Outline of the Courses
Year 1 comprises three formal teaching blocks, each of two weeks duration. The first block is held around
Easter with the second and third blocks usually in July and September. Year 2 is designed for students who have completed year
1 to a required standard. Year 2 comprises three further blocks in Cambridge (normally around Easter and in July and September),
and the submission of a supervised thesis.
A variety of teaching methods are used - all of which require active student participation - including lectures and seminars, case studies, practical exercises and project work. Individual study is also necessary. All students have individual supervisions with Cambridge supervisors to discuss their work as it progresses. Students can discuss their academic work with their supervisor, and their supervisor will provide feedback on assessed essays, as well as support during the residential blocks and throughout the course. For each study block essential readings is provided. The Institute of Criminology has one of the world's finest criminological research libraries.
Students are required to study a number of modules or 'strands'. Some of these modules are 'core' modules and many of their lectures and seminars are shared by both courses. Other modules are more specialised and are studied by students on only one of the courses (although, subject to timetabling constraints, students may of course attend lectures of interest from modules that they will not be assessed on). The modules currently are as follows:
- Prisons and Imprisonment
- Criminal Justice and the Community
- Management & Criminal Justice
- Criminological Theory & Research
- Sentencing, the Legal Context & Court Issues
A key feature of the course involves regular guest lectures given by distinguished speakers on aspects of the legal, political and human rights environment within which criminal justice work is conducted.
The second year builds on work completed in the first year. An intensive two week study block provides a comprehensive introduction to research design and research methodologies, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. This provides sufficient teaching to enable students to develop their own research proposal, which will form the basis for the dissertation. The dissertation is usually based on empirical research and is chosen and designed in close consultation with a supervisor. Often, the topic is directly relevant to the student's own area of responsibility or to organisational priorities, so that it closely links into career development or has some benefit for the sponsoring organisation. In the July and September blocks, students are expected to give presentations on the progress of their dissertations, and are offered research workshops alongside meetings with supervisors and thesis advisors to help them with aspects of research design and analysis.
How are the Courses Assessed?
Students are required to write three essays of 3,000 words each from three of four assessed subject areas. The four assessed areas are Criminological Theory and Criminological Research, Management in Criminal Justice, Prisons & Imprisonment and Issues & Developments in Contemporary Criminal Justice.
Students are required to write one further essay of 3,000 words, a research proposal, and an 18,000 word dissertation.