Criminology BSc (Hons)

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Course starts: 16 September 2019Apply now

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Understand the reasons for, and society's responses to, crime. Develop a speciality in the strand of criminology which most interests you. Graduate with the knowledge and skills you need for a fulfilling career in an essential field.

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Course overview

Do you want to think differently about the world you live in; gain experience in relevant organisations; and graduate equipped to help change society for the better? Studying BSc (Hons) Criminology will help you achieve this.

The course provides you with an understanding of the causes of crime and victimisation. You will also make sense of behaviour by studying the criminal justice system and punishment. You will begin to understand how characteristics such as race, gender, age and social class relate to individuals' experiences of crime, victimisation and justice.

This course provides an excellent foundation for a career in a number of criminal justice agencies, including the police, probation or prison services.

Why us?

  • Our Sociology courses (which includes Criminology) are in the top 10 in the UK for Satisfaction with teaching according to The Guardian University league tables 2018
  • Our Sociology courses (which include BSc (Hons) Criminology) are in the top 25% for Learning opportunities and Assessment and feedback, according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • Applied research methods – we offer training in computer-assisted data analysis software
  • Variety of specialist optional pathways
  • Applied route in criminology and criminal justice – we offer an optional 84-hour work placement, visits to courts and prisons, talks from practitioners, and links into practice through volunteering opportunities
  • Many teaching staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy
  • Teaching staff are research-active, which enhances the curriculum and student experience
  • The University of Sunderland was ranked 12th in the Courses and Lecturers category of the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019

Course structure

You will be able to develop specialities in criminology in the areas which most interests you and graduate with the knowledge and skills you need for a fulfilling career. These specialist pathways include: policing, surveillance and crime prevention; inequality, diversity and gender-based violence; psychology, mental health and offending; race, racism and criminal justice; and young people, crime and justice.

The additional pathway of 'applied criminology' allows you to undertake a placement in criminology. From this, you will gain valuable work experience. Furthermore, as part of the 'applied' pathway, you will have the opportunity to visit a criminal court or prison, as well as hear from practitioners. Finally, you are able to take advantage of ample volunteering opportunities offered to you, in relevant work organisations.

This course is taught via lectures, seminars, group work, computer-based learning, and independent study.

Your progress will be assessed with written coursework, research projects, presentations, and exams. Throughout the degree you'll have one-to-one support from academic staff.

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. all modules are taught during the day, and you will be studying alongside full-time students. 

Year 1 (national level 4):

Core modules:

  • Patterns and Trends in Crime and Victimisation (20 credits)
  • Social Problems (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice (20 credits)
  • Applied Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences (20 credits)
  • Classical Readings in Criminology (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Crime, Surveillance and Social Control (20 credits)
  • Inequality, Diversity and Society (20 credits)
  • Exploring Psycho-Social Theory (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules:

  • Theoretical Issues in Criminology (20 credits)
  • Applied Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences (20 credits)
  • Offender Management in Criminal Justice (20 credits)
  • Policing Past, Present and Future(s) (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Gender, Diversity and Human Rights: Global Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Youth, Crime and Criminology (20 credits)
  • Practical Application in Criminology (20 credits)
  • Counselling Approaches in Practice Settings (20 credits)
  • Working together to Safeguard Vulnerable Children, Young People and Adults (20 credits)
  • Medicalisation, Normality and the Body (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6):

Core modules:

  • Criminology Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Re-imagining Crime and Criminology (20 credits)
  • Punishment and Society (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Violence, Gender and Society (20 credits)
  • 'Race', Racialisation and the Criminal Justice System (20 credits)
    (From 2020/21, this module will be replaced by SSC336: Terrorism)
  • Justice for Young People (20 credits)
  • Substance use and Society (20 credits)
  • The Clinical Gaze: Medicine, Disability and Confinement (20 credits)
  • You'll have access to specialist software packages for social science. These include NVivo, which allows deep levels of analysis of large volumes of data, and SPSS, for surveys and data mining.

    You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

  • We’ve got thousands of relevant books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to- date academic and industry articles. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format.

    Library Services - general
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU and studying full-time
  • £6,935 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU and studying part-time
  • £12,000 if you are from outside the EU and studying full-time (part-time study is unavailable to international students)

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

Abbie Wallace BSc Criminology case study
Abbie Wallace, BSc (Hons) Criminology graduate, Ede Ravenscroft Prize winner


Many BSc (Hons) Criminology graduates develop careers in the police, probation and prison services, youth justice agencies, and crime and disorder reduction partnerships.

Graduates have also gone on to work at the civil service, local and central government, voluntary sector, and policy/research institutions.

From 2020, all new police officers in England and Wales will have to be educated to degree level.

Voluntary work and placements

You can choose to incorporate an 84-hour work placement in your degree. This is an excellent way to gain real-world experience, and can help you decide which career path to take.

We have links with a number of organisations which offer placements and voluntary work opportunities, including Northumbria Police, the Probation Service, HM Prison Service, youth offender teams, community rehabilitation companies, criminal courts, and victim support agencies. 

Meet the students

  • The modules were really interesting, made more so by excellent staff who couldn't do enough to help.
    Abbie Wallace BSc Criminology case study

    Abbie Wallace

  • I wouldn't want to study anywhere else as we have such a fabulous University here.
    Mandi Purvis

    Mandi Purvis

  • The course has changed my way of thinking, opening up my perspective of society as a whole.
    Olivia Preece

    Olivia Preece

  • The Criminology course at the University has been brilliant.
    Vivienne Harding Small

    Vivienne Harding

Meet the team

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