MSc Criminology & Social Policy

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Key facts

  • Start date: January
  • Study mode and duration: On campus, 12 months full time; 24 months part time

Study with us

  • this course will provide you with a critical and nuanced understanding of criminology, criminal justice and social policy, and of the wider political, economic and social context within which criminological research takes place
  • you'll be taught social science research methods, alongside key issues, theories and debates in criminology, social and penal policy and practice, schooling you in cutting-edge knowledge across these arenas
  • you'll become equipped to evaluate, design, and deliver research projects across justice related, and social science disciplines and develop an understanding of the impact that such research has on policy and practice, and vice versa
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Why this course

Designed and delivered by a dynamic team of international scholars with globally-recognised expertise in Criminology, this course fosters an inclusive learning environment to provide you with a critical understanding of contemporary theories, issues, and debates in criminology, criminal justice, and social and penal policy.

You'll gain a cutting-edge understanding of the individual, relational, cultural, and structural factors that intersect with, and underpin, offending and related social issues, locally and globally, drawing on critical arguments, theories, and debates at the forefront of criminology and criminal justice, social and penal policy, and practice.

It'll also equip you with an understanding of social science research methods and skills which will enhance your research skills and enable you to undertake an independent research project on a topic of your choice.

As a key partner in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, you'll benefit from the opportunities afforded to our thriving cross-institutional postgraduate community, including but not limited to additional training, participation in and access to knowledge-exchange and public engagement opportunities, alongside the development of national and international academic, policy and professional networks.

The Law School is also home to Strathclyde’s Criminal and Social Justice Research cluster – a vibrant, enthusiastic, and collaborative team that produces world-leading, international, and multi-disciplinary scholarship, applied research, and consultancy on issues of criminal and social justice, social and penal policy and social work theory and practice.

Birds on barbed wire with a blue sky in the background

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Course content

This programme offers six taught modules alongside a Masters dissertation. 

Major projects

You'll have the opportunity to apply your learning and develop or enhance your research skills by undertaking a small research project in this field (dissertation in criminology), of your choosing, and participate in related knowledge exchange and public engagement activities.

The Contexts of Criminal Justice Research

The aim of this module is to provide you with a critical understanding of the core contexts, critical arguments, theories and debates in penal policy and criminal justice practice. It's designed to provide you with relevant knowledge, understanding and skills to critically engage with theory, research and contemporary debates about penal responses to people who offend, and with critical debates in contemporary policies and practices, as well as introducing more radical approaches to penal change.

Contemporary Issues in Criminology

The aim of this module is to provide you with a critical, sociologically-informed understanding of Criminology, tracing some of the major themes and topics that arise within this discipline. It's designed to provide you with an understanding of the development of Criminology, while providing an in-depth critique of classical and sociological criminological theory. It will additionally focus on three issues of contemporary significance relating Crime, Criminal Justice and the Media; Punishment and the State; and Gender, Sexuality and Justice.

Prisons, Power & Punishment

The aim of this module is for you to develop a critical understanding of the use, impacts and harms of imprisonment. It's designed to equip you with both the knowledge and the theoretical tools to engage in debates surrounding contemporary imprisonment. You'll learn about the diversity, complexity and international breadth of scholarship in the area of punishment and society scholarship. In particular, the module will draw from social theory, political science, critical gender studies, human rights and anthropological and narrative studies.

Qualitative Research Methods

This module will introduce you to the literature on qualitative research design and provide you will an understanding of different qualitative research methods, and their limitations. It will support you to apply essential knowledge and skills in conducting independent qualitative research.

Dissertation in Criminology

The aim of the module is to provide you with the opportunity to undertake a piece of independent research, which is of professional or academic relevance to you. This will be assessed on the basis of a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words. The work enables and requires you to draw on the skills and insights acquired in the taught research methods element of the Masters programme.

Choose two of the following:

Perspectives on Social Research

The aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of the philosophical underpinning of research methods practice in social science. This module will enable you to understand key debates in the philosophy of social science and equip you to not only understand the differences between key approaches to social science in terms of research design, but to critically assess different research designs in relation to ‘fit’ to proposed projects.

Welfare Concepts and Ideas

The aim of this module is to enable you to enhance your knowledge and understanding of some of the key concepts and ideas associated with the study of Social Policy, and to understand their relevance to the development, governance and implementation of welfare provision, alongside the key challenges facing contemporary welfare states.

Approaches to Welfare: Past, Present and Future

The aim of this module is to enable you to enhance your knowledge and understanding of some of the key issues associated with the development of welfare states in the UK and other countries. These issues will be considered within an explicitly historical and comparative framework. It will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the different ways in which different countries seek to meet the needs of their populations for health and social care, housing, education and social security, while exploring the key challenges faced by modern welfare systems.

International Social Work: Themes and Perspectives

The aim of this module is to help you develop a conceptual and theoretical understanding of global social issues, which concern human development, with a particular focus on the role of social work in addressing poverty and inequality and promoting human rights, social justice and development. You'll develop a critical appreciation of key themes and issues confronting social work practitioners globally and develop a critical understanding of the global agenda of social work, social development, through the lens of human rights.

Feminism, Gender & Violence

This module will provide you with an understanding of feminist frameworks for understanding, measuring and investigating gendered violence and the ways it intersects with other inequalities. It is an interdisciplinary module taught by staff from Media, Gender Studies, Social Policy, Criminology and Politics.

Learning & teaching

Across the modules, classes will comprise a mixture of lectures, seminars, group discussion and self-directed learning.


The distinct modules will be assessed using a variety of standard (for example, written assignments, examinations) and innovative, digital and creative methods applied across collective and individual projects.

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.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A first or upper second class degree, or overseas equivalent, in social sciences or related discipline. Applicants with other qualifications together with relevant professional experience may be considered.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 with no elements below 5.5.

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:

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-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

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

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

Our academics

Cara Jardine

Cara Jardine

Senior Lecturer

This MSc will enable students to make an informed contribution to global debates on criminological and social justice issues, and to develop important skills as critical thinkers and researchers, to take forward into their careers either within or beyond academia.
Laura Piacentini

Laura Piacentini

Professor of Criminology

This new and exciting Masters in Criminology and Social Policy is delivered by a top team of academic staff working in Criminology, Criminal and Social Justice and Social Policy. You will follow a flexible study programme that encourages you to develop critical understandings of key issues and themes in crime and criminalisation in the UK and globally.
Beth Weaver

Beth Weaver

Professor of Criminal & Social Justice

This will equip students with excellent practical, communication, and transferable skills who will leave well placed for a range of roles including criminological research, community safety, local authority, voluntary and charitable sectors. On completion of the degree, students will be able to demonstrate research skills which are valuable across many sectors in the criminal justice field.

Emma Christensen

I feel very lucky to continue my studies in criminology at Strathclyde. As an international student, the warm welcomes and encouragement I have received from both the faculty and my peers have made the transition easier. I am grateful to be surrounded by a community of supportive, knowledgeable, kind, and diverse people who have enhanced my experience.

Emma Christensen, PhD Criminology

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Fees & funding

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

Please note, for courses that have a January 2024 start date, 2023/24 academic year fees will apply. Courses that have a September 2024 start date, 2024/25 academic year fees will apply.

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 (or studying standalone modules) 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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Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full time - £8,700
Part-time* - £4,350

*Please note, Year 2 fee will be subject to an increase



Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Additional costs

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

  • EU Engagement Scholarships are available to EU applicants who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.
  • EU and International 50% Merit Scholarships available to self-funded, international fee-paying offer-holders (includes those classed as EU fee group). The scholarship entitles the recipient to a discount of 50% on tuition fees.
View all our scholarships
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This course is designed to appeal to:

  • prospective students wishing to progress to post-graduate study, and provides an important platform for further progression to PhD study in Criminology or Justice Social Work
  • those wishing to move into or advance their professional careers across justice related disciplines (for example, policing, prisons and social work) or progress into senior management within a Local Authority or other public, third or private sector organisations
  • those seeking a career in social science research within research organisations, charities, pressures/lobbying groups, independent or third sector organisations, and central or local government

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

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 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

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Start date: Jan 2025

Criminology and Social Policy (January intake)

Start date: Jan 2025

Start date: Jan 2025

Criminology and Social Policy (January intake)

Start date: Jan 2025

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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