MSc Crime and Justice

MSc Crime and Justice


The MSc Crime and Justice focuses on contested notions of ‘Crime’ and ‘Justice’. The overall aim of the MSc is to facilitate the development of a deeper knowledge and understanding of central issues and debates in the criminal justice arena and related areas. This postgraduate course will allow students to examine in-depth criminological issues and to question and critically evaluate debates around notions of crime and justice both in philosophical and practice related ways, and from a variety of different perspectives.

The MSc Crime and Justice places emphasis on policy and practice in the contemporary UK, however, where possible students , will be encouraged to draw on wider theoretical resources drawn from an international stage. Students will be encouraged to focus on research areas they are particularly interested in. 

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Entry Requirements

A minimum 2:2 Honours degree in a social science, or related discipline.

Applicants with established professional experience will be considered on an individual basis via the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)/Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) mechanism (University regulations will apply).

The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.


The guiding philosophy of the MSc Crime and Justice is based upon the multi-faceted discipline that is criminology, which not only focuses upon the offender, types of crime and responses to them, but offers a much wider perspective by looking at societal issues such as violence and substance misuse therefore providing students with impactful knowledge and experience to challenge these issues in their future careers. The aim of this MSc is to develop a critical knowledge and understanding of central issues and debates over the broad spectrum of crime and justice.

Criminological Theory

Criminological theory addresses one of criminology’s fundamental questions: why do some individuals get involved in crime and deviance? In attempting to answer this complex question, criminological theorists have produced different theories developed in different disciplinary, social, and political contexts in the Global North.

Research Project

Initially, students will be introduced to general research issues and considerations that underpin research in social sciences and criminal justice. Students will explore key issues that are common to all scholarly research projects, which includes developing a critical understanding of the philosophies, paradigms and theories that set the broad context of research approaches and conventions used in social science and criminal justice research.

Globalisation and Crime

Much of the crime occurring at societal level has complex global/transnational connections, which could not be fully understood and/or responded to by national states. This module, therefore, will focus on studying key forms of transnational crime including cyber, drug trafficking, human trafficking, the military-industrial complex and arms trafficking, terrorism and counterterrorism, and environmental.

Drug Interventions

The characteristics and nature of drug misuse and people who misuse drugs. The module will examine individual drug types and explore the effects that drugs have on users (including individual and social harms). The extent of drug misuse in the UK, and selected other countries, will also be considered. 

Violence and Homicide

The module begins by deconstructing the phenomena of violence in general and homicide in particular, attuning students to the socially constructed nature of these ‘crime’ categories.  Students will be encouraged to think critically about the legal categories of violence/homicide and to reconsider their boundaries through consideration of broader societal harms. This will be achieved, in part, by a deep dive into corporate violence.  

Governing and Securing Cyberspace

To develop critical examination and analytical skills of concepts and frameworks in internet governance and cyberspace. Furthermore, to facilitate students’ masterly knowledge in the legal, sociocultural and ethical issues within the governance and security of cyberspace.

Comparative Crime and Punishment

This module aims to critically explore comparative perspectives on crime and punishment locally, nationally, and globally. The module will explore how various criminal justice systems respond to crime, explore methods of punishment, and alternative responses.


Taught by a team of lecturers with long-standing expertise in the field, you will learn through a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Teaching is on a Wednesday between 10:00 and 16:00 and this is likely to remain the pattern in the future. Each module is taught over a 4-week period. Full-time students attend every week during term-time and part-time students attend when their modules are being taught. 

Most of the MSc modules make good use of expert guest speakers. These are usually professionals whose expertise and experience can help students consider the links between theory and practice and bring particular areas of practice ‘to life’ for students. Recent guest lecturers have included speakers from the police, prison and probation services, youth justice, substance misuse agencies, and Welsh Government.

The Centre for Criminology has a long history of research on the probation service and custodial institutions, and related topics such as the rehabilitation and resettlement of offenders, effectiveness and accountability in policy and practice, inter-agency partnerships and relationships between the criminal justice system, the Third Sector and the UK and Welsh governments. It also conducts high-quality research into the use of drugs and alcohol, violence and homicide, and criminal investigation.


Assignments are assessed in a range of ways. The majority involve written essays and some form of examination, but individual presentations, reflective work, text analysis and other approaches are also used. The MSc award requires a dissertation of around 18,000 words on an individual piece of research on a topic that you agree with your supervisor, which may be work-related.


Our Hydra Simulation Suite allows our students to experience real world scenarios and challenges. We believe that our students should be challenged and be ready to face challenges when they are in the world of work.

Our Simulation Suite allows our students to immerse themselves in case studies and make decisions that require clear rationales. It means that our students really can learn from their mistakes without impacting others or losing marks.

We want our students to learn and discuss key theory, but we want them to be able to use and apply that in a meaningful way that helps them and others.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


Upon successful completion of this Master’s degree you could pursue a career in the criminal justice system, such as the police, courts, prison, probation services and youth offending services. Graduates can also progress to a PhD or research degree.

Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.


Full time

Complete your degree in the shortest possible time and study flexibly – when and where suits you!


You’ll study 9 modules in total (approx. 37 hrs/week).

Part time option one

Study for a degree whilst fitting it around your work, care and other life commitments.


You’ll study 6 modules per year (approx. 25 hrs/week).

Part time option two

Take time to study and spread the tuition fees over a longer period – at no extra cost.


You’ll study 4–5 modules per year (approx. 19 hrs/week).

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