Criminology (MSc)

Birkbeck, University of London, School of Law



The MSc in Criminology has been designed for those who wish to pursue advanced criminological study and explore some of the most cutting-edge ideas in contemporary criminology. The programme is open to graduates of various social science disciplines, and provides a multidisciplinary platform from which students will engage with the complexity of contemporary debates and challenges around crime and its control. It will appeal to those with a keen interest in security, crime and criminal justice, as well as those seeking to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the core issues facing criminal justice in the twenty-first century. It will also appeal to those who desire advanced knowledge and understanding of contemporary criminological theory and cutting-edge research methods, as well as those who wish to pursue a substantial, original research project of their own design.

As part of the core provision on the programme, you will learn about and critically engage with the most widely used contemporary criminological theories and approaches. This includes those which seek to explain crime and criminality in ways that are straightforward and useful for policy makers and practitioners, and those which seek to explicate the dramatic changes to criminal justice and the crime control apparatus over the past few decades. You will also be instructed in a wide range of research methods, and will be able to choose from an extensive list of nearly 30 option modules to complete your degree.


  • The School of Law is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research with a strong theoretical and policy focus. It is the home of Birkbeck Law Press and publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought.
  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top three in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • The School is the home of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research. Jessica Jacobson, its director, leads a team of outstanding researchers. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the Master's programme, participating in core and specialist modules and providing dissertation supervision.We use technology, such as electronic learning environments, to enhance teaching and learning. Birkbeck Library has an extensive teaching collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines, such as economics, politics and sociology. For example, it provides access to over 17,000 electronic journals, which are available online 24 hours a day. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal StudiesSenate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library
  • There are a limited number of bursaries available for students studying on this programme, which equate to a £2,000 fee reduction. Please contact the Programme Director for further details.
  • Applicants with a strong academic background may be eligible to apply for AHRC/ESRC awards (UK and EU-based applicants only). Candidates with an outstanding academic record who demonstrate high potential for strong performance on one of our Master's degrees can apply for School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards.

Please see website. 

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Graduates can pursue a career in law enforcement or corrections, policy analysis and policy making, in non-governmental organisations, international research institutions and think-tanks (eg UNODC), within various government departments and ministries, and in the media and criminal justice system more broadly.

Find more advice and information about law careers.

Read Joanna Perry, Hate Crimes Officer at the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), explaining how a Birkbeck Master's degree in law helped her build a successful career in criminal justice.


We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.


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