable and efficient environment in which to study, following our extensive refurbishment and modernisation over recent years. Some key facilities include Mountbatten library, a wide variety of sports and watersports facilities, plus superb IT and media facilities. Find out more about our first-class facilities here.

Living in Southampton

Southampton is a vibrant student city and studying at Solent means that you will be at the very heart of the action. Find out more about being a student in Southampton.

Solent Students’ Union

Run by students for students, Solent Students’ Union is a key part of any student’s time at Solent. Visit the Students’ Union website for more information.



  • 1 Year Standard entry


  • 2 Years Standard entry