LLM/MSc/PgDip/PgCert Criminal Justice & Penal Change

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Strathclyde Law School: Virtual Information Session, 6 June 2023

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Study mode and duration: LLM/MSc: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
    PgDip: 9 months full-time, 21 months part-time
  • Funded places: Scholarships available

Study with us

  • draw on a range of disciplinary approaches, to develop a rational and just response to crime
  • full-time, part-time and evening study options
  • learn from world experts in the fields of policy and practice
  • examine a range of legal, political and social responses across the world to what is widely known as the 'penal crisis'

I enjoyed the class mix as we had lawyers, practitoners, recent graduates and also international students which brought different ideas and experiences which made debates exciting and interesting.

Karen Fullerton, MSc Criminal Justice and Penal Change

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Why this course?

Blending a rigorous understanding of fundamental theory with evidence about real world problems you’ll analyse recent innovations in theory, policy and practice.

Drawing on a range of disciplinary approaches, the course will enable you to develop a rational and just response to crime.

The LLM/MSc in Criminal Justice & Penal Change is unique in both its approach and its flexibility.

Key features:

  • our focus is on pressing contemporary national and international issues of policy and practice
  • choose to graduate with either an LLM or MSc
  • study full-time or part-time
  • learn from a world-class teaching team
  • students are from a range of nationalities and disciplinary backgrounds
  • benefit from the work of the Centre for Law, Crime and Justice

Course video

Hear from Professor Cyrus Tata and students on the course.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

Who is the course suitable for?

  • practitioners working in a wide range of law, justice and welfare areas
  • professionals developing justice policy
  • members of the third /voluntary sector
  • recent graduates in law, social sciences and humanities

Flexible study options

You can choose to graduate with an LLM or MSc or complete the course early with a Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate.

You'll have the option of studying full-time or part-time and attending classes in the early evening.

Frequently asked questions

Centre for Law, Crime & Justice

You’ll benefit from the work of the Centre for Law, Crime and Justice (CLCJ), which brings together expertise in the study of law, crime, criminal justice as well as interdisciplinary areas between law, sociology, social work, psychology and computer and information science.

As well as providing distinctive postgraduate courses and research opportunities, it conducts internationally leading research and helps to shape public policy, discourse and practice.

Find out more about the CLCJ

Our students

Interested in postgraduate study?

At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be available to provide you with all the information you need to kick-start your postgraduate journey at the University of Strathclyde. Register for upcoming events below:

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Course content

The LLM/MSc in Criminal Justice and Penal Change provides scope for flexibility within an overall framework.

In addition to the list of core and elective classes, you may also be able to take options from a range of postgraduate courses including:

Criminal Justice & Penal Decision-Making

In this module we examine the moral and empirical bases of decision-making around the globe. How are traditional theories of justice being challenged, and what are the alternatives?  In the light of the international evidence, is it time for a re-think?  Illustrative topics include:

  • legitimacy
  • discretion
  • rehabilitation & desistance
  • restorative justice
  • public attitudes to and knowledge of criminal justice
  • the trial
  • access to justice
  • prosecution & defence
  • sentencing
  • parole
  • release from prison
  • community sentences
  • human dignity
  • participation
  • rights
  • therapeutic jurisprudence
  • criminal procedure
  • predictive justice
  • equality
  • reform & democratisation

Learning is conducted through a range of methods including student-led debates, role plays, scenarios and simulations. The module is accompanied by visits to key institutions, including courts, prisons, new Third Sector projects, innovations such as the Drug Court as well as conferences with key practitioners and policy makers. 

Punishment & Processes of Penal Change

The western world’s “penal crisis” has, over the past thirty years, posed specific challenges to the reform tradition.

In this module we explore the nature, dimensions and national permutations of that crisis, putative solutions to it and likely obstacles to their realisation. We draw on theoretical developments in the study of justice and punishment and explore their potential to illuminate and inform processes of progressive penal change.

The module examines contemporary changes, international evidence and policy transfer, and technological challenges and considers reform across the globe. The module draws on insights and perspectives including law, the sociology of punishment, history and the social sciences

Learning is conducted through a range of innovative methods such as debates and media representations. The module is supplemented by visits to key institutions' prisons, women’s justice centres, as well as conferences with key practitioners and policy makers.

Research Methods

In this module you'll gain and develop a secure knowledge and understanding of the range of legal, social scientific and other research methods. This will better equip you not only to undertake your dissertation in your chosen field of study, but also add a further dimension to your skill set, increasingly sought after by employers.

In this newly enhanced module as well as legal research, there will be a strong emphasis on how social science and other disciplines can be used to study criminal justice.  The module will help you to be better placed to create your own study. Also you'll be well equipped to evaluate the claims made by a range of governmental, non-governmental, media, academic and other bodies.   

Dissertation Research Project

Your Master’s will culminate in a dissertation. This is an extended project of enquiry into an area of your own choice. You'll create knowledge in answer to a question which really intrigues you.

While you'll be very much in the driving seat, your work is nurtured and guided by a member of our academic staff team. You'll be guided by some of the world’s foremost experts.

Choose from a range of advanced option modules including:

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice as applied to criminal harms, has grown and spread rapidly across the world in the last twenty years or so. Research indicates that in comparison with formal or retributive justice there can be more positive outcomes for both offender and victims. Yet the adoption of restorative justice within or alongside criminal justice systems has been patchy.

Experience has shown that restorative justice is a popular topic and this module provides an opportunity for advanced learning. Your learning will be accompanied by practical exercises, such as simulations led by leading practitioners.

Childhood & Crime

Youth justice attracts interest across society, politically, socially and legally. Some issues – from the murder of two year old James Bulger in 1993 by two 10 year old children to the riots in 2011 in England – spark moral panic and demonstrate the extent to which such matters cut across disciplinary boundaries and influence legal and societal responses to children who offend.

Youth justice generates its own philosophical approaches eg in the welfare / justice debate. It also provides a context within which to examine broader issues affecting criminal justice as a whole such as the need to balance the rights of the accused against the public interest.

This class will provide an opportunity for you to critically examine some key aspects of youth justice law, policy and philosophy from a number of perspectives. Your learning will be supplemented by visits to custodial and innovative community settings, as well as a visit to and a simulation of Scotland’s unique system of ‘Children’s Hearings’ (a decision-making system based on the best needs of the child).

Surveillance, Technology & Control

Surveillance and the use of technology in criminal justice is becoming increasingly important.

This module focuses on aspects of surveillance studies that inform the study criminal justice and penal change. If it's true that surveillance is ethically and politically problematic, how can or should it be used? Contemporary forms are stimulated by technological developments that were unavailable in earlier eras, whose deployment and consequences are, as yet, only beginning to be understood. Is increased surveillance inevitable? What is its impact on privacy and patterns of social exclusion? How can it be used for benign, even progressive objectives?

The module focuses on theoretical understandings of surveillance, selected substantive aspects of it, patterns of resistance to it, and forms of regulation of it that have emerged in relation to it, including privacy and human rights concerns. Learning is supplemented by visits to the CCTV monitoring centre and Electronic Monitoring centre.

Offender Supervision & Management

In this module you'll gain a critical understanding of core contexts and critical arguments, theories and debates in offender supervision and management. It's designed to provide you with relevant knowledge, understanding and skills to critically engage with theory, research and contemporary debates about the management of offenders and to apply this knowledge to professional and practice contexts.

We'll address 'real world' policy and practice issues from a range of perspectives. This module specifically focuses on current policies and practices in an era of penal change. We'll also engage in critical debates on contemporary practices in order to encourage you in thinking more critically about more radical approaches to penal change in the context of offender management and criminal justice.


This module examines the legal, historical and social science perspectives on homicide.

As well as legal-philosophical scrutiny of key issues in criminal law and procedure, technology and homicide, you'll also gain the latest evidence on homicide.

International Criminal Justice

Recent years have witnessed major developments in international criminal justice, with the establishment of not only of ad hoc but also hybrid international criminal tribunals and, ultimately, the permanent International Criminal Court.

The International Criminal Justice module provides you with an opportunity to develop a deep, critical awareness of those various legal, social, and political strategies, mechanisms, and institutions that have been developed to deal with crimes with an international or trans-national dimension and of the new challenges that are emerging across the contemporary world. You'll engage critically with the philosophy and history of international criminal justice, as well as the legal frameworks, enforcement mechanisms, and contemporary developments in the arena of the prosecution of international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, aggression, and torture). There's a particular focus on the role of courts and tribunals and the key issues, debates, and challenges facing the implementation of these kinds of prosecutions, including the possibility of alternative forms of response.

Learning & teaching

As well as seminars, you’ll be asked to take part in role play exercises, presentations and other forms of learning.

We've an active programme of public lectures from eminent visiting speakers on contemporary topics. There'll be a programme of visits to local justice agencies designed to stimulate your academic learning.

Teaching staff

You'll be taught by some of the world’s foremost experts not only in academic research but also from the fields of policy and practice.

The course is run by Strathclyde Law School’s Centre for Law, Crime and Justice. It brings together world leading research expertise with some of the most accomplished practitioners and policy officials.

Course Overview

Find out more from our students.


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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

First- or upper second-class Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in law, one of the social sciences, business or humanities. Entry may be possible with other qualifications and/or experience.

Please note: a Law degree is not a prerequisite for entry to this course.

English language requirements

Please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Chat to a student ambassador

If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Humanities & Social Sciences student at the University of Strathclyde, a selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

Chat to a student ambassador

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Map of the world.

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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Full-time: £9,600

Part-time: £4,800


Full-time: £6,400

Part-time: £3,200


Part-time: £3,200

England, Wales & Northern Ireland


Full-time: £9,600

Part-time: £4,800


Full-time: £6,400

Part-time: £3,200


Part-time: £3,200






Available scholarships

British Council GREAT Scholarships 2023 for Justice and Law scholarships worth £10,000 open to applications from students from China, Ghana, Malaysia or Pakistan.

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Additional costs

No additional costs for law modules and all compulsory material is in the library.

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

View all our scholarships
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Students on the Strathclyde Masters (LLM or MSc) in Criminal Justice and Penal Change come from a range of backgrounds.

Some are recent graduates in law, humanities and the social sciences from around the world. Many are current practitioners, policy-makers in different fields of criminal justice. They find the course of invaluable assistance in gaining a step up the career ladder.

Where are they now?

Occupations which criminal justice students may (and do) take up include:

  • Advocacy
  • Central Government Criminal Justice Research Manager
  • Council of Europe Analyst
  • Criminal Barrister
  • Defence law
  • European Union Policy Analyst
  • Forensic Services
  • Judiciary
  • Local Government Criminal Justice Policy Manager
  • Lecturer in Criminal Justice
  • Parliamentary Advisors on Criminal Justice
  • Prosecution Service
  • Prison Management
  • Prison Psychologist
  • Prison-based Social Work
  • Victim Support

What do employers say?

I’m pleased to endorse this exciting and well thought through new course. It’s encouraging to see for the first time the direct, upfront link between Criminal Justice and Penal Change. One area in particular I welcome is the practical focus on risk assessment, defensible decision making, multi-agency partnership working and effectiveness of interventions to address offending behaviour."

D E Gunn O.B.E. M.A. M.Soc.Sc. MSc, has been Governor of HM Prisons Greenock, Polmont YOI, Edinburgh and Glenochil and is Director of Operations for the Scottish Prison Service


I welcome this course at a time when investment in community supervision is being cut, prisoner numbers are rising, and the Service is threatened with privatisation. Its focus on desistance and restorative justice is central to the maintenance of an ethically sound approach to interventions. In turn its emphasis on prison reform by encouraging more therapeutic approaches for those in custody is an essential way to ensure community and prison-based interventions are both complementary and successful.”

Jonathan Ledger, General Secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, UK

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Exchange Square.

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Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

PG Certificate
Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

PG Diploma
Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

PG Diploma
Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Criminal Justice and Penal Change

Start date: Sep 2023

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Contact us

Prospective student enquiries

Contact a member of our team on LiveChat between 10am and 4pm (GMT)

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 444 8600