1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Explore an exciting blend of criminology and criminal justice subjects – covering both theory and policy – and address key contemporary questions and debates.

Our MA is underpinned by our research expertise. You’ll be taught by experts in a wide range of theoretical and methodological areas. Our criminology research has focused on topics such as:

  • sexual violence
  • hate crime
  • sex work
  • women who kill
  • terrorism
  • policing
  • capital punishment
  • restorative justice
  • cultural criminology
  • existential criminology.

Our course also draws on expertise from the Sussex Law School, which will enable you to develop an interdisciplinary perspective.

Criminology is all about questioning the world through studying crime, deviance, social control and punishment, which makes it a great subject to teach and learn.”Dr Lizzie Seal
Senior Lecturer in Sociology/Criminology

Key facts

  • Learn from experts in their fields who shape the field of criminology and criminal justice studies.
  • Explore criminological theory and policy to see how conceptual frameworks can be applied to thinking about crime and society. 
  • Study in a lively and interdisciplinary intellectual environment, giving you the advantage of a wide-ranging knowledge set. 

How will I study?

Our core modules give you the necessary theoretical, methodological and empirical foundations. They cover:

  • criminology and criminal justice
  • debates in law
  • research methods.

Our options are taught by specialist academics based on their areas of expertise.

Teaching methods include lectures, workshops and seminars. Assessment modes include presentations, essays and briefing papers as well as a 15,000-word dissertation.

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to study this course full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. Modules for the full-time course are listed below.

For details about the part-time course, contact us at

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Criminology in Theory and Method

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

    • Issues in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module will provide you with an introduction to key contemporary issues in criminal law and criminal justice, with a view to enabling you to understand the main challenges facing the English and Welsh criminal justice system at the present time. Topics will include issues which highlight the contemporary problems facing both substantive criminal law and the justice system, including: youth justice and the age of criminal responsibility; overcriminalisation for example by new `inchoate type' offences in response to the threat to security; the relationship between personal autonomy and the criminal law; the difficulties in securing convictions for certain types of offences such as sexual violence and child abuse; the impact of gender upon both the substantive criminal law and criminal justice; prison overcrowding; and access to justice. You will discuss these topics from an interdisciplinary perspective, placing them within the context of human rights, social and political developments.

    • Criminology Dissertation

      60 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Students on the MA Criminology will design and conduct a research project in the area of criminology.

      You will be assigned a dedicated dissertation supervisor who will help to guide you from inception to delivery of the dissertation. The dissertation topic will be discussed and agreed upon by your supervisor.

      During the dissertation, you will be encouraged to critically employ qualitative and/or quantitative research methods to address some relevant theoretical or empirical questions/issues within the field of criminology.

      This will build upon the (also proposed) ‘Criminological Research Methods’ module within the MA Criminology. You will engage in regular personal meetings with their particular supervisor, which will take place across all three terms.

      There will also be 3 ‘dissertation workshops’ run by the teaching team. The topics of the workshops will cover writing the proposal, research ethics and risk procedures and data analysis.


    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Crimes of Hate and Violence (Spr)

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module examines a variety of violent crimes. Specifically, it focuses on hate crime, state violence/terrorism and murder. The underlying aim of the module is to understand motivations for violent crime and to critically assess appropriate criminal justice responses.

      The module will focus on three key areas of violent crime: hate crime, state violence/ terrorism and serial murder, which are areas of increasing topical and policy concern. Each will be examined in relation to policy and the lived reality for victims and offenders. The module examines different victim groups, which might include ethnic minorities, the disabled or women, situating them within the wider field of victimology. The aetiology of offenders will be examined, which spans people who commit 'everyday' violent crime to those who are passionately committed to extremism. Finally, you will evaluate cultural and media representations of violent crime. 

      On completion of the module you will have a more critical overview of crimes of hate and their policy responses.

    • Hate Crime and Sexual Violence

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will focus on issues relating to hate crime and sexual violence and the criminal justice system. The module starts by exploring the various conceptualisations of hate crime and how and why its definition has differed between jurisdictions. Focus is then given to the growing legislative responses to hate-motivated offences both in the UK and US. You will examine the extent to which the singling out of certain prejudiced motivations for enhanced sentencing (such as, racism, homophobia, anti-religion and disablism) can be justified. You then move on to explore the main criminological theories that have been put forward to explain the aetiology of hate crime. Attention is also give to research that has evidenced the often heightened levels of harm that such offences cause to both victims and minority communities more broadly. 

      The second part of the module focuses on sexual violence. You examine the reforms made to the law and practice with regards to sexual assault and will consider remaining issues, highlighting attrition and problems of attitude. Some academics have argued that sexual violence should also be classified as hate crime. As such you will explore the arguments for and against the inclusion of sexual violence under the label of hate crime, noting both the impacts that inclusion/exclusion under the label may have on the state's responses to such crimes. You will also examine the use of alternative criminal justice measures for hate crime and sexual violence. Particular focus is given to the use of restorative justice and you will assess the potential benefits and pitfalls of using such an approach.

    • International and Transnational Offending

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      In order to assess the effectiveness of legal responses to offending that cross national boundaries, it is essential that you gain an insight into the phenomenon itself, rather than merely into the legal responses which we have examined in International and Transnational Offending. This module explores the nature and extent of both state and sub-state or individual offending. It includes such examples as the use of torture, war crimes, economic criminality, including illegal arms and drug dealing, corporate crime, computer and share frauds and organised crime and international crimes of violence.

    • Youth Justice

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will examine how the law does and should respond to criminal and anti-social behaviour by children and young people. Given that much discussion of such behaviour tends to be extremely emotive and characterised by a rose-tinted view of the behaviour of previous generations of children, the module begins by reflecting upon the nature and extent of youth crime. Against the backdrop of contested constructions of childhood and children's rights it then explores the shifts in policy that have occurred in relation to offending by children. It examines how perceiving them as `children in trouble' to be helped or `young thugs' to be punished profoundly affects societal and legal responses. The increasingly tough approach taken by governments in recent years is scrutinised in the light of international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and sustained criticism from international bodies.
      The module goes on to examine the youth justice process, including pre-trial diversion and the sentencing of young offenders, including the increasing use of custody. 

      The module then examines a range of issues of current concern, including the age of criminal responsibility, the introduction of civil punitive orders such as ASBOs, the extent to which the state should make parents take responsibility for the actions of their children, the relationship between the media and youth crime and dangerous young offenders.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in a social science or humanities subject.

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship (2017)

Two full UK/EU fee waivers for students who hold an offer of a place on the MA in European Governance and Policy.

Application deadline:

31 July 2017

Find out more about the Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Meet the people teaching and supervising on your course.

  • Faculty profiles

    Dr James Hardie-Bick
    Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology

    Research interests: Criminology, Self-identity, Social Theory, Sociology, Violence

    View profile

    Dr Suraj Lakhani
    Lecturer in Criminology & Sociology

    Research interests: Counter-terrorism, Criminology, Deviance, Policing, Radicalisation, Sociology, Terrorism and political violence, Violent extremism

    View profile

    Dr Hannah Mason-Bish
    Lecturer In Sociology And Criminology

    Research interests: disability, gender, hate crime, Social constructionism, victims

    View profile

    Dr Paul McGuinness
    Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology

    Research interests: Alternatives to Incarceration, Desistance, Erving Goffman, Habermas, Penology, Restorative justice

    View profile

    Dr Lizzie Seal
    Senior Lecturer in Sociology/Criminology

    Research interests: Criminology, Cultural History, gender, Violence

    View profile

    Prof Dean Wilson
    Professor of Criminology

    Research interests: Border Control, militarisation, Policing, Surveillance, Technology

    View profile


You’ll gain practical abilities as well as critical and problem-solving skills valued in contemporary job markets. You will be able to apply your analytical skills to a range of careers in the criminal justice system as well as the public, private and voluntary sectors. The MA can also provide a strong foundation for further academic study or a career in research.

Graduate destinations

100% of students from the Department of Sociology were in work or further study six months after graduating (EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015 for postgraduates).

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work