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Criminology (Distance learning)


Postgraduate degree

MSc Criminology
School of Sciences
Campus or location
Distance learning
Course length
One year full time or two years part time.

Entry requirements

This course is suitable for anyone with a good honours degree in Criminology or a related discipline. We'll also consider applicants who are new to the field, or who have relevant work experience.

Please contact our admissions team for more information:

Our online Criminology Master’s degree will deepen your understanding of current theories, methods and debates in criminal justice.

  • Enhance your career opportunities by studying online from anywhere in the world.
  • Become familiar with evaluation and evidence-based practice and its increasing importance in the workplace.
  • Join the conversation – your research and reflections could help shape the dialogue around current issues.

Want to work in the criminal justice sector? Or do you already work in policing or criminal justice, and want to progress your career?

Gain an advanced understanding of current debates in criminology, in areas such as crime investigation, offender interventions and the ageing prison population.

You’ll learn the theories and methods of research, and become familiar with evidence-based practice – which is increasingly important in criminal justice and policing careers.

This course is taught and assessed entirely online, giving you the opportunity to study from anywhere in the world. It's also available as a campus-based course.

What you'll learn


This innovative, online Master's in Criminology is delivered as a distance-learning programme, and allows you to develop specialist knowledge of the current themes and policy debates surrounding crime, criminal justice, crime control, policing, penology and offender management. It equips you with the intellectual, analytical and research skills needed for understanding and applying criminological theories and concepts in practice.

The programme also provides an in-depth understanding of the interactions between politics, criminology and criminal justice, and the impact of public policy in these areas. You'll be taught by experts from criminological, sociological and legal backgrounds with professional criminal justice experience. You'll also benefit from research-led teaching, as well as strong links to wider criminal justice professions and industry.

Recognising your evolving needs as a student and professional, as well as the pressures of the modern workplace, this MSc uniquely allows you to not only choose between studying full-time or part-time, but gives you the opportunity to transfer to a campus-based version of the programme, should this better suit your changed circumstances.

Course structure

MSc Criminology is split into three trimesters, taught across either one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

You’ll begin by looking at advanced theory and contemporary issues in crime and justice, before progressing to the research and evaluation-based modules of the course.

In your final trimester, you’ll complete your dissertation.

Course modules

This course includes or offers the following modules. Please check the programme document for more information on which modules are core, required or optional.

  • Advanced Criminological Theory
  • Contemporary Issues in Crime and Justice
  • Global Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Doing Criminological Research
  • Dissertation
How will I be assessed?

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, including essays, practical projects and presentations.

You’ll also complete a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic that you’ll choose in consultation with a supervisor. Your dissertation topic might be an area of interest that has emerged through your studies, or it could be linked to your current professional role and career aspirations.

To find out more about how we teach and how you'll learn, please read our Learning and Teaching Delivery Statement.

How will I be taught?

This MSc in Criminology is offered as an online, distance-learning curriculum. The modules will be delivered through a series of weekly interactive online tasks, as well as online content.



Our aim is to equip you with the advanced criminological knowledge and practical skills you’ll need to pursue or develop your career in fields such as policing, crime prevention and reduction, security, offender management, prisons, probation, youth justice, social work and community development. You could also choose to build on the skills in research you’ve gained during this course with further study.

You’ll hone your abilities in critical thinking and creative problem-solving, and develop your capacity to work and learn independently. You’ll also develop your research and evaluation skills – which are crucial, given that the sector is turning to evidence-based methods of working.

You’ll also develop 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 and the media.

Adobe Creative Campus

Develop a wealth of indispensable digital skills that you can take into your future career. One of only three Adobe Creative Campuses in the UK, we provide all Bath Spa students with access to the full Adobe Creative Suite, giving you the tools to communicate creatively, whatever your course or chosen professional field.   

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

The distance learning version of this course is delivered via Bath Spa University's virtual learning environment, Ultra.


2024 entry
Student Annual tuition fee
UK full time £8,595
UK part time £4,298
International full time £15,905

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We welcome students with a passion and enthusiasm for the subject of criminology. You should have a willingness to engage with the issues of crime, justice and punishment. You'll study with an open mind when considering theories and evidence. We also welcome those who are motivated to use their knowledge and skills to make a difference in the field of practice.

This course is suitable for anyone with a good honours degree in Criminology or a related discipline. We'll also consider applicants who are new to the field, or who have relevant work experience. See our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) web page to learn more.

How do I apply?

Applications for this course will open in late September 2023 for a 2024 start.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply webpages.

Get ahead

We recommend you read the following texts to prepare for your postgraduate studies in Criminology:

  • P. Davies et al (2018) Doing Criminological Research, Thousand Oaks, SAGE
  • A. Liebling et al (2017) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • N. South et al (2017) The Routledge Companion to Criminological Theory and Concepts, London, Routledge.

When to apply

Many of our postgraduate courses have a limited number of student spaces. To avoid the disappointment of the course being full, we recommend that you apply now.

Late applications (generally those made after 31 July) will only be considered if places remain on the course.

Need more information or still have questions? Contact us to discuss your situation.

Course leader: Dr Rainer-Elk Anders

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