MA Criminology and Social Policy

Start date(s)

September 2022

Study mode

Full-time (1 year)

Part-time (2 years)

Tuition fees 22/23

Home (full-time, per year): £7,750

Home (per credit): £43.05

International (full-time, per year): £16,100

Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies:

0151 231 5175

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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.

  • 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


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 country’s 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.

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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.

We anticipate you will study the following modules:

Pathway 1: Research-based route

  • Masters Dissertation Project
  • Advanced Criminological Skills: A Guide to Researching and Theorising Crime and Society

Pathway 2: Practice-based route

  • Masters Placement Project
  • Advanced Criminological Skills: A Guide to Researching and Theorising Crime and Society

The remaining credits are achievable through undertaking three of the following five optional modules:

  • Social Divisions, Crime and Social Policy
  • Comparative Criminology: International Perspectives on Crime and Justice
  • Critical Criminology and The State: Historical and Contemporary perspectives
  • Criminal (Re)presentations: Theorising Media, Crime and Culture
  • Understanding Institutions of Punishment and Control
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An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

The 180-credit programme will be taught across two semesters.

Each pathway will consist of one 60 credit module (either a dissertation or placement module), with a specialist 30 credit module entitled ‘Advanced Criminological Skills: A Guide to Researching and Theorising Crime and Society’ running as a compulsory companion module in the first semester.

The remaining credits will be achieved by completing another three 30 credit modules (one in semester one, and two in semester two).

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 field’s most contemporary and cutting-edge debates can be engaged with.

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Theprogramme  is taught by staff from a variety of disciplines including Geography, Psychology, Political Science, Sociology and Criminology itself – all of whom are research active and widely published. This level of academic expertise ensures that your degree is at the cutting edge of developments in Criminology and related fields.

Staff are writing books and academic articles on a range of issues of direct relevance to Criminology and Social Policy including:

  • austerity Britain
  • deaths inside and outside of state institutions
  • offender management
  • women’s gendered experience of probation
  • domestic abuse
  • the policing of protest
  • counter terrorism measures
  • organised crime
  • cannabis cultivation and the moral economy of heroin.

They are involved in a range of ongoing research studies which explore the links between leisure activities and wellbeing of various types of breaks offered by The Royal British Legion (TRBL); arts practice as a means to explore the lived experience of the criminal justice system; the policing of anti-fracking protests; looked after children’s experiences of the criminal justice system; and risk and harm in vulnerable children’s navigation of online space.


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. Assessment techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.

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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

Stephen Wakeman

Dr Stephen Wakeman

Programme Leader

My main research interests include drug use and drug policy, addictions, the criminological significance of various types of popular media, and progressive criminological theory (especially regarding its interface with contemporary continental philosophy). I am currently researching the ways in which popular media sources like television, film, comic books and video games have the capacity to shape and redirect criminological debates, as well as writing two monographs: one based on my PhD, the other on the complexities of doing criminological ethnography.

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.

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Entry requirements

You will need:

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

Additional information

  • Non-standard applications are welcome
  • IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component) or equivalent
  • Pearson PTE Academic requirements: 64 (minimum 59 in each component for UKVI purposes)
  • RPL is accepted on this programme.

If you have any specific queries, please contact

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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.

Important info about this course