MSc Criminology


Program Description

Our MSc Criminology course establishes clear connections between conceptual theories of crime and justice and applied examples of how they affect contemporary societies. The course has an international focus that goes beyond the UK or Scottish borders, making it appealing for a diverse student cohort.

The course content encourages the pursuit of innovative and socially just responses to the problem of crime from crimes in the streets or at home, to crimes of the powerful, crimes across borders, or the much newer phenomenon of online crime. Throughout the course, there's an emphasis on the need for a strong critical understanding of how research is framed, used and developed, which is delivered via modules in data analysis and research design, as well as criminological and socio-legal research methods. You’ll have the opportunity to explore concepts of criminal justice, the social contexts of crime, and a variety of criminological theoretical perspectives as well as applied insights.

With elective modules in specialist subjects such as rehabilitation and criminal justice work; drug policy and interventions; and criminalization, social control, and human rights, students can acquire and develop a range of skills which will significantly enhance both their confidence in criminology and their employability.

The course is ideal for those who are keen to continue their studies at postgraduate level, as well as for practitioners who wish to consolidate existing experience and training with a Masters qualification.

Top reasons to study with us

  1. We’re ranked 1st in Scotland and top 10 in the UK for Criminology (The Guardian University Guide 2019).
  2. Our course showcases international perspectives on criminology and criminal justice, which go beyond a UK focus.
  3. Includes specialist modules in rehabilitation and criminal justice work, as well as drug policies and interventions.

Course objectives

This course offers interdisciplinary insights into pressing current social issues such as terrorism, ethical uses of technology in criminal justice, the issues faced by women in criminal justice, drug policy reform, emergence and regulation of psychoactive substances, or tracing the links between poverty and imprisonment.

You'll gain a critical understanding of how research is framed, used and developed, and by whom, in criminology. Our academics are members of an internationally leading research centre; the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), as well as being affiliated with the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIRP). Our research features in the media and is used by policymakers and practice leaders.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.


When you study MSc Criminology at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.

Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF 2014) – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, highlights included:

  • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading
  • 100% of the research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world-leading
  • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • we were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK

Entry Requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second-class Honours degree (2:1 preferred) in a relevant subject or equivalent is required. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with relevant work or life experience are encouraged to apply.

INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma if you don’t meet the required criteria for this course. If you successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences and meet the required progression grades, you’ll be guaranteed entry onto this Masters degree.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C or above
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B or above
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Course details

The MSc Criminology comprises two compulsory taught core modules, a choice of up to five further specialist options modules, and a dissertation.


We emphasize participation, creativity, and reflection in our teaching of this course.


Our course involves a wide range of assessment choices, providing stimulus and variety, but also stretching students with assessments that test a wide breadth of skills and competencies. In addition to conventional essays and critical report writing, you'll also be assessed through presentations, the production of poster presentations, blogs, observation-based reflective reports, drafting briefing papers, and a professional writing exercise.

Also, you'll typically undertake a research dissertation that may involve a range of fieldwork activities depending on the student project (e.g. interviews, focus groups, visual research methods, survey design and administration, and secondary data analysis).

Classroom hours

Teaching on this course generally takes place all day on a Friday, and on half a day on a Thursday, but certain modules may be taught on other days.

Fees and costs

Fees shown are per year.

  • Home/ EU Students: £4,700
  • Overseas (Non-EU Students): £13,650


If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances. That’s why we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities available.

Additional costs

If you choose to attend your graduation ceremony, you will be liable for an additional charge. There is no charge if you wish to graduate in absentia.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments.

After you graduate

As a Masters graduate in criminology, you’ll have the opportunity to pursue a number of career routes in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Graduates in criminology can go onto roles in the police, prison service, probation and community justice, courts, human rights advocacy, youth work, women’s justice and recovery services, victim support, surveillance, intelligence services, services for individuals or families affected by drug use, drug policy and information organisations and various charities and social enterprises. With a combination of specialist theoretical and methodological knowledge, as well as critical-analytical skills, our course is also a great platform for those considering research and policy-related roles.

Boost your employability by studying at Scotland’s top-rated university for criminology (The Guardian University Guide 2019).

Benefit from our links to the criminal justice sector and Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR).

Fees - 2020/2021

  • Overseas £15,250
  • Home/EU £6,000
Last updated Aug 2020

About the School

At the University of Stirling, being the difference is in our DNA – providing education with a purpose and carrying out research that helps to shape society.

At the University of Stirling, being the difference is in our DNA – providing education with a purpose and carrying out research that helps to shape society. Read less