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Institute of Criminology




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).

For further information contact the the Graduate Administrator: Ms Anita Kovacs

Course Information

Aims of the MPhil in Criminological Research

This cousre aims 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 knowldge students will 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 will 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


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

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.



Students on this course 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.
  • 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. 

Students on this course must also complete one SSRMP research exercise of not more than 4,000 words. 


Students on this course 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.

How to apply

Applications for entry in 2022/23 will open on 1st September 2021


Applicants are referred to the relevant sections of the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office website. 

Please note that is not necessary to submit an application to both MPhil programmes as the entry requirements are the same. 

The Institute strongly recommends that students who aim to progress to a PhD apply for the MPhil in Criminological Research in the first instance. [Continuation to the PhD programme involves a separate application process, undertaken during the MPhil year.]

Supporting documents

Applicants will need to provide the following documents when applying for the MPhil in Criminology or the MPhil in Criminological Research. Please see the Postgraduate Admissions website for further details.

  • Two academic references
  • Transcripts
  • CV / resume
  • Evidence of competence in English
  • Reasons for applying 
  • Statement of interest 
  • Sample of academic written work. This should be a dissertation chapter, essay or another piece of writing that you feel shows your suitability for the course. The suggested word length is between 1500 and 5000 words.

Applicants for the Gates Scholarships will need to provide details of an additional referee who can provide a personal reference.

When will I receive a decision?

Applications are considered as they are received and some early offers are made; however, the majority of decisions are made after the main funding deadline, in January and February. An interview may take place in borderline cases, or if the admissions panel require further information to make an assessment of the application. Applicants will be notified as soon as their application has been evaluated, if it has been accepted, rejected, or put on hold. Applications that are put on hold will be assessed as a gathered field in April, after the application deadline.

The Department is subject to restrictions on the number of offers it can make for these courses and whilst in some cases a decision on an application will be made following the first review, in a large number of cases an application will be held for re-consideration at a later stage. This may mean that a decision on your application is not taken until after the closing date for applications to the course. 

Applicant FAQs

The Postgraduate Admissions Office has a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the applications process. Please refer to these while making your application and throughout the process of applying.

Entry Requirements

An honours degree with at least a high II.i (67 per cent) from a UK university or equivalent from another institution (GPA 3.6/4 in the United States), preferably in a social science discipline, although applicants from other disciplines will also be considered.

If your degree is not from the UK, please check the International Qualifications section of the Graduate Admissions website to find the equivalent in your country.


Funding Deadlines

Funding deadline for entry in October 2022 is 6 January 2022.

Application Deadline 

31 March 2022 for entry in October 2022

Student Testimonials

Levent Emre Özgüç - MPhil in Criminological Research Levent photo

"When I first applied to the Institute in Criminology to be a postgraduate student, I was hesitant as I had a law background and I was not proficient in social sciences research. However, my doubts were cleared within days of joining the programme. I can honestly say that the Institute is one of the best places to learn and specialize in criminology. The research staff consists of experts in the area who are always eager to help, and it is impossible to fail in finding any relevant book or journal in the Radzinowicz Library. Moreover, life in Cambridge is full of opportunities. Students get to be a part of a large network and mingle with the best names in their area, academically and career-wise. Even when socializing with other students, one acquires a different perspective, as the University has an extremely diverse student population coming from various academic and cultural backgrounds. Overall, I can say that my year in the University of Cambridge has been one of my best and I would certainly suggest the Institute programmes to anyone who wants to discover more about criminology."

Joshua Lefurge-Mcleod - MPhil in Criminological Research

"I came to Cambridge to pursue a Master’s in criminological research to gain an international perspective on how evidence-based policies can improve the criminal justice system in the US.  The Institute of Criminology has been rigorous in its expectations while remaining fair its evaluations.  Through lectures, supervisions, and impromptu meetings with professors, I have received an invaluable education and look forward to applying what I have learned to public policy in the US.  The IoC has been welcoming and collaborative, providing a positive learning environment for my postgraduate studies.

Fees and Funding

If you wish to be considered for funding you must submit your application by 6 January 2022 (or 9 October 2021 if you are a USA citizen resident in the USA, and wish to be considered for Gates funding)

Full details on course fees can be found at the Postgraduate Admissions website.

When considering applying for a course consider the living costs as well as the course fees required during your time here. The finance overview will help you calculate your costs.

There are many funding opportunities at Cambridge from a wide variety of sources including the Cambridge Trusts, Gates Cambridge, Colleges, Research Councils and central University funds. Eligibility for the funds can be based on what course you are studying, your country of origin, or other criteria.

The Postgraduate Admissions Website has detailed information about these funding opportunities. This includes information about eligibility, how to apply and application deadlines.

There is also a funding search tool which will help you identify possibly funding opportunities.

You are also advised to do your own research on other funding sources, including the Colleges. Competition for funding is high so we strongly advise that you apply for as many funding opportunities as possible, to maximise the chance of success.

On our funding page we have highlighted some funding opportunities where our students have achieved success in previous years.