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How to Apply

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Turn on the television, open a newspaper or open a web browser and you are very likely to encounter images, reports, films and programmes about crime, justice and punishment. Crime saturates our media and popular culture, suggesting an enduring public fascination with wrong-doing and its consequences, as well as crime being an on-going problem in contemporary society.

But what is the background story to all of these representations of crime? Criminology tells it through close and in-depth research into crime and victimisation and the responses to crime that come in the form of justice, law enforcement and punishment. This covers a broad terrain, as there are multiple forms of crime covered by laws at local, national and transnational levels of society. Criminologists have studied crime from a variety of different approaches making this a multi-disciplinary field of knowledge, making it a diverse field of study, and also a dynamic one, as change in social conditions, norms, and laws have an impact on trends in crime.  

Why study Criminology?

'Crime scene, do not cross' tape

Students of criminology will explore the causes and motivations underlying criminal conduct and the social conditions and problems which are associated with criminality. The criminal justice system is also a key aspect of your studies and you will critically investigate and scrutinise the policies, processes and practices of criminal justice and punishment at local, national and global levels of society.

Not only do the central questions of Criminology reflect some of the fundamental issues of social science concerning human behaviour, they also tap into some of the key cultural and political debates about the kind of societies we live in and how we would like them to be.

A degree in Criminology will also provide you with the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in one of a number of areas of criminal justice including policing, crime prevention, working in courts and legal services, youth justice and the penal system.

Course structure

As a field of study, criminology has developed with contributions from a range of disciplines including sociology, psychology, law, geography, media and literary studies, biology and history amongst others. This is reflected in the BSU Criminology programme which draws on expertise in a number of fields enabling you to look at the problem of crime from different angles. At the core of the programme is a suite of modules that will give you a foundational knowledge of the main theories, debates, issues and research problems of criminology and criminal justice that are grounded in the traditions of social science. Criminological research has had an impact on public policy, but criminologists also have a responsibility to analyse and question forms of governance and social control. You will interrogate the balancing act that criminology plays between contributing to government policies that control and punish crime and critical exploration of them.

In your first year of study you will learn about the theoretical and research traditions of criminology and be introduced to key concepts, theories and issues as well as be given grounding in criminal law and criminal justice. These are taught through investigation into different types of crime – such as property crime, sexual and violent crime, homicide, terrorism, corporate crime, anti-social behaviour and drug use. Your first year also takes in study and research skills, including an optional module that focuses on finding and managing data.  The remainder of your programme will consist of optional modules of your choice, including a complementary subject (such as psychology, sociology or geography).

In your second year of study you will develop your knowledge and understanding through study of contemporary criminological theories, research and debates on criminal justice. You will also develop your applied knowledge and practical skills with training in research methods and crime mapping techniques and enhance your understanding of criminality by studying the psychology of crime. You can select from a number of modules to put together the remainder of your programme and develop your studies according to your personal interests.  You can investigate the ecology of crime and the problem of environmental justice. You can develop your understanding by delving more deeply into the social divisions and social problems that are linked to crime. Or you may wish to pursue the cultural study of crime by examining representations of crime in film and literature

In your third and final year of study, you will undertake an original piece of criminological research in an area which interests you and undertake comparative study of criminal justice and penalty in global context. Again, you can design your final programme with your own selections from a number of modules, a number of which also highlight the global dimensions of crime and justice. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a voluntary placement in an organisation that works within the criminal justice sector.


Year 1:

  • Criminology: An introduction * **
  • Visualising Society
  • Global development

Year 2:

  • Contemporary and critical issues in crime and justice * **
  • Researching People and Organisations*
  • Criminological and Investigative Psychology*
  • Social Diversity and Divisions
  • Crime Fiction
  • Film Noir
  • Growing up and Living in Communities
  • Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Work Placement

Year 3:

  • Criminology dissertation* **
  • Punishment and Penology in Global Context*
  • Young people, Identity and Subcultures
  • Identities and Inequality
  • Crime Fiction in the Contemporary World
  • Gender: Mind, Body and Cultures
  • Community Engagement
  • Migration, Diversity and Racism
  • Mobility, Risks and Environmental Justice

* Compulsory modules for Single Honours Awards

** Compulsory modules for Combined Honours Awards

Course assessment

The Criminology degree programme employs a range of assessments to enable your tutors to measure both your subject knowledge and your skills. Many assessments are designed with ‘authentic’ components that enable you to apply your learning to situations, problems and tasks that would arise in working environments. Assignments may include essays, book  reviews, examinations, portfolios, outline proposals, contributions to on-line resources, presentations, reports, in-class tests, creative projects, reflective writing and individual and group projects. The content, format, weighting and assessment criteria of assignments is outlined is provided at the start of each module in its handbook and on Minerva, the BSU virtual learning environment.


Teaching staff at Bath Spa are encouraged to – and take pride in – designing and delivering innovative and engaging modules that seek to inspire you, challenge you and confront how you think about a particular topic. Staff are also there to guide you through your studies, give you support and help you make the most of your academic studies. Though based in the Department of Social Science, the Criminology programme also contains contributions from staff in other disciplines across the university with specialist interests that will expand your criminological knowledge in a truly multidisciplinary programme.

Teaching methods

In the Criminology programme, learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, group and individual projects, the Minerva virtual learning environment, volunteer placements and sessions with visiting speakers. Project work is built into all three levels of the Criminology degree programme to enable you to focus on and develop particular interests as well as employment-related skills including research and analysis, time management, problem-solving and planning.

The programme also includes use of a number of resources and technologies. You will be taught how use software for conducting crime research including ArcGIS and SPSS. All modules have a site on the BSU virtual learning environment (‘Minerva’) which gives you unlimited on-line access to learning materials such as handbooks, lecture slides, assessment information, discussion boards and other resources, as well as helping you keep in contact with staff and other students. Bath Spa library holdings include books, academic journals and DVDs and an extensive range of electronic services (such as e-books, on-line journals, digital news and magazine archives) which can be accessed on-line on and off campus through its website. It also provides a place for individual study and collaborative work.

Application method

Applications are via UCAS.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

Please email

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A qualification in Criminology will prepare you for working towards 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

As  a social sciences degree, it will also furnish 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.

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"