Select your course options:
Why choose the School of Applied Social Sciences
Over 95% of our Health and Social Care graduates are in employment or further study 15 months after graduating (HESA Graduate Outcomes, 2023)
Our Health and Social Care courses rank 1st in their subject table for graduation prospects – outcomes (CUG, 2024)
With our Change Maker programme we ask you to take an active role in bringing about change and working towards social justice
About the course
Criminal offending and the state’s response to it are constantly evolving. This course explores the latest thinking and research into the subject including explanations of why crime occurs. You are taught by a highly experienced academic team all of whom are involved in cutting-edge research in the field.
This Master’s develops your in-depth critical knowledge and understanding of criminology including the social political and cultural contexts that have such a strong influence on crime and criminal justice in an increasingly globalised world. You also acquire the ability to apply your advanced knowledge with originality to address problems across a range of relevant settings.
The School’s expertise is deep and wide ranging covering youth crime and justice; substance abuse; gang-related crime; corporate crime; and forensic mental health. You are taught by leading researchers from the Institute of Applied Social Research whose studies on sexual exploitation trafficking and disability are internationally renowned and at the interface between research knowledge policy and practice.
Why choose this course?
- Challenge yourself by taking part in critical discussions; undertaking systematic reviews; and analysing complex unfamiliar or unpredictable criminological problems
- Learn to reflect critically on theory while drawing on a depth of practical knowledge and professional expertise from the teaching team
- Our subject experts are also members of the Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime under the direction of Professor John Pitts a key member of the Home Office gang strategy’s expert advisory group
- Explore and research a particular topic of interest sharpening your independent study skills and becoming highly specialised in a particular area
- Gain a wide range of transferable skills and qualities relevant to the workplace which will be valuable when seeking employment at a senior level
- Benefit from a team invested in your personal development offering a range of seminars and personal tutorials designed to foster a shared commitment to the subject
Course Leader - Dr Gary Manders
I joined the University in May 2013, prior to completing my PhD and undertaking research about setting up a community alcohol support package.
Previously, I worked in the Criminal Justice Sector with young people in trouble with the law for over ten years, as a probation officer and youth justice worker and senior practitioner in a youth offending team. I am passionate about bridging the gap between academia and practice and my practice experience and expertise informs my teaching.
My PhD explored the beliefs and values of young offenders in two youth offending services and this has led to a continued interest in behavioural change and what factors contribute to young people stopping offending.
What will you study?
Youth Justice: Current Issues And Critical Perspectives
The unit will engage students in critical analysis of a range of models of service development and delivery within youth justice, relating them to the social, economic and political contexts in which they have arisen, and interrogating evidence of impact. The unit will require students to examine critically current arrangements for the provision of services to young people in trouble with the law in the United Kingdom against that evidence, considering the extent to which they:
- Are consistent with the evidence base as to effectiveness
- Are consistent with, or diverge from, trends in the delivery of youth justice in other comparable jurisdictions.
Young People Group Offending And Violent Crime
This unit draws upon and critically examines comparative evidence and research from a range of European and North American settings and sociological and criminological theory to explore the nature, extent and impact of violent group offending by young people and how we might respond effectively to it. In doing so, the unit examines the social, economic, political and cultural forces that have shaped both violent group offending, and it will address questions of policy strategy and intervention and consider the evidence base of current practice in the UK and elsewhere.
The unit will provide students with the opportunity to analyse the implications and complexities of researching group offending and the ‘gang’. It will also equip students with the conceptual tools and knowledge base to critically analyse policy and practice in relation to group offending amongst ‘socially excluded’ young people and will enable students to link the study of youth group violence to broader themes explored in the core units.
Theories And Perspectives In Crime And Criminal Justice
The learning in the unit will underpin the Masters course by providing wide and current knowledge on the contemporary criminal justice system and the social and political contexts of offending behaviours and patterns. The key concepts and theoretical approaches of criminology will be applied and evaluated to assess the impact of criminal justice policy with due regard to human rights and the practices and processes of the agencies that make up the criminal justice system. The teaching on the Unit will be informed by current practice and research. At the end of the unit, the learning will enable you to take into your chosen options and dissertation a systematic understanding of contemporary criminal justice and processes, and how that knowledge has been gained through research. In addition, you will be aware of how that knowledge can be applied in dealing with complex and potentially unpredictable problems. Reflection, self-management and self-reliance will enable you to demonstrate a range of skills essential to employability at senior levels.
Offenders And Offending: The Experience Of End To End Management
You will achieve in this Unit an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the offender journey from arrest through to punishment and discharge. This learning will allow you to gain a critical understanding and knowledge of how the National Offender Management and government agencies address offending. A central part of the learning will be designed to allow students to reflect on current offender management policies and the direction of offender rehabilitation developed by National Offender Management and government agencies addressing offending. This learning will provide you with up to date knowledge of practice and policy that will inform your understanding of rehabilitation and the efforts made to reform offenders.
Financial Crime And Financial Offending
This Unit aims to achieve in students’ knowledge and understanding of corporate crime and corporate offenders. Much of the criminal activity associated with business and financial markets involves financial gain, yet a significant amount of harm is done through substandard working, business and environmental practices. Students will consider corporate malpractice drawing on international examples to reflect the multi-national business organisation. In addition, the links between organised crime and businesses will be explored. The unit seeks to address and challenge the emphasis placed on ‘low level’ crime by a focus on crime committed by persons of high social status.
The Mentally Disordered Offender
The aim of this unit is to provide the theoretical, ethical, political and legal underpinnings of Forensic Mental Health practice. Further, this unit aims to develop students’ knowledge of the origins, development and future of Forensic Mental Health practice and service provision.
The syllabus will engage with key questions such as what is Forensic Mental Health; how is it underpinned by theoretical, ethical and political frameworks; why is it important to understand how the legal system deals with the mentally disordered offender; how is Forensic Mental Health practiced in the UK and globally and what role does the criminal justice system play in the field of forensic mental health.
This unit has been designed to develop and broaden knowledge of the diverse needs of the mentally disordered offender You will gain an understanding of the principles of mental health legislation with specific attention paid to the utilisation of the law in the care of mentally ill individuals within the criminal justice system.
This Unit seeks to equip you with an understanding of key comparative models and debates; therefore a global comparison of other countries’ responses to the mentally ill offender is imperative and will provide you with opportunities to develop the skills of comparative analysis.
Complexities Of Forced Migration, Human Displacement, Trafficking And Refuge
The forced displacement of people across the globe is a defining characteristic of the twenty-first century although we live in an age wherein forced migration is often met by restrictive legislation and policies. This unit is designed to introduce you to the complexities of contemporary forced migration; including the international system for refugee protection, existing containment strategies in regions of origin, the shrinking space for asylum in the UK, separated children and global debates around human ‘trafficking’.
The unit encourages critical thinking and central questions to be addressed within the curriculum centre around why the protection of forced migrants is critical, what are the legal, policy-based and human rights issues involved, where are the world’s forced migrants and how do forced migrants recreate their worlds in the face of restrictive policy and practice.
This unit engages in the most current global policy aspects of forced migration, including the 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and subsequent Global Compact on Refugees and Global Compact on Migration, to be signed by 193 member states of the United Nations in 2018. It also sits within the broader developmental framework of the UNs 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, a number of which focus on migration and/or human trafficking.
The unit is theoretically and empirically grounded, necessarily focussing on inter-disciplinary research that is topical and relevant, often drawn world-leading research conducted within the Institute of Applied Social Research. The unit also addresses the practical and ethical implications of working with displaced populations.
Dissertation In Criminology
In this unit you will actively engage in researching a question of organisational or practice importance that is relevant to the discipline of Criminology and your own area of interest. The research may be based on primary or secondary data but must present original analysis.
In consultation with an allocated dissertation supervisor, you will draw on the skills and knowledge developed in the two Research Units to provide an in depth study of your topic, aligning the work to appropriate theoretical framework(s) gained through engagement in core units in semester 1 and 2 and providing extended critical appraisal of the literature, and of the findings from their own investigation, and applying this learning to policy and/or practice in the discipline of Criminology.
The unit aims therefore to support you in honing your specific subject knowledge and in gaining experience of conducting original research applied to the broad field of Criminology.
Research Methods 1 : Setting Deep Foundations
The core aim of this unit is to enable students to combine existing policy and data with research evidence to develop a critical appreciation of their chosen topic. Students will be able to critically appraise and evaluate the existing evidence base and summarise this learning in the form of a scoping report.
These skills are increasingly considered essential for practitioners in the human services, particularly those in leadership roles where service outcomes need to be evidenced and approaches to practice justified. This unit will enable students to inform decision making with a wide range of evidence, evaluate and thus prioritise organisational objectives, and influence the development, and evaluate the impact, of organisational strategy.
Research Methods 2 : Design, Data Collection And Ethics
The core aim of this unit is to enable student to propose research which is grounded in the existing evidence, robustly designed, makes appropriate use of data collection methods and is ethically sound. Students will be able to design robust and appropriate research which, when undertaken, would provide a valuable contribution to the existing evidence base.
The ability to design research which influences the development of policy and practice is a valuable skill in the human services. This unit offers students the opportunity to become familiar with the tools and practice of social research.
Evidence Based Policing: Targeting, Testing And Tracking
What is the best thing the police can do to reduce crime and harm in society? This requires making use of the best available research evidence to prevent and solve crime and resolve policing problems. The challenges of modern policing means making more effective use of police resources, and this is where evidence- based policing comes to the fore. Evidence based policing(EBP) aims to apply a scientific methodology to police and crime-related problems by using research, evaluation, analysis and other scientific processes to create policies and practice that make policing more effective and efficient. This requires three essential Policing strategies of targeting, testing and tracking. These issues and topics will be explored in this unit alongside other crime prevention strategies.
Targeting and testing require highly reliable measures of crime and harm. Research indicates that crime tends to be concentrated in particular areas, and a small number of all offenders commit a high proportion of all crimes. Students will learn about the use of analysis in Policing to inform appropriate evidence- based targeting of individuals and locations, such as, where crime happens repeatedly as well as the targeting of the most dangerous and high rate offenders. There is good evidence that police investigations should be targeted on the cases most likely to be solved. Identifying repeat victims means the police have greater opportunities for significantly reducing both crime and harm. Police will focus resources on particular hot times and days, when crime risks are greater. Police methods also need to be tested to demonstrate their effectiveness and to help choose what works best to reduce harm, including the testing of targeting strategies as well as tests of predictions about high priority targets, tests of police impact on public safety. Police will generate and use internal evidence to track the daily delivery and effects of those practices, including the publicly perceived legitimacy of policing.
The focus of the unit will be on understanding the role of predictive policing and using forecasting methods in crime reduction; predicting where and when a crime is likely to occur, who is likely responsible for prior crimes, and who is most likely to offend or be victimised in the future. It involves the systematic process of collecting, analysing, and responding to data
How will you be assessed?
Assessment aims to enhance the learning experience rather than simply provide academic hurdles to be surmounted. Nonetheless it must offer a reliable test of the student's level of academic attainment. To achieve this the assessment methods used must relate closely to the intended unit learning outcomes as evidenced in the UIFs whilst allowing the student maximum scope for creativity in fulfilling them.
The assessment strategy is intended to enable students to:
- Show originality in the application of knowledge and understand how the boundaries are advanced through research
- Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively and show originality in tackling and solving problems.
- Have the qualities needed for employment in circumstances requiring sound judgement personal responsibility and initiative in complex and unpredictable professional environments.
The range of assessment methods to be used will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their competence in a variety of ways reflective of different learning styles and will ensure the focus upon a critical awareness of the literature and knowledge of the current social and political frameworks. The assessment strategy is integrated with teaching to allow for a level of reflection and allow students to acquire knowledge that can be demonstrated in the assessments. Throughout the course feedback on assessments taken in the first two semesters and the reflections gained through the learning journey will enable students to critically assess their learning and develop where necessary.
As a Master’s student at the University of Bedfordshire you will develop a range of skills highly regarded in the employment market. The ability to research complex areas and provide in-depth analysis and critical appraisal are all skills that will enable you to compete successfully for employment at higher levels and within management.
Typical career paths include criminal justice; police; prison or probation services; youth justice; local and central government; charitable organisations; or research posts in the private and public sectors. Some students may wish to take up further study at Professional Doctorate or PhD level.