Criminology and Criminal Justice

Study crime, its causes and responses to offending

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

This established programme allows you to develop your understanding of criminological theories of offending and the extent of crime, enabling you to critically examine the role and function of the criminal justice and penal policy process, and the criminal justice policy-making context, in England and Wales. It has been specifically designed for graduates of criminology or other related degrees, for those with criminal justice career aspirations or those already working in the criminal justice arena at all levels.

Distance Learning Brochure

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Develop an understanding of the application of criminological and criminal justice principles to law enforcement and criminal justice agencies
  • Examine the treatment of disadvantaged communities and groups discriminated against, by and within, the criminal justice system
  • Shape your study to your interests through your choice of options and dissertation topic


All applicants should apply as soon as possible to reserve a place and ensure adequate preparations are made for the start of your studies. Late applications may be processed, but your course induction and start to studies may well be disrupted.

For further information, please contact Tom Ellis:

How do I apply?

Complete the University's online application form (not a UCAS form)

Nick Sandford Smith

I was fortunate enough to go straight from finishing my MSc to getting a job with the police. My studies while at Portsmouth have helped me develop my skills by giving me academic knowledge and abilities to write in a concise and clear way. Academic writing skills go hand-in-hand with the skills that you need to be able to work in a pressurised environment where being able to evidence the reasons for your actions and decisions is crucial.

Nick Sandford Smith, MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice 2014

Key Facts

1 year full time (campus-based), 2 years part time (distance learning)
2017 entry requirements
A second-class honours degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or training within the police or other criminal justice organisation. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5. Campus-based applicants require a minimum score of 6.0 in all individual components. Distance learning applicants require a minimum score of 6.0 in Reading and Writing components.

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry:

Full time: £4,700
Part time: £2,100 p/a * 

International students
2017/18 entry:

Full time: £12,600
Part time: £2,100 p/a * 

*Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

Full-time course is eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan
Part-time course is eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 3933
Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
Programme specification
Programme specification (PT, DL)


MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Academic staff and former students from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies talk about their experience of studying for a Master's degree.

Browse all courses in Law and Criminology

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

You will study the following core units:

  • Criminology Past and Present (30 credits)
  • Criminal Justice (30 credits)
  • Research Methods and Research Management (30 credits)
  • 15,000-word Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional units include:

  • Substance Misuse, Crime and the Criminal Justice System (campus-based only)
  • Risk, Dangerousness and Vulnerability: Managing public protection (campus-based only)
  • Investigation and Psychology (distance learning only)
  • Managing Justice and Security Organisations (distance learning only)
  • Countering Fraud and Corruption in Public and Private Sectors (distance learning only)
  • International and Transnational Offending (distance learning only)

Please note that all options are subject to minimum student numbers and may not all be available.

Please note that the course structure may vary from year to year; course content and learning opportunities will not be diminished by this.

Teaching and Assessment

Part time (distance learning)

All ICJS distance learning students are supported in the initial stages by the extended Induction Programme (online and face-to-face). Immediately following induction, an engagement officer proactively ensures any issues are resolved rapidly, and thereafter personal support is provided by your course leader for the duration of your studies.

Full time (campus-based)

All ICJS campus-based students will be assigned a personal tutor, responsible for pastoral support and guidance, and have access to university support services including careers, financial advice, housing and counselling etc.

Academic support

Academic support will be delivered by the relevant academic unit coordinators and the course leader via the internet, telephone and email. All students have access to the formal and informal support areas of the online course discussions areas (Graduate Common Room), student peer support and library support services in specific discussion rooms.

How are you assessed?

Assessment is based upon a range of written assignments including essays, case study, a literature review and research proposal focused on your chosen project. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation. For each assignment full academic support is provided by an academic subject expert and you will be provided with academic supervisor once you have identified your dissertation subject area.

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Monitor Facilities & Features


The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies was founded in 1992 and has since grown to comprise 50 academic staff and more than 1,800 students. Now an internationally-renowned focal point for the study of crime and criminal justice processes, it draws together expertise in criminological analysis, applied psychology, police governance and management, victimology, penology, risk and security.

Professional Links

Our extensive experience and close professional relationships with the police service and criminal justice agencies ensure that our courses reflect the changing needs of the profession. You may benefit from these links by hearing guest speakers, listening to leading-edge research and being helped to find professional work placements.

Distance Learning

Our distinctive approach to supported distance learning, robust procedures for the accreditation of prior learning and modular award framework not only help facilitate access to higher education but also offer flexible and transferable platforms for life-long learning.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

There may be travel costs for internships/placements. These will vary depending on the nature of internship/placement and can range from £50 - £1000.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Given the broad range of issues considered and the skills acquired throughout the degree programme, you will be well equipped to embark upon a diverse range of career choices. Over the years our graduates have found employment in areas including policing (both as officers and as civilian staff), crime analysis, probation, the courts and prison service, local authorities, academia and research, charities and private industry to name just a few.

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Annika Memmert

I finished my dissertation in September 2014, a couple of days later I applied for my dream job and I got the job. My employer told me that one of the decisive reasons that I got the job was my knowledge about criminology and international experience from my Master's. I can use this knowledge and understanding in my current job; For example, when researching how the Danish police can make the best use of their resources, I looked for inspiration and researches elsewhere in the world, and had an understanding of how different or similar those police systems were to the Danish system.

Anniken Engvig Memmert, MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice 2014

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Apply now

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University's Admissions Team before being transferred to individual departments for consideration and processing.

Visiting opportunities for distance learners


If you want to know more about undergraduate distance learning courses in ICJS, you will be welcome at our Virtual Open Days, where you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the academic and administrative staff:

  • 18 May, 10am-12pm
  • 27 June, 1pm-3pm
  • 24 July, 7pm-9pm
  • 31 August, 7pm-9pm

Visiting opportunities

Postgraduate Information Days are held twice a year and give you the opportunity to visit the University and meet with subject tutors. Our Postgraduate Information Days for 2017 entry have now finished.

International Students

Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.