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Durham University


L370 Criminology BA Undergraduate  2021


Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.

For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

UCAS code L370
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


In broad terms, Criminology is concerned with understanding crime, deviance and criminal justice.  Criminologists ask, for example, why it is that some people are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of crime than others; how crime can be effectively controlled and prevented; and even how we come to define particular activities as “criminal” or not in the first place.

Overall, the course progressively develops your critical understanding of Criminology through the examination of key concepts and theories as well as substantive issues related to crime and criminal justice.  Alongside this, the course teaches critical analytical and methodological skills to equip students with the practical expertise required to engage with and carry out Criminological research.  As such, by the end of the course, graduates will be able to draw upon conceptual and empirical material to critically analyse complex Criminological issues in a scholarly fashion.

The degree is based on a modular structure, with students required to take the equivalent of six modules (some of which may be ‘double modules’) within each year of study.  Over the course of the degree, modules become increasingly focused on specialist topics and issues, with the chance to undertake a Sociological research project on a specific topic of substantive interest in the final year of study.

Year 1

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of foundational concepts and issues related to crime, criminal justice and Criminological research, as a platform for study in years 2 and 3.

Compulsory modules:

  • Criminal Justice Landscape
  • Critical Scholarship in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Criminological Theory
  • Social Research Methods

Optional module:

  • Any open module to the value of 20 credits offered elsewhere in the Department (e.g. Classical Sociological Theory or Societies in Transition) or by another Board of Studies, including appropriate credit-bearing language modules offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Year 2

Students will develop their understanding of key issues in Criminological theory and research building on work completed during the first year of study.  Students will also begin to study in detail various topics of substantive Criminological relevance that relate to the Department’s major research themes.

Compulsory modules:

  • Contemporary Criminological Theory
  • Research Methods in Action

Optional modules:

  • Communities and Social Justice
  • Crime, Power and Social Inequalities
  • Modern and Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Police and Policing
  • Self, Identity and Society
  • Sociology of Education and Social Inequalities
  • Sociology of Health and Medicine
  • Violence and Abuse in Society
  • Any open module to the value of 20 credits offered elsewhere by another Board of Studies, including appropriate credit-bearing language modules offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Year 3

In the final year of study, students focus on detailed critical analysis and evaluation of salient social issues drawing upon conceptual knowledge and understanding developed over the previous two years of study.  Students will also undertake an independent research project related to a specific area of Sociological interest through their dissertation thesis.

Compulsory module:

  • Dissertation

Optional modules:

  • Community Placement
  • Crime, Justice and the Sex Industry
  • Cyberculture and Cybercrime
  • Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Social Policy
  • Sociology of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation
  • Sociology of Work and Professions
  • Feminist Anti-Violence Activism (short module)
  • Justice, Violence and Abuse (short module)
  • Youth in Crisis (short module)
  • Sociology of Mental Health (short module)
  • Sociology of Reproduction and Parenthood (short module)
  • Any open module to the value of 20 credits offered by another Board of Studies, including appropriate credit-bearing language modules offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Every year, we review course structure and core content in light of (e.g.) external and student feedback, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2021 entry from September 2020. This means that the above should be taken as indicative of what the course offers rather than an exact reflection as some specific details may change. 

You can find out more about this course by watching our film.

Study Abroad

We are part of the ERASMUS programme which encourages you to study for part of your course in a university of another EU country.

We currently have links with the universities of Helsinki in Finland and Duisburg-Essen in Germany. You can also apply to the university-wide international exchange programme with universities in North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

The BA Criminology course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, research-based workshops, individual supervision of research-based assignment and guided independent work through learning technologies. 

Lectures provide key information on the key conceptual tools, methodologies, research and scholarship in the subject area. They also expose you to the skills of research synthesis and note taking.

Seminars are intended as guided, small group discussions of the subject area. They rely on independent study outside the degrees formal contact hours to be effective. They provide key learning scaffolding opportunities for your development of skills of conceptualisation and contextualisation, which are key for this course. You will also develop public speaking skills and research synthesis abilities.

Research-based workshops allow you to develop practical, hands-on experience of research in the subject area in the context of small group discussion and team working. Workshops are also useful for developing collaborative work skills as well as information gathering and analysis skills.

The balance of these learning contexts changes over the course of the degree, as you develop your knowledge and understanding of the subject and increase your confidence and abilities as independent, autonomous and critical learners. This is crucial not only for your integration into the social science community but also for success in diverse professional and working environments, as well as further study.

In the first year, you will develop foundational knowledge and understanding of key concepts and issues in the field of Criminology. At level one, you are expected to attend an average of six hours of lectures per week, as well as around six hours of small group-based teaching fortnightly, during the first two terms. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge.

In the second year, the balance begins to shift, as you enhance your ability as an independent learner. You will engage with more advanced conceptual and theoretical issues as well as a range of skills and knowledge related to research design and practice.  While lectures still play an important role in supporting you to develop your understanding and analytical skills, small-group classes and independent work come to the fore, in the form of student-led seminars, research-based workshops and practical classes, and so on.  While on average you have the same volume of contact time compared with the first year, more of that time is spent with you taking the lead and drawing more explicitly on independent preparatory work.

The final year of study also has a number of unique study opportunities.  The dissertation module provides an opportunity to put into practice research skills you have developed in earlier years. While this project is completed on a largely independent basis, you receive guidance in the form of one-to-one supervision sessions with an academic member of staff in addition to general workshops addressing common themes and issues. Further, through the Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice module, you have the opportunity to learn about Criminological issues studying alongside local prison inmates.  The Community Placement module also provides an opportunity for you to apply your criminological skills and knowledge in a working environment while acquiring valuable work experience.

Across the course, assessment is primarily coursework based with essays, reports, portfolios and so on constituting around 80% of your final grade, depending on exactly what modules you take.

In addition to one-to-one supervision which you receive as part of your dissertation, your year tutor will provide general support and guidance on your studies across the course. Alongside this, all staff maintain regular office hours during which you are welcome to meet on a drop-in basis and can be seen by appointment at other times.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offerAAB.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • While not essential, applicants who have studied at least one strongly essay-based subject prior to entry will be better prepared for this course and preference may be given to such applicants over those who have not. A non-exhaustive list of example essay-based subjects includes: Business Studies, Criminology, English, Geography, History, Politics, Psychology, Religion/Philosophy and Sociology
  • We also welcome applications from those holding or studying for qualifications equivalent to those standard requirements, such as an Access to HE Diploma, Cambridge Pre-U Diplomas, etc. Common alternatives are outlined here but contact University Admissions for advice if you cannot find your qualifications listed
  • We do not include General Studies, Critical Thinking or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as part of an offer, although any of these (especially the EPQ) may strengthen the overall quality of an application
  • Offers one grade down from the standard A level offer may be made to applicants who show special merit and potential in their applications, while offers up to two grades down from the standard offer will be made in line with the University’s Guaranteed Contextual Offer policy.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry 

We endeavour to make offers as quickly as possible, however, we are committed to the principle of equal consideration, which means that any application made to us through UCAS by the deadline of the 15th January has a chance of being considered for an offer. Because of this, we cannot make all our decisions straight away when they reach us, so we may not inform some applicants who applied as early as September of our decision until March. However, we do this because each application really matters to us and we want to make offers to those applicants who show the strongest merit and potential in their application.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £21,730.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £21,730.00 per year

The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

Sociology and Criminology

Further details on career opportunities can be found here:

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Sociology and Criminology



Explore crime, deviance and criminal justice as social issues.

Criminology is concerned with understanding crime, deviance and criminal justice. Criminologists ask, for example, why it is that some people are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of crime than others; how crime can be effectively controlled and prevented; and even how we come to define particular activities as “criminal” or not in the first place.

  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.


Develop a sophisticated understanding of societies and social issues. In broad terms, sociology seeks to understand the relationship between individual people and the wider cultural and institutional contexts within which they live. In doing so, it strives not only to make sense of social and cultural systems but also bring about transformative social change, drawing upon the systematic study of social issues to challenge inequalities and to inform the development of effective, evidence-based policy and practice.

  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Social Policy and Administration 2020.


For a current list of staff, please see the Department of Sociology web pages.


The library’s resources for the study of criminology are among the best in northern Britain, and college libraries also hold copies of some of the main textbooks. We make extensive use of duo (Durham’s online teaching resource), and undergraduates can enjoy the use of the resources room within the Department, which has additional published material and networked computer access.


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