Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology (2016 entry)

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This Information is for 2016 entry only - to see the information for 2017 entry please go to the main Programme page

In this Section:

If you want to ...

  • explore why people start offending
  • consider how crime can be prevented
  • consider how we should deal with offenders
  • pursue a career in the criminal justice professions
  • spend a year studying in Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

... then choose BA Criminal Justice and Criminology.

"Students benefit from a vibrant learning environment, where they are taught by leading academics from the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies and taught in a £12m purpose-built state-of-the-art building and one of the leading Law Schools in the UK." Dr Richard Peake, Course Leader

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology is one of the most popular and innovative social science degrees we offer.

The course focuses on developing an advanced understanding of crime and its control. You will look in detail at all forms of crime, ranging from anti-social behaviour and drug use through to terrorism and war crimes, and consider how widespread they are and the impact they have on society.

You will explore the workings of criminal justice agencies including the police, courts, prisons and probation, but look also at private sector companies and voluntary organisations that increasingly manage offenders and regulate behaviour in an attempt to prevent crime.

The core modules give a broad grounding in the discipline of criminology, enabling you to gain specialist knowledge of theories and a contemporary understanding of crime and the criminal justice process. 

In the first year, you study law, sociology and forensic psychology as compulsory elements.  In years two and three, you are able to choose from a selection of discovery modules. You tailor your course to your own interests and these can be from sociology, psychology, politics, law or any other field of study offered at Leeds.

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology is a single honours programme but is interdisciplinary in nature. Based in the School of Law but including modules from the School of Sociology and Social Policy and Institute of Psychological Sciences, it allows you to appreciate how crime and its control are shaped by individual, social, legal and political forces and this gives the course a unique and special vitality.

The degree is taught by internationally-recognised experts in Criminal Justice and Criminology based within the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies.

“The range of optional modules was a strong attraction. Modules such as War Crimes and Genocide, and Understanding Interpersonal Violence might not seem like your typical modules, but my knowledge and interest for possible careers has broadened significantly.” Anna Cole, Criminal Justice Studies Graduate 2012.

Study Abroad opportunities

If you enrol on BA Criminal Justice and Criminology, you may apply to spend the third year of your degree course studying abroad at one of three partner institutions. On completion of the year abroad, you then return to Leeds to complete your final year of study.

Spending a year abroad studying criminal justice and criminology in the context of a different jurisdiction will provide you with tremendous opportunities to develop intellectually and to grow personally through gaining new and enriching social and cultural experiences.

Currently, the partner universities available to students of the programme are the following institutions.

  • Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada
  • Griffiths University in Brisbane, Australia
  • Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Career possibilities

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology is a flexible degree. The qualification lends itself to criminal justice careers, such as the Police, Prison and Probation Services or as researchers in this field. We also see students follow diverse careers from the Civil Service to the media. A good number of students remain in higher education and enter related Masters programmes.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Criminal Justice Study Skills
  • Crime, Inequality and Social Issues
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Introduction to Criminal Law
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Sociological of Modern Societies
  • Understanding Crime

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Criminology: Theories and and Concepts
  • Researching Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Youth Crime and Justice
  • Victims, Crime and Justice

Optional modules

You can choose an optional module from a specialist list offered by the School of Law.

Module options may include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Drugs: Society, Politics and Policy
  • Employment Law
  • Globalisation: Equality and Diversity
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Race and Hollywood Cinema
  • Urban Disorders, Social Divisions and Social Control
  • Welfare and Crime: Continuity, Conflict and Change

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Long Dissertation
  • Penology
  • Policing

Optional modules

You can choose one optional module from a specialist list offered by the School of Law.

Module options may include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Cyberlaw: Law and Regulation of the Information Society
  • European Union Law
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Forensic Process and the Law
  • Organised Crime, Violence and the State
  • Media Law
  • Urban Disorders, Social Divisions and Social Control

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology learning and assessment

BA Criminal Justice and Criminology is a modular course that gives you a wide range of choice over the topics that you wish to study in more detail. A module is a unit of teaching that the School then examines upon completion. Modules are weighted in terms of credits: most modules have a 20 credit weighting.

Every year, you will study 120 credits. Some modules are compulsory (all in your first year) but you will be able to chose additional modules in your second and third year.


A typical module will see a weekly lecture and a seminar every two weeks. A 20 credit module will typically have 20 lectures and 8 seminars.

Teaching methods

Independent learning is the basis of the programme.

As well as lectures, seminars and workshops, modules such as the Criminal Justice Study Skills have been designed to introduce you to the idea of learning independently an to instil the necessary academic skills and confidence to suceed. This includes how to use the library, how to manage your time, making the most of lectures and seminars and preparing and successfully completing essays and examinations.

Lectures 'set the scene' for a topic or theme, and provide you with a framework for independent study. Seminars are smaller groups of between ten to twelve students, who meet for structured discussions under the guidance of a seminar leader. Seminars allow students to investigate lecture topics in more depth, raise questions and develop arguments.

There are also opportunities to hear guest speakers from local criminal institutions, to visit criminal justice agencies and apply for work placements.

The University library also hosts an extensive collection on Criminal Justice and Criminology. Students find this an integral source for their studies and further support is offered by electronic access to criminological materials through networked databases, electronics journals and the internet.

Contact time

Staff hold two academic support hours each week, and we encourage you to ‘drop in’ to discuss academic issues.  Also progress meetings with personal tutors are scheduled periodically. In the final year, you will work closely with a designated supervisor on your research project.


Modules are assessed by a variety of methods including examination and coursework, or by a combination of the two. You may also be assessed through group presentations and research-based activities.

Where we assess a module by examination and coursework, the proportion of marks for each component of assessment may vary from subject to subject.

Supported by a supervisor, final year students design and complete a 12,000 word dissertation: a large piece of independent study on a criminological issue of particular interest to them.

Here, at the School of Law, BA Criminal Justice Studies and Criminology offers you ...

  • The ability to study law and sociology alongside criminal justice

As BA Criminal Justice Studies and Criminology sits within the School of Law, you can choose Law modules as part of your course. You can also study certain modules from the School of Sociology and Social Policy. Undertaking core modules in other departments makes this programme truly interdisiplinary, and will help you to pursue your own academic interests and develop a future career direction.     

  • Teaching by experts

All Criminal Justice undergraduate students become members of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, a vibrant research centre established in 1987 and internationally-recognised for producing high quality research publications that are culturally-rich and policy-relevant. Teaching is, therefore, research-led by some of the most eminent criminological researchers in the UK.

  • Career-enhancing voluntary opportunities

We place a heavy emphasis on transferrable skills and gaining relevant work experience through volunteering here at the School of Law. Working closely with the Careers Centre, you may volunteer for a range of organisations including Victim Support. Short-term placements may also be secured with HM Prison Service in HMP Leeds and with the regional Youth Offending Service.

Criminology is firmly linked to more traditional subjects, such as sociology or psychology and is interdisciplinary. 

It enables you to study how much crime there is and identify some of the reasons why crime is committed. We employ sociological and criminological theories in trying to broaden our understanding of crime and criminals.

The course evaluates crime policies and examines the criminal justice process, from involvement with the police to punishment in prison or in the community.

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