Criminal Justice & Penal Change - FAQs

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about the LLM/MSc Criminal Justice & Penal Change. If we haven't answered your question, just get in touch.

LLM or the MSc?

LLM and MSc – what’s the difference?

They’re both Master’s qualifications. An LLM is a Master of Law and an MSc is a Master of Science.

Is one better than the other?

No. They’re both Master-level qualifications of the same academic standard. One is not objectively better than the other. They’re equal but slightly different: an LLM qualification gives an emphasis on ‘law’ and the MSc qualification gives more of an emphasis on ‘science’.

So why have the two Masters qualifications?

Most courses only offer students an LLM or an MSc. Uniquely, at Strathclyde in the Graduate Programme in Criminal Justice & Penal Change, students can choose to graduate with either an LLM OR an MSc. We believe this is an advantage for students as it increases choice and flexibility for students who might find one award more useful for a particular career path.

What sort of careers does this qualification prepare me for?

If you’re building your career in certain sectors (eg prison management, penal and justice policy-making, probation, social work etc) you might prefer to graduate with an MSc as some feel it may have slightly more kudos in those fields. If you’re building a career in law (especially legal practice eg prosecution, defence etc) you might prefer to graduate with an LLM as that has more kudos in legal practice fields.

I’m not certain what career path I might take. Do I have to decide now?

You don’t need to decide which degree you take until the second semester (i.e. January). It will be discussed during the first semester and we’ll try to give you advice. But for now, all you need to do (for administrative purposes) is to register for either an LLM or MSc (both are available part-time or full-time).

Remember, this can be changed at any point up until the early part of semester 2 (January). So if you register for an LLM now you can switch to an MSc and vice versa right until the second semester.

If I switch, is there a difference in the curriculum?

Yes, slightly. The first semester is common to both the LLM and MSc route. In the second semester there are small differences in electives and also the character of the dissertation which students work on from around April onwards. Again, we’ll try to help you with what is the best option for you.

Can I study for any other qualifications?

Yes, you have the option to exit early with the award of a Post-Graduate Diploma or Certificate.

Students on the course

Who are likely to be the other students on the course?

There will be a mix of different criminal justice practitioners, policy-makers, Third Sector and NGO staff, as well as recent graduates in one of the social sciences, law or humanities.

The student group will be a mix of Scottish, UK, European and International students. This mix can be a really good way in which students can learn from each other and develop their own bonds and networks across the world, in different justice sectors.

Mode of study

Part-time or Full-time? How long does it take and which is best?

Full-time is 12 months. Part-time is 24 months. Which one you take really depends on your circumstances. If you’re in a demanding full-time job then it may be best to opt for part-time study. If you don’t have the commitments of a full-time job, then studying full-time might suit you.

As a practitioner in the criminal justice system, will this course be easy for me?

You’ll certainly draw on your daily experience and this will be valuable. However, at the same time you’re expected to rethink taken-for-granted routines and assumptions found in any system.

Practitioners who come to the classes having done the preparation and thought about it with an open mind, are more likely to find studying very rewarding and do very well.

The dissertation

What's the subject of the dissertation (LLM/MSc students)?

You choose the subject matter and create your own academic inquiry in an area which interests you. You’ll be allocated an experienced academic supervisor depending on the area which interests you.

We’ve a world-class teaching and supervision team, based in the Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime & Justice. They're all active academic researchers and top experts in their own fields.

You’ll receive guidance on how to go about creating your dissertation inquiry and what is being sought by the examiners. For those who may not have done this before, we’re on-hand to guide you, although of course the work must be your own.

How do students study for the course?

We believe that people learn best when they learn actively. We want you to really enjoy the course and be as fascinated by criminal justice and penal change as we are.

This means that you’re expected to be prepared and have done the necessary reading before class. You’ll get much more from the course and you’ll find it more motivating too.

As well as seminars, you’ll be asked to take part in role play exercises, presentations and other forms of learning. You’ll also be invited to take part in our active programme of public lectures from eminent visiting speakers on contemporary topics. In addition, there’ll be a programme of visits to local justice agencies designed to stimulate your academic learning.

Further information

If we still haven't answered your question or you'd like further information, please contact Emma Johnstone:´╗┐
+ 44 (0) 141 444 8600