Criminology and Society, MSc

Criminology and Society, MSc


New programme commencing September 2023!

Crime is a central concern for any community, and how society encourages, discourages, and responds to deviant behaviour and criminal activity is key to social order and sustainable and just social systems. Criminology, therefore, is not only about criminal justice and punishment, but also about society, and how individuals and communities perceive and respond to adverse conditions and deviant behaviour, and how they experience victimisation.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
Location of Study

The MSc in Criminology and Society focuses on these aspects of the study of crime and provides postgraduate students with advanced understanding of the social drivers of crime in society, the key concepts and practices of criminology as a field, and the theoretical and methodological tools necessary to contribute to criminology as a professional. Graduates of the programme will be equally prepared to enter the workforce or to pursue further education as a PhD student in criminology.

The MSc covers the key concepts and practices of criminology, including, for example, crime, deviance, victimisation, social control (i.e. policing and surveillance), and the study of social problems and issues. Crucially, it introduces students to the key societal developments which impact on crime, victimisation and social control, and the challenges this presents for criminologists and criminal justice agencies, locally, nationally and globally. This includes, for example, technological challenges and cyber-crime, urban problems and inequalities, peace and conflict. Students are also introduced to social theory or policy, and research methods, in order to equip them to complete their independent research project – the dissertation in Criminology and Society.

The MSc is aimed at students who are interested in criminology, and the study of crime and society. This includes those looking to further their studies at Masters level after undergraduate study, and those seeking to enhance their professional knowledge and skills via a return to study after time in work, i.e. those currently working in criminal justice sectors and contexts. It will equip you with the knowledge, theory, and practical research skills required to analyse and understand crime, deviance, victimisation, social control, and societal problems or undertake independent research.

This programme will also be valuable for those who wish to pursue further PhD studies in criminology and criminal justice.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Advanced Qualitative Methods in Social Science (SL5011)

30 Credit Points

Qualitative Sociology: Philosophy and Methods: This course introduces students to a range of methods used in qualitative social science research (such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, diaries, photography and film, and archived data sources). The emphasis will be on the research process, from project design to analysis and presentation, with methodological issues raised in the context of researchable questions. Issues of reliability, representativeness and validity, and the potential for combining methods will be addressed. Students use the course work to develop their research interests and reflect on their research practices.

Optional Courses

Plus, ONE from the following:

Advanced Social Theory (SO5014)

30 Credit Points

Karl Popper argued, wisely, at least this time, that all languages are theory-laden. In other words, if we are doing social science, it is impossible not to do theory, but we have a choice to do it well or poorly, informed by the thinking of others who have gone before us, or in ignorance of it. In this course we learn to reflect explicitly about that which may otherwise simply remain implicit in empirical sociological examination. In this project, we are assisted by important thinkers who have developed distinctive and influential ways of considering the social. We begin with classical sociological theory before moving on to the work of more recent social thought, giving students an advanced working knowledge of the most important theoretical tools available to jobbing social scientists.

Policy Evaluation (SO5015)

30 Credit Points

Institutions and organizations are today commonly demanding evidence-based policy formation. As a result, the necessary social research methods for Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) are in high demand. This course in Policy Evaluation is the core course in the MSc in Policy Evaluation and will equip graduates with the knowledge necessary to understand the current demand for, existing practices of, and substantial challenges to monitoring and evaluation of policy, implementation procedures, and impacts. The course serves as the primary topical course for this MSc and provides student with the theoretical and conceptual understanding of policymaking and programme implementation necessary to put M&E practices in context, and to better understand the need for specific M&E skills and how they might be best utilized across an array of work environments.

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Key Concepts and Practices of Criminology (30 credit points)

  • This course serves as the core course for the MSc in Criminology and Society. It introduces students to the ideas and approaches that are key to the study and practice of criminology. Students will develop an understanding of concepts such as crime, deviance, surveillance, punishment, recidivism, social cohesion and social order. These concepts are addressed through a sociological lens and provide the student with the advanced knowledge of criminological theory necessary to prepare them for a future career in related fields.

Optional Courses

Plus, select 30 credits from the following:

Urbanization, Crime and Social Problems (30 credit points)

  • This course addresses some of the key issues associated with the shift from living in the small to medium-sized communities of the middle ages, through the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the emergence of the sprawling global megalopolis of the 21st century. A central focus is on various ways in which urban development and city living have affected the relations, stability, cohesion and well-being of individuals and communities over time. Core questions will address concerns around the capacity of human beings to adapt to urban living, given that this way of life has arisen very recently in our history, and the social problems that have previously and are currently emerging as we have transitioned to becoming a predominantly urban species. Topics covered will explore key elements of city life such as work, housing, inequalities, social, spatial and political organisation, consumerism, communities and well-being, with a specific focus on social problems. With respect to the latter, the course will specifically address a broad range of the negative aspects of living in cities, including mental and physical health effects, substance abuse and a range of conditions that foster deviance, conflict, interpersonal violence and criminality. In approaching these important and topical issues the course will draw on a range of theoretical frameworks from classical social scientific theory to the latest developments in biosocial theory.

Applied Research Methods (15 credit points)

Sex, Gender, Violence: Critical Approaches (SO5519)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the ways people think about, understand, and respond to violence. How do we know what counts as violence or a violence act? Why does legislation against violence often seem inadequate, perhaps especially in the case of gendered and sexual violence?

Dimensions of Globalization (SO5512)

30 Credit Points

This interdisciplinary course focuses on substantive dimensions of globalization by considering recent changes occurring in the economic, political, social, and cultural realms of society. These themes are analysed by considering recent empirical studies, which seek to clarify our theoretical understanding of globalization through advanced social scientific research. The substantive themes covered include global capitalism, the global division of labour, global governance, the changing role of the nation state, transnational social change, and cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Interconnections between these aspects of globalization are highlighted.

The Comparative Study of European Societies (SO5515)

30 Credit Points

The core course will look at Europe as a society as well as by comparing different nations and regions within it. It will look not just at the European Union, but also countries that are also in the broadest sense “European” stretching to the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. It will address key contemporary issues such as citizenship and belonging, identities in a European context, work, family and the demographic challenge as well as work-life balance.

Peace and Conflict Studies (SO5529)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with a review of some of the central concepts and processes central to conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. As such, the course is designed both to introduce the theoretical foundations of particular approaches to conflict resolution (or “peacemaking”) and peacebuilding, and to describe how those theoretical underpinnings give rise to specific mechanisms or processes within given contexts. In the area of peacemaking the course will cover topics such as negotiation, mediation, and intergroup dialogue processes, while in the area of peacebuilding the course will discuss more recent innovations such as Truth-Telling mechanisms, Criminal Tribunals, and both individual and collection reparations programmes. The course is particularly designed to inspire students to consider the complicated nature of both peacemaking and peacebuilding through a number of different case studies and perspectives.

Advanced Quantitative Methods in Social Science (SL5512)

30 Credit Points

All researchers need to understand quantitative research, not only those who carry it out themselves. Everyone comes across quantitative research in literature reviews and even in the press. In this course students will acquire an understanding of the most common quantitative methods they are likely to use or come across in published social science research. The module will encompass different types of quantitative study and address issues such as when quantitative methods are appropriate, how quantitative questions are formulated, research design, sampling (both online and offline), scale construction, reliability and validity and ethical practices in quantitative research and design.

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Dissertation in Criminology and Society (30 credit points)

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Home / RUK £11,077
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Why Study Criminology and Society?

  • You'll be taught by a range of experts in criminology and sociology who are actively involved in research and projects which inform public and social policy. This includes, for example, areas such as criminal justice, policing, crime, victimisation, peace and conflict, gendered violence, globalisation, and urban space.
  • You will also be led by experts in social theory and qualitative and quantitative research methods. In addition to gaining a grounding in key criminological concepts and practice, and the study of societal problems, you will graduate with valuable research skills honed via your dissertation, and will be prepared for various careers in criminal justice, public, policy, academic and third-sector settings.
  • The core course of this MSc – Key Concepts and Practices in Criminology, is instrumental in providing students with a grounding in key criminological concepts such as crime, deviance, victimisation, social control, policing, justice and surveillance.
  • The MSc enables students to explore these key concepts in a creative and innovative manner, by applying them to key contemporary challenges and societal issues and problems.   In addition to the core theoretical and methodological concepts and debates in criminology, this programme offers a series of courses, teaching sessions, and guest lectures, which reflect the department’s expertise and current research in topics such as policing, victimisation, cyber-crime, peace and conflict studies, gendered and sexual violence, urbanization, and social policy.  
  • You will also complete your dissertation on an approved criminological topic chosen by you in consultation with a member of the Department faculty. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to draw upon the knowledge and skills you gain on the programme by undertaking a critical analysis of a relevant criminological topic. 

Entry Requirements

The MSc Criminology and Society is designed for you if you have a background in criminology or sociology, or if you wish to extend your knowledge of criminology to the postgraduate level. The programme is also suitable as a conversion degree for students with little or no previous experience of criminology.


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results, an applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme


  • Criminal justice agencies such as police, probation, prisons, security, national criminal justice agencies.
  • Social research organisations, social policy institutes, think tanks. Local and national government departments.
  • NGOs/Charitable organisations.
  • Further study at postgraduate level.

In particular there is a demand for graduates with criminology qualifications in criminal justice organisations such as policing etc.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Karen Lumsden

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX