Criminology and Criminal Justice - MSc

2024/25 Part-time Postgraduate course


Master of Science


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences


Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2024


Develop advanced criminological skills tailor made for high impact careers in crime, justice and compliance.


Addressing the roots of crime at all levels of society to meaningfully achieve justice and support those harmed by crime are significant policy and practice challenges. These challenges increasingly take place in a globalised offending landscape which demands transnational thinking.

The MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice will immerse you in cutting-edge knowledge, techniques and approaches. It is designed to generate critical thinkers and skilled practitioners who are equipped to improve criminal justice outcomes, effectively challenge harmful crime trends at a regional, national and international level and tackle complex social issues like marginalisation, inequality, and impunity.

If you want to open-up new career horizons, the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice is your professional gateway.

The MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice provides you with industry leading knowledge and essential skills, through an advanced programme of criminological study grounded in active learning and critical thinking methodologies. The MSc offers a rich range of opportunities to advance your research and professional profile. Modules immerse learners in cutting edge ideas and methods used to tackle crime, harm, injustice and disadvantage, locally, nationally and internationally. For more information on modules, click the following video links:

Ranked in the top 10% of UK universities in the UK’s Research Excellence Framework for outstanding impact on policy and practice, criminology at Ulster has a strong reputation for quality student experience, consistently achieving over 90% satisfaction in the National Student Survey. We have strong research and industry links in Northern Ireland, other parts of the UK, Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, spanning all aspects of practice including policing, forensics, restorative justice, victims, drugs, the courts, prisons, desistence, human rights, corporate compliance, anti-fraud, anti-money laundering, counterterrorism, and anti-corruption. This expertise informs the content of teaching, ensuring it is grounded in real-life problems and scenarios, where criminological theory, skills and methods are used to examine and challenge injustice.

As a dedicated and enthusiastic team of internationally recognised scholars, we are committed to critical criminology, evidence-based policy and practice, and investing in students personal, academic and professional development. The degree responds to growing industry demand for applied knowledge and practical understandings in areas such as crime prevention, designing out crime, restorative justice, cybercrime, white-collar crime, digital forensics, victim support and evidence-based policy and practice. By responding to these demands through innovative curriculum, the MSc enhances graduate prospects within the applied field of criminology and criminal justice across the academic, private, public and voluntary sectors.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


The degree is taught through flipped, blended and active learning modules, with an emphasis on applying and testing knowledge to real-life case studies and scenarios. Each module will be delivered through a flexible combination of online content which supports students to prepare and participate on campus in a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and peer group learning, led by leading experts and practitioners. The full-time MSc lasts one calendar year with full-time students normally required to be on campus for five to six hours per week, over two days, during Semester One (Sept-Jan) and Semester Two (Jan-May). Dissertations are conducted during Semester Three (June-Sept).

The part-time MSc lasts two to three years and students would be expected to be on campus one day per week. It takes 5/6 semesters of study to complete the part-time programme.

Both programmes will be supplemented with seminars and lectures by visiting academics and practitioners.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The MSc is structured around active learning methods. Essential knowledge is delivered in advance of class through the University’s online learning platform Blackboard. This allows class time to be a hands-on experience where learners are able to test their understanding and skills through real-life situations and obtain feedback from academic staff and practitioners.

A broad range of teaching and learning methods are used on the MSc which are designed to promote critical thinking, reflexivity, and teamwork. These include lectures, seminars, supervised group-work sessions, presentations and workshops with expert practitioners, case study work, online learning and directed readings. Lecture material will be accompanied by podcasts, videos and handouts.

Class based activities allow students to apply their learning to real life problems and scenarios through the completion of group discussions, debates, presentations, and direct reading tasks among others. Students will also acquire key skills in survey research design and data analysis using a large survey dataset.

Learners also benefit from individual research supervision for the dissertation part of the programme.

Assessments are closely aligned to module and degree learning outcomes. They are designed to motivate learners to actively engage with course content and to test their learning. To do this, we set assessments that emulate real-life professional scenarios and challenges. The assessments dove tail with learning activities in class, where students hone their knowledge, skills, and craft, so they can demonstrate excellence in the assessment exercise. Assessments can include presentations, case study reports, policy briefs, reflective accounts, data analysis tasks, posters, research proposals and the dissertation. Forward looking individual oral and written feedback is provided to learners, so they can address gaps in knowledge and strengthen their skill base.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus


High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

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Student Wellbeing

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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Foundations of Social Science Research

Year: 1

This module will introduce students to some of the key concepts, ideas and debates in social science research. The module will also introduce students to the main stages in the research process, the main approaches and methods and will give students a firm foundation in the basics of social research that will prepare them for other research methods modules.

Victims and Restorative Justice

Year: 1

The module will empower students to develop a range of theoretical and practical understandings of victims, restorative justice, restorative practice and associated applications. Students will reflect critically on the diversity of evidence-based methods and approaches, and the need to evaluate personal and sector practices and explore the history of restorative approaches and the ways in which different practices have developed.

Contemporary Perspectives on Risk and Security

Year: 1

This module is designed to introduce students to key security and risk theories within criminology and criminal justice and the implications for civil liberties. It also enables students to critically apply these theories to contemporary empirical examples.

Survey and Quantitative Methods

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides students with a thorough knowledge of survey research and quantitative analysis. It takes students from an introduction to the principles and practice of elementary techniques through to use of advanced quantitative methods. Topics covered include survey methods and sampling as well as univariate, bivariate and multivariate techniques. Practical applications are used to give the student experience of data handling, analysis, inference and results presentation.

Year two

Global Landscapes of Crime and Justice

Year: 2

This module is suitable for students who seek careers in global policy analysis, security, consultancy, anti-money laundering, compliance and enforcement. The module equips students with a range of transferable skills sought after by employers in statutory and non-governmental organisations. These include opens source intelligence, data analysis and management, independent research, project management, presentation and dissemination.

MSc Criminology Dissertation

Year: 2

This module enables students to develop and apply criminology and criminal justice analysis and research skills in a 15,000 word dissertation. The dissertation represents a sustained period of independent work which addresses a research question or issue in the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Social Action for Peace and Justice: A Community Development Approach

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module is designed as an integrated social sciences paradigm infused with a co-production theme.

The content is fashioned to raise the awareness of students to injustices oppression and discrimination that are embedded in personal, cultural and structural frames of reference. They will be challenged to explore how to tackle these issues using a community development approach that leads to sustainable social action.

The module is primarily focused on emancipatory praxis to promote critical dialogue and social action using a community development lens.

Critical Perspectives on Punishment

Year: 2

This module is optional

In a speech to the House of Commons in 1910, then Home Secretary Winston Churchill claimed that, 'the mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country'. Critical Perspectives on Punishment will offer students the opportunity to engage with a range of debates on how punishment is understood and represented in society. It will encourage a critical appraisal of both how and why we punish, and what the answers to these questions can tell us about the societies we live in.

Qualitative Research Methods

Year: 2

This module is optional

The module will introduce students to essential features of qualitative research through: conceptualizing research, constructing appropriate and effective data collection instruments, accessing archived data, interpreting and presenting research findings. Throughout, the module explores issues of ethics, access and accountability; and issues of application and limitation of different qualitative approaches in different exampled research contexts. This module is designed to introduce participants to approaches to research with groups who are most impacted by social inequality and to understand the ethical issues that apply to research with 'vulnerable groups', a term that is used here in the sense in which it is used by ethics approval committees. By the end of the module, students are expected to be conversant with qualitative research perspectives and methods, skilled in the techniques of qualitative research design and data collection, and competent in both manual and computer-aided qualitative data analysis (Nvivo), and will be required to demonstrate their newly acquired competencies through coursework.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have a second class honours degree or better in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law or a cognate discipline from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard.

Where an applicant has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Careers & opportunities

Career options

Completing the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice opens up a range of unique career opportunities. There is increasing demand across the public, private and voluntary sectors for graduates and professionals with an applied knowledge and practical understanding of crime, its drivers, societal impacts, and the strengths and limitations of evidence-based methods used to address crime. Graduates go on to careers in areas such as law enforcement and regulation, victim support, offender rehabilitation, restorative practice, community development, corporate compliance, forensic auditing, criminal justice research, crime prevention (including designing-out crime), cybercrime, advocacy, and policy making. The knowledge, skills and techniques developed by MSc students are transferable across sectors and regions placing them in a strong position within a globalised job market.

Employability is also enhanced through the provision of advanced research methods training, practice, training and opportunities to apply criminological theory to real life policy and practice scenarios. These skills equip students to pursue careers across all sectors in a wide range of areas, including human rights, criminal justice, social justice, compliance, law, education, conflict resolution and psychosocial interventions among others.

Work placement / study abroad

The Criminology and Criminal Justice team have strong research and industry links with a range of public, private, voluntary and community organisations and can help to facilitate internships opportunities for students who wish to gain practical work experience during or after the course.


Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.

For modules commenced in the academic year 2024/25, the following fees apply:

Credit Points NI/ROI/GB Cost International Cost*
5 £194.45 £474.70
10 £388.90 £949.40
15 £583.35 £1,424.10
20 £777.80 £1,898.80
30 £1,166.70 £2,848.20
60 £2,333.40£5,696.40
120 £4,666.80£11,392.80
180 £7000.20£17,089.20

NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.

*International student access to courses is subject to meeting visa requirements. More information can be found in the Visas and Immigration section.

Scholarships, awards and prizes

The Fisk Prize for Transnational Crime Investigation.

Best Postgraduate Criminology Dissertation.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
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For student testimonials, see the below video links.

Tobias Niblock

Yasmin Doyle