2025/26 entry Applications also open for 2024/25

MA Criminology and Social Policy

Start date(s):
Study mode:
Course duration:
1 year

Tuition fees

Home fee
International full-time per year
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About this course

MA Criminology and Social Policy at Liverpool John Moores University offers critical approaches to the study of crime, social harm and criminal justice.

This course is currently not open for applications. This page will be updated with a link to apply when applications open. 

  • Learn from a range of experts in an interdisciplinary research environment
  • Benefit from excellent research-led teaching focused on the interplay of theory, policy and practice
  • Enjoy strong local, national and international links with academics, community groups and justice campaigns
  • Personalise your postgraduate degree via a research pathway, a work placement route, or a combination of both

The study of Criminology is not just about the institutions of the criminal justice system. You will be encouraged to take a critical approach that examines issues of power, inequalities and social harm.

This interdisciplinary MA gives you the chance to look at Criminology from the perspective of various other disciplines such as Geography, History, Psychology, Political Science and Sociology.

As well as developing your advanced skills in research and theoretical application, the programme places a strong emphasis on the implications for policy and practice. It includes a strong comparative component, encouraging students to consider some of the international dimensions of crime, social harm and state responses to them.

Fees and funding

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students


The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:

  • library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
  • access to programme-appropriate software
  • library and student IT support
  • free on-campus wifi via eduroam

Additional costs

Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:

  • accommodation and living expenditure
  • books (should you wish to have your own copies)
  • printing, photocopying and stationery
  • PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)
  • placements (travel expenses and living costs)
  • student visas (international students only)
  • study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
  • academic conferences (travel costs)
  • professional-body membership
  • graduation (gown hire etc)


There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.

The MA Criminology and Social Policy degree would be particularly relevant to people working in, or hoping to work in, a range of fields including:

  • research
  • academia
  • charities and community organisations
  • children, young people's and youth justice fields
  • the investigation of miscarriages of justice
  • social work, prison and probation services
  • policing
  • media research
  • writing and journalism
  • teaching
  • policy and administration
  • government
  • victim support

Research in action

LJMU academics worked alongside an artist to create a board game that brings the experiences of life on probation to the general public.

Exhibiting work in one of the countrys leading modern art galleries is not a typical experience for Criminologists, but academics from within LJMU's Criminal Justice and Criminology departments can now add this to their list of achievements. Alongside artist Hwa Young Jung, the team revealed a thought-provoking, interactive art piece a board game entitled, Probationary: The Game of Life on Licence at the Tate Modern for The Production of Truth, Justice and History exhibition hosted by the University of Warwick.

Produced through workshops with men on licence, Probationary explores the lived experience of being on probation. The board game format enables players to follow the journey of four characters as they work through the complexities of the probation process.

Board games, from Monopoly to the Game of Life, contain the structures and values of the society in which they are produced presenting back to us the world in which we live. Taking this as a starting point, Probationary reflects real experiences of being subject to the criminal justice system and presents an opportunity to collectively play, understand and discuss such systems within contemporary society.

Read more about the project

The student experience

Discover life as a postgraduate student at LJMU.

Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your programme

Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.

Core modules

Advanced Research Methods for Social Science
30 credits

This module will develop your understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of criminology and social policy research and practice. You will evaluate and understand the contested and political nature of knowledge and the complex relationship between social research and the policy environment. You will critically evaluate a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods used in relevant fields of enquiry and develop advanced data analysis skills, including the use of specialist software tools.

Conceptualising Crime, Criminal Justice and Social Policy
30 credits

This module will help you understand the fundamental connection between criminological and social policy theoretical approaches and the significance of these to analyses of social (in) justice. You will understand welfare and criminal justice institutions in their historical and contemporary contexts, and critically examine the ways in which social policy and policymaking processes inform constructions of 'social problems' and the criminal justice responses to them.

Optional Modules

Criminological (Re)presentations
30 credits

By studying this module you will understand the ways in which crime, harm and the agencies of social control are represented in different cultural/intellectual contexts. You will develop a systematic understanding of the ways in which academic theory and cultural representations intersect and coalesce around notions of 'crime', 'harm' and '(in)justice'. You will engage in the active interrogation of cutting-edge criminological theory through participatory discussion.

Social Divisions: Origins, Inequalities, Intersections
30 credits

During this module you will critically explore the significance of historical and contemporary constructions of inequalities to the study of criminology and social policy. You will understand the interconnecting relationship between multiple social divisions and the effects these connections have in theory, policy and practice. The module will help you situate current debates around social divisions and inequalities in their political, geographical and social context.

Critical Criminology and the State: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
30 credits

This module will help you to develop a critical understanding of the historical and contemporary relationship between the state, social divisions and the maintenance of social order.

During the module you will consider recent developments around critical theories of the state, to understand the interrelationship between the exercise of state power, policy and practice. In doing so, you will critically assess the contradictions within, and contestation around, the exercise of state power.

Practice-Based Research Project
60 credits

During this module you will understand the ways in which criminological research can be undertaken across a range of different employment contexts. You will develop an enhanced employability profile, supported through an evidence-based skill-set. The module will provide you with the opportunity to communicate your research to a diverse audience through different methods of delivery.

60 credits

During the module you will negotiate issues of methodology, research design, ethics and data analysis and apply these to research on a topic of the student's choice. You will develop a systematic and critical awareness of complex concepts congruent to the study of criminology and social policy, work independently and with some originality. You will produce a coherent and logically argued piece of writing that demonstrates competence in critical analysis.

Globalisation and Comparative Social Policy: Crime, Harm and (in)justice
30 credits

This module with encourage you to think globally and comparatively about social policy and its connections with crime, harm and (in)justice. You will develop a critical understanding of the ways in which the economic, political and cultural milieu intersect with crime, harm and (in)justice. You will participate in online fieldwork, internet-based research, and communities of practice for digital scholarship.


An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

The 180-credit programme will be taught across three semesters. Each pathway will consist of one 60 credit module (either a dissertation or placement module) undertaken across the whole academic year. Accompanying this, students study two core modules in their first semester, and two optional modules in semester two. Part time students undertake one core module and two options in their first year, and their dissertation/practice-based research module and final core module in their second year.

Teaching methods

Teaching is delivered via a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars and one-to-one consultations with your tutors. You will also be expected to study independently and conduct your own self-directed research.

The teaching team is committed to ensuring you get the most out of your learning experience. Staff have office hours during which you can visit them to discuss your work and progress. You will also be allocated a personal tutor who will guide and support you throughout your time at LJMU.

Applied learning

The MA takes a student centred approach to learning, offering you the opportunity to individualise and customise your postgraduate degree by taking either a research pathway through it, a work placement route, or even a combination of both. You will be encouraged to take a fresh look at some established criminological theories and ideas, as well as being given a space through which some of the fields most contemporary and cutting-edge debates can be engaged with.


How learning is monitored on your programme

To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.

Staff on this programme place a high value on providing tailored feedback to students and you will normally receive extensive written feedback on assessments and regular feedback. This is designed to help you achieve your full potential.

Depending on the route you select, you will undertake either a 60 credit Masters Dissertation or a 60 credit assessed placement. Other forms of assessment may include: essays, exams, reports and briefing papers, case studies, portfolios, posters, presentations, debates, reviews and group work.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

This MA will provide students with an opportunity to think differently about a whole range of subjects related to crime, deviance, and the agencies of their control. It has been written with the modern postgraduate student in mind. This programme will appeal to those who are interested in pursuing their academic studies through research, and those who want to increase their employability through gaining 'hands on' skills via a work placement.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

Based within the John Foster Building on the Mount Pleasant Campus the School of Humanities and Social Science has many outstanding facilities, including well-equipped IT Suites, a light-filled Student Common Room and dedicated postgraduate study areas. At the back of the John Foster Building is the Aldham Robarts Library, which gives access to an exceptional range of materials to support the study of humanities and social science.

Entry requirements

You will need:

Qualification requirements

Undergraduate degree

  • a minimum 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject e.g. Criminology, Sociology, Social Policy

International requirements


    • IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component) or equivalent

  • Other international requirements

    • Non-standard applications are welcome

Further information

  • Extra Requirements
  • RPL

    • RPL is accepted on this programme.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.

Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.