Criminology and Geography

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Investigate, scrutinise and understand the causes and consequences of crime.

  • An interdisciplinary programme of study and a broad range of staff expertise.
  • Examines crime, justice and punishment at local, national and transnational levels of society.
  • A theoretical, empirical and applied education in Criminology to develop your knowledge and skills.

'Crime scene, do not cross' tape

Why study Criminology?

Turn on the television, open a newspaper or web browser and you’re very likely to encounter images, reports and programmes about crime, justice and punishment. Crime saturates media and popular culture, suggesting an enduring public fascination with wrongdoing and its consequences as well as being an ongoing social problem.

But what is the background story to these representations of crime? Criminology tells it through exploring causes, motivation and patterns of criminal conduct. In addition to improving our knowledge and understanding of crime, criminology also informs policies and practices of policing, law, criminal justice and punishment.

Course structure

Criminologists study crime from a variety of approaches making this a diverse field of study – you’ll look at the problem of crime from different angles and perspectives. Core modules will provide you with knowledge of the main theories, debates, issues and research problems in criminology and criminal justice; while optional modules enable you to develop particular interests.

We’ll support and encourage you to gain practical experience in relevant fields through voluntary work and placements. You’ll develop practical and analytical skills as well as subject knowledge in crime and criminal justice.


  • Year one
    You’ll learn about the research traditions of criminology and be introduced to key concepts, theories and issues. You’ll investigate different types of crime such as property crime, sexual and violent crime, homicide, corporate crime, anti-social behaviour and drug use. You’ll also learn about criminal law and criminal justice agencies and institutions.
    Optional modules will increase your understanding of psychological and social dimensions of crime. You’ll study models of individual personality and behaviour, and visualise and analyse key sources of social science data. You’ll also study a complementary subject.
  • Year two
    You’ll study contemporary debates in criminology and criminal justice, and the psychology of crime, as well as training in research methods and crime mapping techniques.
    You can select from a number of optional modules, to create a programme tailored to your personal interests. You can investigate the ecology of crime, delve more deeply into the social divisions associated with crime, justice and punishment or explore crime in the media and popular culture.
  • Year three
    You’ll undertake an original piece of criminological research in an area which interests you along with comparative study of criminal justice and penality in a global context.
    Again, you can select from a range of modules, a number of which highlight the global dimensions of crime and justice. There will be opportunities to undertake a voluntary placement in an organisation relevant to the criminal justice sector.

Course assessment

We use a range of assessments to gain a comprehensive measure of your performance. Assignments may include essays, book reviews, examinations, portfolios, creative work, contributions to online resources, presentations, reports, in-class tests, reflective writing and individual and group projects.

Work placements, industry links and internships

We’ll strongly encourage you to take advantage of placement opportunities in your second and third year, so you can apply your learning in the real world contexts of criminal justice. Practitioners contribute to teaching in some modules and you can find out more from them about working in fields related to criminal justice. Field trips, such as to local courts, will also provide opportunities to observe the legal system in action and learn more about potential careers. We also have links with local criminal justice organisations including local police services and prisons.


Project work enables you to focus on your particular interests and is built into all three years of the programme. Through individual and group projects you’ll develop employment-related skills in research, analysis, time management, leadership, problem-solving and planning.

Your first year involves a project with creative, critical and reflective elements. Moving into your second year, you’ll undertake in-depth study of the spatial dimensions of crime and learn digital crime-mapping using ARC-GIS software. A module in research methods will give you experience of research design and data collection and analysis to support project work. In the dissertation core module in your third year, you can apply the knowledge and skills you’ve developed to an independent research project on any criminological or criminal justice topic that interests you.

Teaching methods

We take pride in our innovative and engaging modules that inspire and challenge, as well as encourage you to reflect critically on your subject.

We’ll guide you through your studies, give you support and help you make the most of your academic studies. Your personal timetable will comprise all the modules for which you have been registered and these incorporate different modes of teaching.

You’ll participate in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, one-to-one tutorials, and sessions with visiting speakers.

Application method

Applications are via UCAS.

Course enquiries

Please email

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC - CCC accepted
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit,. Merit, Merit (MMM) accepted.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum of 26 points are required
  • Access to HE courses - Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher).

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Career opportunities

As a social sciences degree, the course will give you with a range of transferable skills which you can take into a career in a number of others sectors such as health and social care, marketing, HR, teaching or the media.

The Criminology programme emphasises the development of practical and analytical skills that are relevant to working in this field, with opportunities to learn digital crime mapping, risk evaluation, write reports, develop proposals and scrutinise case studies. The programme also provides opportunities for work experience and placements to apply your learning in the real world contexts of criminal justice, whilst visiting speakers and field trips such as to local courts will also provide opportunities to learn more about potential careers.

List of current alumni careers

A qualification in Criminology will prepare you for a career in a variety of relevant fields in criminal justice and associated social and welfare professions including:

  • Policing
  • Crime prevention and security
  • Crime reduction initiatives
  • Law
  • Offender management and interventions
  • Prisons
  • Probation
  • Youth justice
  • Social work
  • Community development

What students say...

Students have said the following about studying Criminology at Bath Spa:

"Fantastic, interesting and engaging"

"Definitely challenging"

"Fab teaching!"

"[Staff have been] so supportive, if I ever need help and guidance"

"The field trip to Court was valuable to understand the criminal justice system" 

"Varied seminars, always interesting, lots of group discussion"

"Learnt a lot more about crime, in much more depth than I knew"



Expand your understanding of the relationship between people and places.

  • Friendly, supportive team of lecturers, who are excellent teachers and active researchers
  • Specialisms include river and coastal processes, poverty and development, environmental hazards, sustainability and climate change, culture and identities, geotechnologies and more
  • Field trips currently include residential trips to Barcelona, the Lake District and Northern India

Our students consistently rate the course very highly, with over 90% overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year for the past three years.


Why study Geography?

Geography is about places and people. It is about understanding why 'here' differs from 'there', how people's lives vary in these different places, and how our own lives are dependent on people and places, near and far.

An ability to link environmental processes and social and spatial behaviours is a defining feature of geographical practice. As a result, Geography is clearly important in understanding today’s pressing global and local issues from climate change to sustainable development.

Studying Geography at Bath Spa University, you’ll learn geographical concepts, theories and knowledge, while gaining skills that can improve your career prospects. Geography graduates are valued by employers for this unique combination.

Course structure

We take an integrated approach to Geography; you’ll gain an understanding of both the human and physical aspects of the subject. However, a key feature of our course is that you can specialise more in the physical or human side as your interests, abilities and career plans evolve.

You’ll graduate with a range of skills that are highly valued by employers. These include scientific techniques and computer skills, as well as people skills like communication, team-work and critical thinking.


  • Year 1
    The first year of this course introduces you to the exciting world of Geography at university. You’ll acquire foundational geographical knowledge, understanding and skills. You’ll get a taste of a variety of geographies, and there are plenty of opportunities to do fieldwork, visiting local places such as the Mendip, Somerset Levels and Bristol.

    Topics you’ll study include:
    • examining contemporary geographical issues
    • learning about unfamiliar physical environments and different societies and cultures
    • exploring key issues such as development and sustainability
    • how to use the technologies, methods, techniques and equipment that geographers need to use.
  • Year 2
    This year you start to specialise in your geographical interests. Greater emphasis is placed on research methods; you’ll learn a wide range of useful geographical methods and techniques, both in the classroom and in fieldwork settings where you’ll apply your growing mastery of your subject to real-world problems and issues. We also give you the chance to engage with the Royal Geographical Society and other professional bodies as we begin to help you map out potential career paths.

    Optional topics include:
    • climate change
    • geomorphology
    • river management
    • environmental hazards
    • exciting new geotechnologies
    • urban geographies of global cities
    • work placement or volunteering overseas
    • field trip to India
  • Year 3
    This year you’ll further specialise your geographical interests. You’ll develop your skills as an independent scholar by undertaking primary research that will enable you to demonstrate the theoretical and practical aspects of your geographical interests. Alternatively, you can undertake an extended work placement with a relevant research report. There’s a huge variety in choice in what you do for a dissertation and throughout the study you’ll benefit from one-to-one tuition and expert guidance.

    The rest of the third year is made up of more specialised topics, including:
    • climatology
    • coastal management
    • development and disasters
    • identities and inequalities in society
    • globalisation
    • environmental justice
    • field trip to Lake District or Barcelona
    • community placement

Course assessment

You’ll experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, project reports, presentations, posters, video clips, fieldcraft assessments, reflective items, time-constrained tests and examinations. These will give you a rich and diverse skills learning experience, be of real benefit in the search for a good career, and be useful in your professional activities.

Study abroad

You’ll have the opportunity to study in a wide range of locations around the world. Our students have completed Erasmus+ and Exchange programmes in a variety of countries including Australia, Finland and the USA.

Field trips

'Field trip opportunities have been brilliant and a really valuable experience' – Geography graduate, 2015

We’re committed to giving you a relevant, interesting and useful degree; fieldwork is integral to this. There are various field days during modules, as well as residential fieldwork options in the UK and overseas in Years 2 and 3.

You’ll visit places and landscapes such as Avebury, Mendip, the Somerset Levels, the Welsh National History Museum, the Royal Geographical Society in London, and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Residential trips currently go to Spain, the Lake District and Northern India. Please note that you’ll have to make a financial contribution towards some of these residential study visits.

Work placements, industry links and internships

There are opportunities to undertake work placements in your second and third year – this is an excellent way to gain experience in the workplace.

Guest speakers from industry contribute to the learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will help you make those all-important career decisions when you graduate.


There are prizes awarded each year in recognition of excellence in the core modules. This culminates with the Geography Project of the Year Award, for the best dissertation.

Teaching methods

Good teaching is important to us; our graduates highly rate the quality of teaching on the course. In our friendly department you’ll benefit from small classes, specialist expertise, and up-to-date technologies, including ArcGIS, GPS survey instruments, campus river gauging and digital ‘met’ stations.

Our rural site is a superb natural laboratory where you’ll learn a range of scientific techniques including field sampling and the use of laboratory instruments for sediment and water analysis. You’ll experience lectures and workshop or seminar-based teaching, with small groups to enable discussion about specific topics.

Teaching quality excellence

We are proud of the quality of our teaching in Geography at Bath Spa. During your degree you will taught by experienced, specialist staff, who undertake research in their specific areas of expertise, as well as into the learning and teaching of different aspects of geography.

Subject tutors regularly attend Professional Development Workshops that inform curriculum development and we regularly attend academic and commercial conferences. We subscribe to industry societies and their journals, such as the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG), the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), the Development Studies Association (DSA), Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc), American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), the British Cartographic Society (BCS), GIS Professional, GIM International.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Want to know more about studying Geography at Bath Spa? We have Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year. If you can't make any of those, we are also happy to arrange individual visits for you to have a look around at the facilities and ask any questions you may have. You can get in touch using the contact details adjacent. We hope to see you here soon!

Please contact Dr Rebecca Schaaf, Subject Leader for Geography: 

Have a look at our related courses:

BSc Global Development and Sustainability

BA Geography (Human)

BSc Geography (Physical)

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC - CCC preferred with Grade C in Geography, Sociology Economics or Science
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) preferred in a related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum score of 26 points required.
  • Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher).

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Career opportunities

Our graduates possess a diverse range of skills, knowledge and expertise, suitable for many careers and occupations. This is due to the great appeal of your geographical skill-set to employers. Environmental bodies, utilities, planning, police and armed forces, retail and financial services, heritage management, local government and school teaching are typical destinations. Many geography graduates are hooked on the subject and undertake further study, including doctoral research here in the department.

The opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of your degree is an excellent way of gaining some experience in the workplace, while guest speakers from industry contribute to your learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will stand you in good stead for making those all-important career decisions when you move into the world of work.

Since 2010, employers such as Geomatics Group, At-Bristol, Discover Battle, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and The Ministry of Defence have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including  Assistant Geomatics Surveyor, Renewables Developer, Business Analyst, Oceaneer and Press Officer.

What students say...

 We take the views of our students very seriously, and evaluations of each module are undertaken each year, incorporating feedback from all students. You will also have the opportunity to represent your peers at committee and board meetings that meet regularly to discuss the shape and evolution of your course.

Tim Johns, Geography, graduated July 2012:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Bath Spa University and would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the environmental industry. Academically, the course was fantastic and offered the opportunity to learn a diverse range of skills that would equip anyone with the necessary attributes to enter the world of work, or pursue postgraduate studies. At Bath Spa my learning was not just restricted to the classroom; I had the opportunity to undertake a live Dissertation project working in conjunction with the Environment Agency. This was an invaluable experience giving me the opportunity to work with industry professionals. My advice to those starting their studies would be to take full advantage of the facilities Bath Spa has to offer, including the excellent support from staff and tutors. Just remember from the offset… you have to work hard to play hard and all things are achievable no matter what!”

Please look at the video clips to see what our students have said about studying Geography at Bath Spa University.

Read about the activities and achievements of our students and staff in our annual Geography Newsletter: