Criminology and Social Research MSc

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Why Surrey?

Our unique emphasis on research methodology will sharpen your ability to think in a logical and informed manner about criminological problems, and to design, conduct and manage effective research and evaluation.

We’ve combined modules in academic criminology and the criminal justice system with training in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Programme overview

The combination of analytic criminological knowledge and applied research skills on this programme will equip you with a sophisticated understanding of the key challenges and perspectives in contemporary criminology.

The Masters in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research is aimed at graduates and practitioners with an appropriate first degree who seek advanced knowledge about issues connected with crime, deviance, control, the criminal justice system and social research.

It will also suit graduates and practitioners considering a PhD in this area; and practitioners in the criminal justice system and related government and voluntary agencies who wish to develop their understanding of the wider issues connected to crime.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

Example module listing

The following modules 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.

Students are encouraged to take up opportunities for experiential learning in workplace settings, providing extended opportunities for work experience and career development in professional research settings.

The department supports students in finding three-to-four week research placements during Spring and Summer vacation periods, and this approach has recently been supplemented to include strategies of support for students seeking a wider range of opportunities for professional development in the first-hand experience of research organisation – including such activities as part-time internships over longer periods, workplace visits, or shadowing research professionals.

This introduces further flexibility in a student-led process of professional development in light of increasing external pressures on students’ commitments and responsibilities. All, however, involve opportunities to consider issues in career development and professional skills.

The support process involves the Department working closely with students on a one-to-one basis toward their goals and requirements, in association with the University’s Careers Service, to offer pastoral advice and support.

Organisations the department has worked with in the past have included the Office of National Statistics, Cabinet Office, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Sussex Youth Offending team and Surrey Police.

In some cases the work experience may also be with projects in academic contexts. Students seek experiential learning opportunities with the support of the Department’s Senior Placement Tutor, and assistance from the Faculty Placement Office.

Educational aims of the programme

The MSc in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research (CCJSR) provides a thorough grounding in the discipline of criminology combined with advanced training in the full range of qualitative and quantitative methods of social research.

It is designed to meet the needs of students graduating from a first degree who have an interest in crime and the criminal justice system, people who are currently employed and wish to apply a knowledge of criminological research within their present job, or those who wish to move into a criminological research career.

The degree provides an ideal foundation to undertake a part-time or full-time PhD.

The degree is suitable for a wide range of students in terms of age, professional background, and current occupation and circumstances.

Because of this diversity of experience, students on the degree learn a great deal from each other, including at the residential Weekend Conference in the middle of the first semester, and the Day Conference at the end of the first semester.

The full-time MSc is taught over 12 months and the part-time course over 24 months. Students who do not wish to undertake the Masters dissertation can obtain the Postgraduate Certificate in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research after gaining 60 credits, or the Postgraduate Diploma after gaining 120 credits.

Students studying for the MSc in full-time mode are required to submit their dissertation during the academic year in which they commenced registration.

It is expected that students studying part-time will have obtained a minimum of 60 credits by the end of the first 12 months of registration in order to proceed into the second year.

Programme learning outcomes

On completing the MSc, students will have:

  • Gained experience in conducting an extended piece of criminological research of a high calibre
  • Obtained a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the discipline of criminology
  • Developed and demonstrated extensive knowledge about the core debates in academic criminology and the central issues in criminal justice policy
  • Understood how the concerns of criminology and the criminal justice system connect to and interact with wider social issues
  • Acquired and utilised practical knowledge of a range of different traditions and methods relevant to conducting criminological research, from survey research to field methods
  • Planned, manage and execute research as part of a team
  • Developed the analytic skills and substantive knowledge to enable them to pursue a successful career in academe, research institutes, or relevant government departments

Knowledge and understanding

  • Show critical awareness and understanding of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the discipline of criminology
  • Show systematic knowledge of basic principles of research design and strategy
  • Understand the use and value of a wide range of different research approaches across the quantitative and qualitative spectra
  • Appreciate the epistemological and ontological questions that underpin social research
  • Recognise the significance of social/political contexts and uses of research developed competence about the core debates in academic criminology and the central issues in criminal justice policy
  • Show engagement with innovations and developments in social research
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of research ethics

Intellectual / cognitive skills

  • Understood how the concerns of criminology and the criminal justice system connect to and interact with wider social issues
  • Acquired and utilised practical knowledge of a range of different traditions and methods relevant to conducting criminological research, from survey research to field methods
  • Systematically formulate researchable problems
  • Analyse qualitative and quantitative data drawn both from ‘real world’ and ‘virtual world’ environments, using basic and more advanced techniques, and draw warranted conclusions
  • Critically evaluate the range of approaches to research

Professional practical skills

  • Use the range of research techniques commonly employed in criminological research
  • Generate both quantitative and qualitative data through an array of techniques, and select techniques of data generation on appropriate methodological base
  • Employ a quantitative (SPSS) and qualitative software package to manage and analyse data

Key / transferable skills

  • Work to deadlines and within work schedules
  • Apply computing skills for research instrument design, data analysis, and report writing and presentation
  • Communicate ideas, principles and theories by oral, written and visual means


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.


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.

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £7,500 £17,500
Part-time Sep 2017 £3,800 £8,800

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 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

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Michael McGuire

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
MSc Full-time 12 months Sep 2017
MSc Part-time 24 months Sep 2017

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

IELTS 7.0 overall, 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

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.


Loans, scholarships and financial support

There are many streams of funding for postgraduate students including awards, scholarships and loans. Learn more.


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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.

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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 modules may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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