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Course Structure

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 the 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 and practical exercises. 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. The Institute of Criminology has one of the world's finest criminological research libraries.

Year One

The first year is based on a structured timetable of seminars that are based around the strands below:

  • 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 a weekly guest lecture during the residential blocks  given by distinguished external speakers on a variety of criminal justice aspects.

Year Two

The second year builds on work completed in the first year. The first study block provides a comprehensive introduction to research design and research methodologies, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. This teaching will provide the basis to complete the thesis. The thesis 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?

Year One

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
  • Issues & Developments in Contemporary Criminal Justice

Year Two

Students are required to write one further essay of 3,000 words, a research proposal, and an 18,000 word thesis.

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Sep 13, 2018

The University of Cambridge is to launch its first bursaries for prisoners to study at the institution, under an initiative that could ultimately lead to degrees being delivered behind bars. The four £5,000 bursaries, provided by Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education in partnership with the Longford Trust charity, will support serving or former prisoners to join other students on courses that involve spending 14 days at the institute.