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Understand why crimes happen, how to prevent them and the response of the legal system

  • 22 December 2021
  • 3 min read

Where there's civilisation, there's crime. It's a global concern, both on a local and international scale.

If you're interested in understanding our society, why people may commit crimes and using this knowledge to help prevent crime, criminology may be the degree for you.

What is criminology?

There are different areas of Criminology you can study. Criminology itself is the study of crime and criminals. While Criminal Justice relates to the agencies involved in the justice and penal systems, such as police, prisons, probation – and their responses to crime. Forensic Studies looks at types of evidence and how to analyse it for use in criminal investigations.

What unites the field is looking at the underlying reasons behind criminal behaviour. What social and psychological factors motivate actions? And what are the effects of crime on people and communities? Up to the challenge of solving these puzzles? Then you can help tackle one of society's biggest challenges.

Where could it lead?

Depending on the course you choose, you'll also gain the sociological, psychological and forensic skills required to go into fields of law enforcement, probation, crime rehabilitation, cybercrime, counter fraud and crime prevention.

What's it like to study Criminology and how does it apply to a career?
University of Portsmouth Criminology graduate Matt Hockley

Matt graduated in 2018 with a Criminology and Criminal Justice degree from the University of Portsmouth. He is now a Probation Practice Research Assistant. Find out what Matt’s role entails and how he’s applying the skills he learned during his time at Portsmouth

What jobs can you do?

Opportunities exist in both the private and public sector if you study Criminology. You could work in central and local government, for the police, in prison and probation services or court services. It's possible to work in a range of social welfare posts, such as mental health support, non-profit organisations including the NHS and even in the private sector, for example in security and law.

What skills will you gain?

You'll also gain transferrable skills, which will be highly valued by both technical and non-technical employers such as:

  • Problem solving – taking an analytical approach to solving crimes
  • Communication – working with people to share ideas and using technical language correctly
  • Hands-on skills – planning, doing and reporting experiments
  • Reasoning – making logical arguments and discussing complex problems

My teachers were former forensics and detectives and it was fascinating to hear them relate everything we learnt to a real case they'd worked on in the past.

Isobel Linsel, Alumna, BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies

An introduction to forensic investigation

A key step in many criminal investigations is Forensic Investigation to gather any evidence of the crime, for use in the criminal trial. One of the things our students do to learn about this, is to work on a mock-up of a real crime scene.
Person doing forensic study

Practice scenario: a hotel assault

You are the Crime Scene Manager and Lead Investigator on an assault that has taken place in one of the rooms at a hotel. You’re responsible for leading the investigation and your task is to identify the steps that need to be taken for the investigation, including the examination of the evidence at the scene.


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