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Institute of Criminology

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The MPhil in Criminological Research provides a foundational education in prominent criminological theories, research methods, and areas of criminological knowledge. Compulsory modules on criminological theories and research methods familiarise students with historic and contemporary criminological thinking and research. A variety of optional seminars are on offer each year covering a wide range of criminological topics.

The MPhil in Criminological Research requires empirical research as part of the final dissertation and therefore includes practical training in analytical and advanced research methods through the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP).


The MPhil in Criminological Research is structured around two teaching terms in which students attend two core courses, two optional courses, and a research methods training course, with the remainder of the year devoted to the preparation of a research-based dissertation.

MPhil in Criminological Research students are required to take the core seminar courses (Criminological Theories and Criminological Research Methods) and two optional seminar courses. Students are also required to complete four modules for the Social Sciences Research Methods course.

Core Courses 

Optional Courses



Each student will be assigned a supervisor. The main role of the supervisor is to provide general academic advice to students, and subject-specific advice relating to the dissertation.



MPhil in Criminological Research students must submit three essays, each of no more than 3,000 words, on topics which the student will choose from lists announced by the examiners. These include one criminological theories essay, and two optional course essays, each relating to a different optional course the student has attended.

MPhil in Criminological Research students must also submit one criminological research methods exercise relating to the core course in Criminological Research Methods, which may comprise different elements including a written exercise of not more than 3,000 words. 

MPhil in Criminological Research students must also complete one SSRMP research exercise of not more than 4,000 words. 


MPhil in Criminological Research students must submit one dissertation of not more than 18,000 words on a criminological topic chosen by the student. Students are expected to demonstrate, via the dissertation, a competent application of research methods.

Each student is also required to give a short presentation on their dissertation topic. 


The Institute strongly recommends that students who aim to progress to a PhD apply for the MPhil in Criminological Research in the first instance. Progression to the PhD requires a strong performance on the MPhil programme, a suitable research topic and proposal, and an available supervisor.

Continuation to the PhD programme involves a separate application process, undertaken during the MPhil year. Prospective PhD students are encouraged to discuss their plans with their MPhil supervisor as early as possible during the MPhil year.

Programme Aims

The aims of the MPhil in Criminological Research are to

  • Offer an up-to-date and high quality degree course, introducing students to some of the most important theory, methods and research in criminology
  • Offer a sound academic foundation to those who aspire to undertake a PhD or career in teaching and research in criminology or related fields

Core knowledge
Students should acquire:

  • an understanding of core criminological and criminal justice theories
  • a critical awareness of current problems and debates within the field
  • skills to critically evaluate theoretical and empirical literature relevant to criminological and criminal justice research
  • the ability to synthesize and apply criminological knowledge in new contexts or to new issues
  • the ability to use theoretical knowledge creatively and independently to guide their work
  • skills in communicating criminological knowledge to specialist and nonspecialist audiences

Research methods
Students should acquire:

  • a comprehensive understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods used in criminology
  • the ability to use acquired knowledge to propose new hypotheses and identify and address research problems
  • the ability to critically assess research designs
  • the ability to apply research competencies to practical issues
  • the ability to independently acquire and interpret additional knowledge relating to research
  • an understanding of the quality of work required to satisfy peer review