Criminology (BSc)

Our Criminology BSc is delivered by renowned social scientific scholars in our interdisciplinary research and teaching environment of our School of Social Sciences.

You will be introduced to the challenge and excitement of being part of a research-inspired environment as you develop both subject-specific skills and the ability to apply your knowledge to academic and policy debates within Criminology. Your degree will also enable you to hone a range of transferable skills to complement your academic qualifications.

Key facts

UCAS CodeL370
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School typically has 280 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives 1250 applications
Typical A level offerAAB, excluding General Studies
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core, plus grades AB at A-level
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark


Admissions tutor(s)

Ms Rachel Swann, Course Administrator

Ms Rachel Swann, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published in June 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Criminology is the field of study which focuses on both processes of criminalisation and victimisation and responses to crime and disorder. It investigates how social groups or their behaviour is defined as 'criminal' or 'anti-social'; how different approaches to criminal justice balance protection, rehabilitation and control; and how victims are affected by their experiences.

You will have the opportunity to learn an interdisciplinary centre of Social Sciences staffed by leading Criminologists with strong links to local police, probation and criminal justice services.

Criminology at Cardiff

The degree is characterised by its focus on the 'criminological imagination' within the social sciences.  It begins by examining how to approach problems of crime, justice and crime control as a social scientist before applying these research-driven disciplinary skills to 'real world' issues and debates.

The Criminology foundation modules focus on developing your capacity to think about problems of crime, justice and crime control as a social scientist. We place a strong emphasis on introducing students to the research methods involved in gathering criminological data and the relationships between this evidence and the theories developed within criminology. As you progress through the degree these core skills are developed through more specialised modules, increasingly interactive styles of learning and the critical interrogation of theory, method and evidence in specific policy domains.

Over the course, you will have the opportunity to build up a range of skills and substantive knowledge related to criminology. You will have front-line access to leading researchers and the criminological debates in which they are engaged. In addition, you will also take away a sophisticated and a highly specialised appreciation of the criminological research and the operation of criminal justice and crime control processes.

Single or Joint honours?

Whether you are studying for a single or joint honours degree in criminology you will be expected to take a number of core modules in each year. Single honours students then have the option of making up their remaining modules from a selection of those taught elsewhere in the School of Social Sciences. Joint honours students typically split their modules evenly between the two subjects and may have a greater number of core modules to include before choosing any options.

Whatever criminology scheme you choose, we hope to provide you with an apprenticeship in the craft and science of contemporary criminology. You will share in the in-depth specialist knowledge of our academic staff and development as number of important transferable skills.

Course structure

All degrees schemes within the Cardiff School of Social Sciences put great emphasis on the combination of theory and method that is needed to apply social science work to real world problems. Our degree schemes are developed with this in mind and provide a solid foundation in core concepts and methods before moving on to more independent and critical thinking about their application in specific contexts.

Single honours students will complete their programme of study with modules from the Education, Social Policy and Sociology schemes. Joint honours students will focus their remaining modules on those required by their partner subject.

In years two and three, students build upon the foundations of their first year and develop more sophisticated understandings of the relationships between offenders and victims and between crime and its control through formal and informal mechanisms. This critical engagement with academic research and policy is enabled by the study of theoretical and empirical work dealing with contemporary issues of crime and disorder in the UK and across the globe. These more specialist modules draw extensively on the research interests and expertise of Cardiff staff.

In addition, final year students have the opportunity to undertake dissertation project in which they will be able to design and conduct a small scale research project under the supervision of a member of academic staff. If you are enrolled on the single honours Criminology scheme, then the dissertation is compulsory.

Year one

Year two

Module titleModule codeCredits
Offending and VictimisationSI020120 credits
Social Research MethodsSI003020 credits
Responses To CrimeSI020220 credits
Theory and Method in Contemporary CriminologySI020020 credits

Year three

Module titleModule codeCredits
Diversity, Crime and Criminal JusticeSI018420 credits
Policing: Theory, Evidence and PolicySI026320 credits
Criminological PracticeSI020420 credits
DissertationSI013140 credits
Prisons and Community SanctionsSI020320 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

In the School of Social Sciences you will learn from scholars who are shaping the future of their fields. Our courses reflect both the core ideas of their disciplines and contemporary debates, theories and research.

In year one you will lay the foundations for later specialist study, taking a number of core modules and following a study skills programme designed to help you make the transition to higher education. In years two and three, you will be encouraged to study and learn more independently, giving you the opportunity to read more widely and to develop your own interests

Assessment methods vary from module to module but, across the degree scheme as a whole, you can expect a mixture of exams, essays, practical work, presentations, and individual and group projects. Depending on your degree scheme, you may also undertake a final year dissertation that will give you the opportunity to focus on one topic in depth and further develop your research and analytic skills.

As social science develops in response to the social world, so too our curriculum changes.  Our students play an important role in these developments, with the Staff-Student Panel being consulted about major changes and all students completing module evaluations and an annual student survey.

In 2013/14, 95% of School of Social Science graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

Turning theory into practical application and providing experience of the working world are important facets of preparing our graduates for life outside of education.

We encourage our students to think about life beyond University from day one, offering modules and support to give you a competitive advantage on graduating.

Our dedicated Placements Manager offers advice on available work placements, internships, work experience and opportunities to enhance your CV and broaden your horizons. Support with job applications and interview techniques is also available.


  • Educational Psychologist
  • Youth and Community Work
  • Police and Probation Service
  • Careers Guidance
  • Human Resource Management
  • Speech Therapist
  • Market and Policy Researcher


3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits 340 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes 

Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

Criminology is the field of study which focuses on crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance. Criminology is both a theoretical and an empirical subject. It has its roots in several social science disciplines, and staff adopt an interdisciplinary approach to their teaching and research. In particular, sociological, psychological and political approaches are explored in the undergraduate Criminology curriculum. The degree also provides students with a thorough grounding in criminological research methods and practice.  The School of Social Sciences is in a unique position to offer Criminology programmes within an interdisciplinary social sciences context. Another key advantage of studying at Cardiff is that we are one of the few institutions offering Criminology degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Criminology in Cardiff is set within a world-class research and teaching culture. Our undergraduate students are introduced to the challenge and excitement of being part of a research-led environment and final year students usually undertake a dissertation in Criminology.

Degree programmes in SOCSI reflect the National Qualification Framework and benchmark standards of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) ( 

What should I know about year five?

Most modules are 20 credits. Students are expected to allocate 200 hours of study time to each of them: this is made up of lectures (22-24 hrs in Years 2 and 3, 44-48 in Year 1), tutorials/seminars/workshops (8-10 hours), independent study and time spent on assessment tasks. Students should attend all lectures and are required to attend all seminars.

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study, which can be found at:

Students are also expected to maintain regular contact with the personal tutor and, where appropriate, inform the School of any extenuating circumstances that might affect their academic performance.

In SOCSI we take the responsibility we share with you to support your learning seriously and if you have any particular requirements it is important that you let us know. In some instances you may just want to talk to your personal tutor or a member of the teaching team on a particular module. We also have a Disabilities contact and work closely with the Student Support Service.

How is this course/programme structured?

This is a 3 year full time programme, consisting of 120 credits a year.

What should I know about year four?

No specific equipment required

What should I know about year three?

Students will acquire and develop a range of skills, including both discipline specific and generic employability skills. These include: communicating and presenting oral and written information, arguments and ideas (individually and as part of a team); using ICT (word processing, data bases, internet communication, information retrieval and on-line searches); interpreting and presenting relevant numerical information through compulsory year 1 and 2 research methods modules; demonstrating interpersonal skills to enable team/group work; recognising, recording and communicating skills and knowledge to achieve personal/career goals; managing  learning and performance (including time management); demonstrating a commitment to continuing learning and development.

The Dissertation provides a means to further develop and demonstrate a broad range of skills.  The outcomes of the dissertation will be made available to a wider audience at a conference when you will be expected to make a presentation of your work. The research project provides the opportunity for independent study supported by a one to one relationship with a supervisor. Supervision sessions provide the opportunity to negotiate individual learning outcomes. This will develop collaborative, time-management, communication and presentational skills.

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Each year of study consist of 120 credits, usually taught as six 20 credit modules. In each academic year, apart from the final year, there will be a number of core modules that provide the essential foundation for the degree scheme plus a number of optional modules that allow you to tailor your academic work to your own strengths and interests. In the third year, students have the opportunity to complement coure modules with a dissertation. The dissertation is counted as a double module and provides the opportunity for independent study and research supported by an academic supervisor.

A diverse range of teaching and learning styles are used throughout the degree. Students will attend lectures, participate in tutorials or seminars and carry out practical tasks as individual or group activities. Seminar and practical work is particularly important as it provides an opportunity to student to obtain feedback on their progress and understanding throughout the academic year.

You will receive formal feedback on your assessments in a variety of ways. You will receive individual, written feedback on coursework, the purpose of which is to improve your understanding of the subject and develop transferable skills that can be applied elsewhere. General feedback will also be given on examinations, with individual feedback available for students who have failed the module and require a resit. Many modules also offer formative assessments, which enable you to develop your skills and obtain feedback without affecting your final module mark.

Some teaching will take place within the School of Social Sciences and some will be in other locations within the University campus.

What should I know about year one?

Each of the taught modules within the programme will be assessed using one or more of the following in-course assessments:

· Essays and coursework;

· Formal examinations;

· Class tests;

· Written reports;

· Oral presentations;

· Dissertation or extended essay.

There are also opportunities for formative assessment: assessments which do not formally count towards the final grade and are therefore an opportunity for students to gain insight on their progress. We place a particular emphasis on formative assessment in the first year.

Other information

Students will be allocated a personal tutor for the duration of their studies. Tutors make themselves available for scheduled meetings to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance, but they can also be called upon when needed.

All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Blackboard, on which students will find course materials, links to related materials and information relating to assessment tasks. Additional module-specific support is provided by seminar tutors, lecturers and/or module convenors. Support for the dissertation is provided by a supervisor who will meet with students regularly.

Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are also made available via the University’s central services, which include:

  • Academic and Skills Development Centre:
  • Information Literacy Resource Bank:
  • Careers Advice and Guidance:

Distinctive features

A typical graduate from this programme will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding/comprehension:

  • demonstrate systematic and critical understanding of crime and its control, some of it in specialist areas, and informed by current criminological thinking and developments
  • describe and evaluate the principles that underlie criminal justice policy  and crime control strategies, how they have changed over time, and how they relate to the workings of particular agencies of crime control
  • recognise the potential uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in criminology
  • select and use accurately techniques of social scientific analysis and enquiry

 Intellectual Skills: Analysis, application:

  • critically analyse an appropriate range of criminological literature and research findings
  • interrogate assumptions and theories of research
  • interrogate your own assumptions using appropriate principles
  • compare and contrast examples of criminological theory and research
  • apply research principles and practice to own coursework
  • analyse primary and secondary data (both qualitative and quantitative)
  • explore systematically and critically the ways in which images and notions of crime are constructed and represented
  • plan research and be able to conduct your own piece of criminological research

Intellectual Skills: Synthesis and reflection/ evaluation

  • assess a range of criminological perspectives
  • advocate a balanced and possibly a counter-factual point of view
  • demonstrate an understanding of the significance of the limitations of criminological theory and research
  • apply social scientific research skills to the interrogation of evidence relating to criminological issues
  • synthesise primary and secondary data (both qualitative and quantitative)

Transferable Skills

  • communicate and present oral and written complex information, arguments and ideas (individually and as part of a team)
  • use ICT (word processing, data bases, internet communication, information retrieval and on-line searches)
  • interpret and present relevant numerical information through compulsory year 1 and 2 research methods modules.
  • demonstrate interpersonal skills to enable team/group work (including, for example, team work, planning, negotiating and target setting)
  • recognise, record and communicate your skills and knowledge to achieve your personal/career goals
  • manage  your  own learning and performance (including time management)
  • demonstrate a commitment to continuing learning and development

How will I be taught?

The distinctive features of the Scheme include:

  • the opportunity for students to learn in a School that was ranked 3rd in the UK for research quality in sociology and 5th for education in the 2014 Research Excellent Framework (REF)
  • The involvement of research-active staff in teaching
  • The emphasis on independent learning in a research-led environment
  • The variety of modules on offer in a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary School
  • Progression through core and specialist option modules
  • Involvement with the Welsh branch of the British Society of Criminology, the Centre for Crime Law and Justice and the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice
  • The opportunity to study abroad

Admissions tutors

Ms Rachel Swann, Course Administrator

Ms Rachel Swann, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

How to apply
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