Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research MSc

This programme will enable you to think logically, design, conduct and manage effective research and evaluation.

Why Surrey?

This programme combines modules in academic criminology and the criminal justice system with training in the full range of qualitative and quantitative research methods. This combination of analytic criminological knowledge and applied research skills ensures that you will develop a sophisticated understanding of the key issues, problems and perspectives in contemporary criminology, enabling you to pursue a successful career in academia, research or criminology/criminal justice policy or practice areas.

Programme overview

Our unique emphasis on research methodology means that you will be able to think logically and in an informed manner about criminological problems, and be able to design, conduct and manage effective research and evaluation.

The programme is aimed at applicants with the following academic interests or professional experience:

  • Graduates with an appropriate first degree who are interested in gaining advanced knowledge about issues connected with crime, deviance and control, and social research.
  • Graduates and practitioners conducting research on crime, deviance or the criminal justice system, or considering a PhD in this area.
  • Practitioners in the criminal justice system and related government and voluntary agencies who wish to develop and expand their knowledge of the wider issues connected to crime and its control, and social research.

Module Overview

For students undertaking full-time study, the programme runs for two semesters (12 months). Students on the part-time mode of study will undertake modules over four semesters (24 months, attending one day per week - Fridays in Year 1 and on Tuesdays in Year 2).

Compulsory Modules

Crime and Offending

This module critically addresses the nature and extent of crime and offending, drugs and antisocial behaviour, and the strategies to prevent and reduce the occurrence of crime.

Criminal Justice System

This module focuses on all the key components of the criminal justice system: policing and the police, the courts and sentencing, prisons, probation and community penalties.

Criminological Theory

You will gain familiarity with the main theories that have been proposed to explain criminal behaviour and justify punishment and other responses to offending.

Data Analysis

The aim of this module is to provide you with a grounding in the basic principles of quantitative data analysis and statistical methods.

Field Methods

This module aims to provide students with a firm methodological basis for conducting various forms of qualitative analysis. Principal data sources are observational fieldnotes, interview transcripts and video.

Research: From Design to Dissemination

This module aims to develop students’ research skills through the design and conduct of a small-scale collaborative research project. The practical experience on the project is supported through specific training in research-based skills and professional development. Through taking this module, students will come to understand the practices and procedures involved in initiating, managing and disseminating a research project.

Law, Society and Social Control

This module explores how law interacts with other modes of social control in relation to various aspects of the institutional and structural orders of contemporary societies.

Evidence Based Practice in Crime and Criminal Justice

This module examines the ways in which research methods can inform practice and policy in the CJS to ensure that it is evidence based.

Workshops in Advanced Methods

This unassessed series of workshops and lectures introduces students to a range of innovative and advanced research methods. These provide an opportunity to gain an appreciation of developments in methods for collecting and analysing data, to reflect on the pragmatics of their use and to gain some hands-on experience of the techniques involved. Topics may include: data management using qualitative software; focus groups; geographic information systems; random control trials in social research; latent variables / structural equation models; multilevel modelling; event history modelling; and longitudinal data analysis.


Students individually research a topic and prepare a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words.

Criminology Modules

The modules on criminology examine the extent of crime, the operation of the criminal justice system, and legal and social construction. Established and leading-edge perspectives and techniques that have been applied to problems of crime and its control are covered. They include:

  • Measuring and auditing levels of crime
  • Sexual and violent crime
  • Criminal intelligence analysis
  • Crime investigation techniques
  • Sentencing, prisons, punishment and community controls
  • Theories of law and social control
  • Multi-agency frameworks
  • Risk management and regulatory compliance frameworks
  • Policing paradigms
  • Surveillance, new technology and control
  • Risk assessment and prediction
  • Crime reduction and community safety
  • Domestic violence

Research Methods Modules

The modules on research methods cover both qualitative and quantitative techniques. These include:

  • Designing and implementing evaluation measures for criminal justice programmes
  • Statistical inference and modelling
  • Data management with SPSS
  • Interview techniques for social science research
  • Field methods and observational techniques
  • Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis


A variety of teaching methods is used. In addition to formal lectures, you will participate in workshops and undertake individual practical assignments. You will have full access to University and departmental facilities and resources, including a well-equipped computer laboratory with a wide range of statistical packages and qualitative data analysis software.

Teaching Hours

The total contact time for core assessed modules is 194 hours. Students may opt to spend time undertaking additional, non-assessed modules. We do not estimate self-study time in our module totals.


A distinctive component of the MSc is the opportunity to undertake a placement at a criminal justice agency or research institute for four weeks during the spring break. The practical experience and insights gained reinforce formal learning.


Scholarships for 2015/16 Entry

Two scholarships of up to £3,000 each will be available to students across the Department of Sociology's three MSc programmes, to be awarded on a competitive basis to self-funding students accepting an offer of an MSc place for the academic year 2015/16. Please visit the Department of Sociology webpages for application details and deadlines.

The Department of Sociology has a strong track record of attracting ESRC funding for PhD students. We manage the ESRC-funded South East Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), which offers doctoral training in association with the Universities of Kent, Reading and Royal Holloway. The MSc Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research can comprise the training component of a 1+3 PhD studentship in Sociology within the Doctoral Training Centre. Opportunities to apply for ESRC doctoral funding via the South East Doctoral Training Centre will be advertised annually on the DTC website.

Department of Sociology

The Department is a leading centre of applied social research and methodological innovation, with an international reputation for excellence in both research and teaching. We were ranked 5th out of all sociology departments in the UK by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015, reflecting our commitment to high-quality teaching and research. In the 2014 REF exercise we were ranked in the UK's top 15 sociology departments, and in the top 12 for world-leading 4* research. Eight members of staff comprise the Criminology and Criminal Justice Group; they all teach on the MSc programme and are active in research on criminological topics including policing, prisons, sentencing and offending.


A residential weekend conference is attended by all programme members, PhD students and teaching staff in November. This provides a less formal atmosphere for discussions concerning criminology, research and related themes; it includes lectures from eminent guest speakers and members of staff, seminars and small group discussions.

The Department also organises a day conference for MSc students at the University, with student presentations and guest speakers.

Sociology Research

The Department of Sociology is internationally recognised as a centre of research excellence. A particular area of strength is research methodology and research training. Our research is organised into six groupings which reflect contemporary concerns:

  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Developments in Methodology
  • Identities, Generation and Everyday Life
  • Media, Culture and Communication
  • Science, Environment and Technologies
  • Work, Organisations and Inequalities

In addition to the research groups, members of staff undertake a wide variety of internationally renowned individual scholarship including work on gender, employment, organisations, cross-national survey, culture, ethnicity, language and communication, sociological theory, childhood, youth and identities, sociology of sleep and the sociology of social policy.

Three leading journals are edited in the Department:

  • Ethnic and Racial Studies
  • Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS)
  • Popular Communication: International Journal of Media and Culture

The Department’s commitment to developing technical competence in research methods, and encouraging the use of appropriate information and communication technologies in social research, is reflected in the fact that it houses the UK national centre for software for qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS). The Centre for Research on Simulation in the Social Sciences (CRESS) applies computer simulation to the understanding of social phenomena.

The Department’s Institute of Social Research runs a successful international fellowship scheme which enables international researchers to visit Surrey each year. These strengths in research, and in innovative research methods in particular, feed into our master’s-level teaching and inform the continued updating of content within modules. A further departmental research centre, the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG), brings together social scientific expertise to conduct policy-relevant research on gender and ageing. There are also strong research links between members of the Sociology Department and the Digital World Research Centre.


Recent graduates from the programme have been appointed to posts in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Others have joined the police service as police officers, researchers or crime analysts. Several have joined commercial research companies, firms of solicitors and voluntary sector organisations involved in criminal justice issues (including domestic violence and missing persons).

Several students are pursuing PhD research study and part-time students are continuing their careers.

Professional recognition

The programme has Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognition for providing an appropriate foundation to undertake a part-time or full-time PhD.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Michael McGuire

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

Applications are welcomed from those who have an undergraduate degree (typically a 2:1) in criminology, social, behavioural or human sciences, law or a related discipline, or a professional qualification or experience relevant to the MSc degree.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £7,000 £15,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £3,500 £7,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.