Criminal Justice at Aberdeen will help you gain a greater understanding of the philosophies and policies underlying criminal procedures, human rights and the various criminal justice systems.

This programme is studied on campus.

The LLM in Criminal Justice at Aberdeen is focused on critical and comparative thinking around criminal procedures and systems. Our programme will help you develop a clearer, more truthful understanding of criminal law and its implementation in today's society around the world. You will learn about the causes of crime and how it is dealt with legally, enabling you to work in countries around the world. You will have the opportunity to study courses such as Criminal Evidence and Proof, Issues in Criminal Justice, Criminological Theories and International Criminal Law.

The Criminal Justice programme was designed with the assistance of external contacts as well the expertise of our internal staff at the University. With the combined input from our staff and Criminal Justice experts, you will gain unique insights into criminal justice systems around the world and will advance your understanding of their dynamics. The programme has been carefully coordinated to align with the competencies required for today’s international job market.

The University of Aberdeen prides itself on attracting world-class teaching staff with international experience and knowledge in their specialist subjects. You will have access to first rate teaching from globally respected staff, such as Programme Director Professor Pete Duff, who specialises in criminal justice, evidence and procedure. He has worked at the Centre for Criminological Research at the University of Oxford, the City University of Hong Kong and the University of the South Pacific.

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Key Programme 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
September or January

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning LLM programme which runs in September and January. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

Semester 1


The information listed below is for September start students. Information for January starts can be found under "Other Ways to Study".

All students must take two LS50xx courses and two LS55xx courses.

Compulsory Courses

All candidates must take the following course:

Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship (LS501T)

This compulsory course provides students from diverse legal and educational backgrounds with a common understanding of the core research, analytical, and writing skills which would be required to excel in LLM-Taught courses. It commences with a few lectures and progresses to working within smaller groups in a workshop environment and finally to the submission of an individual assignment. It also incorporates elements such as library workshops to provide students with hands-on experience with the resources available for course and dissertation work.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Four optional courses must be selected. Two should be selected from semester 1 and two from semester 2.

Alternatively, one of your four choices could be selected from another LLM programme (excluding LS501E, and LS551K).

Issues in Criminal Justice (LS5096) - Credits: 30

This course is comparative in nature and examines in depth certain aspects of the criminal justice process, focussing upon differences between the adversarial and inquisitorial models. Examples are mainly drawn from Scotland, England and continental Europe. Topics addressed include: prosecution systems; the position of the accused; the status granted to the victim; plea-bargaining; the trial process; and appeals. The emphasis is not so much on ‘black-letter law’ but on the principles and policies, often clashing, which underlie the detailed legal rules and regulations governing the relevant institutions and processes.

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Criminological Theories (LS501R) - Credits: 30

The course focuses on different theories that attempt to explain why people engage in criminal or deviant behaviour. We will examine explanations of crime/deviance that appeal to the following factors: 1) biological factors, 2) economic conditions and 3) environmental conditions. We will also consider theorists who analyse criminal behaviour in terms of the ‘labels’ social groups apply to different kinds of conduct. There are six 2hour seminars. Assessment consists in an exam (50%), an essay (40%) and a presentation (10%, which is assessed on a pass/fail basis).

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Semester 2

Optional Courses

Criminal Evidence and Proof (LS551R) - Credits: 30

This course is comparative in nature and examines in depth various, key evidentiary doctrines, focussing upon the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and differences in the approaches adopted by national jurisdictions. Topics addressed include: the nature of proof; expert evidence; vulnerable witnesses; hearsay; the right to confrontation; similar facts evidence; corroboration; and the presumption of innocence. The emphasis is not so much on ‘black-letter law’ but on the principles and policies, often clashing, which underlie the detailed legal rules and regulations governing the relevant types of evidence.

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Criminal Law (LS551S) - Credits: 30

The course examines topics of current interest in criminal law from a theoretical perspective. The course focuses on the moral principles and policy considerations underlying specific criminal laws, rather than taking a purely “black-letter law” approach. It considers how some of the most serious offences, such as murder and rape, should be defined and also examines various defences such as provocation, diminished responsibility, mental disorder, coercion and necessity.

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International Criminal Law (LS5597) - Credits: 30

The course explores the history, ambit and nature of ICL and the notion of individual criminal responsibility, issues of immunities, superior orders and subordinate responsibility. War crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression are also critically examined. National and international prosecution of international crimes with emphasis on the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and questions of international cooperation to suppress international crimes are carefully studied in light of relevant cases such as decisions of the Nuremburg and Tokyo tribunals, the ICC, ICTY and the ICTR (tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda respectively).

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Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Master of Law Dissertation (LS5904) - Credits: 60

Between May and mid-August students prepare a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice related to their specialist LLM programme. Students are instructed through the delivery of a preparatory lecture, two supervisory meetings and a two hour dissertation planning workshop in a small group setting. Students are expected to spend considerable time on independent research throughout the course of the dissertation module, including; preparation of dissertation plan, amendment of plan in accordance with supervisory comments, preparation for the dissertation workshop, and, of course, in the final 10,000 word dissertation itself.

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

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.

How You'll Study

On this LLM programme, you will enjoy an inclusive and friendly style of teaching. This open, sharing style allows our international students to exchange their individual experiences of their home country. You will benefit from being able to explore how criminal justice systems differ across many time zones.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

By course work, by written examination, or by a combination of these, as prescribed for each course. The degree of LLM shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CGS grade of D3 or above in the specified dissertation course, irrespective of their performance in other courses: such candidates may, at the discretion of the Examiners, be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate.

Why Study Criminal Justice?

Ever since the University’s opening in 1495, the Law School has played a pivotal role in Aberdeen’s history - and there’s no substitute for experience.

  • Our Law School is ranked 10th in the UK, out of more than 90 law schools (The Complete University Guide 2018).
  • In an LLM exit survey we carried out in 2016, 98% of students felt that their LLM had added value to their career prospects and 97% would recommend their course to others.

  • There are over 40 nationalities within the School of Law postgraduate community, so you will benefit from the experiences of international students from all over the world.

Students choose to study Law at Aberdeen because of our reputation for academic excellence and unrivalled student experience. At Aberdeen, you will:

  • Have the opportunity to learn from well-known criminal law experts, many of whom provide consultancy to major organisations around the world such as the Hague.
  • Join an elite group of students who have studied Criminal Justice at one of the world’s top universities.
  • Gain an advanced knowledge and understanding of the philosophies, policies and procedures within Criminal Justice systems, which will help you meet the requirements of today’s job market.
  • Acquire excellent observational skills, an aptitude for research and report writing and sharpen your analytical skills.
  • Benefit from the programme’s global perspective with a healthy mix of students from the UK and overseas.
  • Be taught in small learning groups, using an open teaching style and will have access to teaching staff whenever you need.

The University also has a leading Law careers service that organises events focused on providing you with the additional skills needed to make the most of your career potential. You will be part of a vibrant, close-knit community of students that provides a personal and friendly atmosphere where staff have the opportunity to know students by name and can closely monitor progress.

Entry Requirements


Normally a 2:1 honours degree in Law (or another related discipline) or equivalent.

Document requirements application, we require at least:

  • A full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and marks you achieved in your degree(s).
  • A detailed personal statement explaining your reasons for choosing this programme.
  • CV/Resume optional.
  • Reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability.

English Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

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.

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
a reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Tuition fee rates can be found on our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,000
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £14,300
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Many international students have gone on to work directly in the law profession back in their home countries. Others have even been funded by the UN have gone on to work all over the world, especially in the area of human rights.

Our Experts

Professor Pete Duff specialises in criminal justice, evidence and procedure. He has worked at the Centre for Criminological Research at the University of Oxford, the City University of Hong Kong and the University of the South Pacific. He was appointed as one of the first members of the new Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and was a Commissioner until 2007. He was also a member of the McInnes Committee on Summary Criminal Justice.

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.

Wide Ranging Experience for Students

Students can get involved in 'Lawyers Without Borders, Casus Omissus, European Law Students Assocication and more

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Law
University of Aberdeen
Taylor Building
AB24 3UB

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