Ryan Steeson - Criminology MA
Criminology - MA
Postgraduate Open Day
Join us at the Medway campus on Saturday 24 June or the Canterbury campus on Saturday 1 July. Meet our staff and students, find out more about our Master's and PhDs, and experience our stunning locations for yourself.
Criminology has a long and distinguished tradition at Kent with its research base in the Crime, Culture and Control Cluster.
Study Criminology at Kent and be lectured, supervised and tutored by a team of scholars and researchers internationally renowned for their world-class teaching and publications.
Criminology is an important part of the activities of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR), which is one of the four top institutions of its kind in the UK. In 2012, we were awarded the first National Award for Excellence in Teaching Criminology by the British Criminology Society in recognition of our innovative approach.
The atmosphere of the School is informal and friendly and there is a lively and diverse postgraduate community. Regular staff/graduate seminars introduce you to the work of academic staff and research students as well as academic visitors, and provide opportunities both for sociability and for intellectual stimulation. The large number of academic staff and our favourable staff/student ratios mean that academic staff are readily accessible.
A key feature of the MA Criminology is its involvement in a Common Study Programme. The Common Study Programme in Critical Criminology is a biannual student-centred conference at which students are invited to present papers, meet students and staff from other countries and exchange ideas.
A good honours degree in criminology, sociology, social policy, law or other related social science discipline, or substantial experience in social or political research or a relevant profession.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
In the news
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
The programme involves:
- the sociological study of crime and its application to criminal justice and social policy
- the study of issues at the cutting edge of current criminological debate with a strong emphasis on the cultural context of crime
- advanced criminological theory and research methods as applied to crime and criminal justice.
It also offers opportunities for you to develop your career in the areas of criminal justice, policy development and academic research.
We are constantly developing the modules available to you in line with current issues and staff expertise. Each year we announce new choices, for example we are currently working on developing a module convened by Dr David Redmon which looks at documentary film-making from a social science perspective.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. You will be required to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
This course introduces students to the logic and methods of social research. The course aims to familiarize students to central topics in research design, the methodological choices necessary to address in designing social research and the ethics of social research. The module introduces students to both positivist and critical/interpretive approaches and the debates behind their selection for conducting research. Students will be versed in the scientific approaches to social research, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The module aims to provide students a robust understanding of social research methods and the decisions needed to write up a research proposal.
In the late modern period we are presented with an extraordinary wealth of criminological theory. Past and present paradigms proliferate and prosper. This course examines these theories, placing them in the context of the massive social transformations that have taken place in the last thirty years. It is not concerned so much with abstract theory as criminological ideas, which arise in particular contexts. It aims, therefore, to situate theories in contemporary debates and controversies and allows students to fully utilize theoretical insights in their criminological work. In particular we will introduce the current debates surrounding cultural criminology, the debate over quantitative methods and the emergence of a critical criminology
The module will serve to provide students with an overview of the scope and expectations of a dissertation at MA-level. We discuss the ethical challenges of doing empirical research in the 21st century, and prepare students for carrying out an independent piece of research within a given timeframe. If the dissertation requires ethical research approval, an application will be submitted to the School research ethics committee.
This module offers a critical study of policing from historical, legal, political and social perspectives. It focuses primarily on policing in the United Kingdom, with other appropriate jurisdictions (including the European Union) being used for comparative purposes.
The module is designed so that, as well as covering a core of central concepts and theories, students will have the opportunity from selecting from among a range of optional topics. The core topics which are covered every year include:-
- Introduction: questions of definition – protest, collective action, social movements, social movement organisations. NGOs, pressure groups
- Collective behaviour or political action? The question of rationality; mass society theory; relative deprivation
- Resource mobilisation theory and its critics
- Political opportunity structures
- Ideas, values and knowledge in the making of social movements
- Mass media and social movements: framing and its consequences
- New communications media and social movements
This module explores some key issues, debates and controversies in the cross-disciplinary study of terrorism and political violence. Since 9/11, terrorism and jihadist violence in particular has become one of the most contentious and politically charged issues of our time. Yet it remains poorly understood, in part because of the contention and consequent polarization surrounding it, but also because of the methodological challenges in researching the individuals and group involved in terrorist activity. One of the core aims of the module is to bring into focus the central points of contention in debates over the meaning, nature and causes of terrorism in contemporary western societies, and to help shed a light on the challenges - methodological, practical and ethical - of researching an issue saturated in danger, secrecy and stigma. What is terrorism and how should it best be defined? Why does the term "terrorism" carry such a potent stigma? What are the master cultural and intellectual narratives for thinking about terrorism and terrorists? Does it make sense to talk of "the terrorist" as a category of person, and what are the problems inherent in efforts to "profile" those who engage in terrorism? What do terrorists and terrorist groups want? Is terrorism rational? What is suicide bombing and what explains it? How do terrorist rhetorically frame the use of violence against civilians? What is ISIS and is it Islamic? What is radicalization and how should it be conceptualized? Can terrorism ever be morally justified? The purpose of this module is to provoke a framework for thinking about these and other crucial questions about terrorism and political violence.
This module examines gender and crime in a globalised world. Several core themes inform the international exploration of crime, victimisation and justice, including 'race', class, age, sexuality, locality, economics, politics, power and discourse. The module offers students the opportunity to engage with a broad range of internationally classical and influential bodies of literature spanning feminist and critical criminology, masculinities theories, victimology, queer theory and globalisation. Men and women as victims and offenders will be examined through a gendered lens to assess how culture, discourse and identity function to enhance or diminish vulnerability to criminalisation, victimisation and injustice. Underpinning these analyses are notions of power, which prove central to considerations of the extent to which globalisation informs patterns of gendered offending, victimisation and access to justice
Critical criminology constitutes a broad and multi-disciplinary tradition that studies the complex relationships between crime, control and power. The module will aim to acquaint students with the richness of writings in this field, the variety of political positions and the development of different traditions in the UK, US and the European continent. Critical criminology has also taken a recent interest in the processes associated with globalisation, thus giving rise to an emerging sub-discipline, global criminology. The module will also examine how this allows new understandings of crime, power and control, which link the global to the local. Various theoretical perspectives will be encountered, including those of new deviancy theory, Marxism, Foucauldian thought, left realism, abolitionism, social harm perspectives and, more recently, cultural criminology.
Social theory is a nebulous field of inquiry with fuzzy boundaries. Some of the most significant contributions to it in terms of ideas and concepts have historically originated in the work of thinkers diversely identified with a wide range of disciplines - such as psychoanalysis, philosophy, anthropology, literary and aesthetic theory, historical and cultural studies, as well as with sociology. This module approaches contemporary social theory by exploring a set of themes through close readings and analyses of several texts by 20th and 21st century theorists whose work has been to varying degrees appropriated across the social sciences and the humanities, but yet whose contribution to 'social theory' per se is still open to question, in any case far from canonical.
In working through these selected primary texts within a seminar group, the aim is to critically investigate and evaluate what they offer to social theory, and to critically assess their usefulness for understanding various social and political phenomena characteristic of contemporary life and society in a globalised world. During the course of such detailed discussions, we will also, no doubt, reflect on the distinction between modern and postmodern social theory; the 'linguistic turn', the ‘cultural turn’, the ‘ethical turn’, the shift from narrative to image based culture, and other general parameters of social theorizing in recent times.
This module examines the way work shapes society and in turn how society shapes work. Drawing on the fields of sociology, cultural sociology, social policy as well as other disciplines this module explores work in a variety of competing and complementing ways and in doing so offers students a chance to appreciate different themes, issues, methodologies and approaches. These include work identity and meaning; age, generation and class; visual methods and approaches; the cultures of work; work/life balance and the end of work.
The module will explore the following indicative topics:
• Sociological analysis of the term 'parenting'
• The social history of debates about 'the family' and the sociology of privacy
• The changing meaning of childhood, motherhood and fatherhood
• The meaning of the term ‘intensive parenthood’ and its relation to expertise and risk culture
• The sociology of identity, as applied in studies of the experience of parenting
• The relationship of policies linking family life to broader social policy
• Critiques of state intervention in family life and of particular contemporary parenting policies
This module will examine the emergence and development of the modern prison in the light of the major social and economic changes that have taken place over the last two hundred years. It will examine the changing functions of the prison over that period and will look at the development of community based sanctions and alternatives to custody. It will then examine the reasons for the growth of imprisonment in the post war period and in particular its rapid increase on both sides of the Atlantic over the past two decades. It will examine the issues of gender and race in relation to prisons and penal policy and examine the key debates concerning the changing composition of the prison population. It will then go on to look at penal reform and in particular the impact of privatisation on the prison system.
The aims of this module are two-fold:
First, to provide students with the opportunity to independently carry out an in-depth inquiry to investigate a research question(s) of their choice, producing a coherent review of the relevant literature, a logical discussion and a clearly communicated set of conclusions in the form of a dissertation. Second, to provide students with an assessed opportunity to apply their skills as 'research-minded' practitioners with a view to being able to undertake future research in practice settings and/or take a lead role in supervising others in such work.
During the spring term, the students will finalise their dissertation proposal with their chosen supervisor (having received prior guidance on the aims, the structure and the process of the dissertation). If the dissertation requires ethical research approval, an application will be submitted to the School research ethics committee by the beginning of the summer term. During the summer term and vacation, students will meet their supervisor regularly to discuss the progress of their dissertation. The supervisors will provide feedback on written work and will set work plans and targets for the students. The dissertation topic will relate to a key question, issue and problem within social science.
Teaching and assessment
Assessment is by six coursework essays and the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide a post-graduate programme in criminology of the highest standard with teaching that is informed by internationally recognised research and scholarship
- give you a comprehensive overview and understanding of contemporary debates in criminology and criminal justice including those around diversity and inequality
- involve you in a critical analysis of crime and punishment in relation to developments in social theory, sociology and social policy
- provide an understanding of the social processes that influence the relationship between individuals, groups and institutions
- focus on the relevance of social science for the analysis and assessment of crime and criminal justice policy
- provide you with an advanced understanding of the ways in which quantitative and qualitative research methodologies may be used to study crime and criminal justice
- give you a critical awareness of the political and populist influences on criminal justice policy
- enable you to understand the emergence of social problems (including crime) and the responses of welfare and criminal justice institutions, including analysis of the theoretical, political and economic underpinnings of these responses
- build on the University’s close European ties by providing the potential for students to participate in the European Common Study programme in Criminology.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- sociological and cultural theories of crime
- the historical development of the study of crime and the institutions of criminal justice
- the ways in which images and notions of crime are constructed
- the main sources of data about crime, socio-demographics and the economy
- the impact of political, public and media debates on criminal justice policy
- the relevance of social science for understanding crime and the workings of the criminal justice system
- the relationship between sociological theories of crime and punishment and empirical studies of the same
- patterns and types of offending
- patterns of social diversity and inequality, their origins and consequences.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- advanced research skills including the ability to identify a research question and to answer it by gathering and analysing appropriate data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
- understand the nature and appropriate use, including the ethical implications, of diverse social research strategies.
- distinguish between technical, normative, moral and political questions
- an ability to communicate sophisticated and complex theoretical ideas to a critical audience.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to identify and use theories and concepts in criminology to analyse issues of crime and criminal justice within both national and international contexts
- the ability to seek out and use statistical data relevant to issues of crime and criminal justice
- the ability to undertake, either on your own, or in collaboration with others, advanced investigations of criminological and criminal justice questions
- a high level of ability in exploring the inter-relationships between theory, method, policy and practice as applied to crime and criminal justice
- qualitative methods of data analysis: archival and documentary research, interpretation of texts, the use of electronic search materials appropriate for criminological analysis.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including where appropriate the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including statistical or numerical information
- numeracy: the ability to make sense of statistical material, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
- information technology: the ability to produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases
- work with others: the ability to define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function, collaborate with others, contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals and have sensitivity to the values and interests of others and to the dimensions of difference
- improve your own learning: the ability to explore your strengths and weaknesses, time management, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in your learning, work independently, demonstrating initiative and self-organisation
- important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research with clear starting dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research and developing appropriate means of investigating the use of time
- problem-solving: the ability to identify and define complex problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
- Personal career development: you are encouraged to proactively manage your own career progression and we will support you in developing your skills in researching and retrieving information on opportunities for internships and employment and continuing personal and career development.
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
- Home full-time £9500
- EU full-time £13500
- International full-time £18000
- Home part-time £4750
- EU part-time £6750
- International part-time £9000
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com.
Your fee status
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
General additional costs
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at the following postgraduate-specific pages as well as any featured scholarships:
- University and external funds
- Scholarships specific to the academic school delivering this programme.
We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.Search scholarships
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Social Work and Social Policy research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or 'internationally excellent' for impact and environment.
Following the REF 2021, Social Work and Social Policy at Kent was ranked 3rd in the UK in the Times Higher Education.
The School has a long-established tradition of conducting criminological research.
Crime, Culture and Control
The group covers a diverse range of topics, employs both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and draws upon different theoretical traditions. We have particular expertise in the following areas: cultural criminology; crime, punishment and social change; drug use; gender, crime and criminal justice; penology and imprisonment (especially of female offenders); policing; quasi-compulsory treatment for drug-using offenders; race, crime and criminal justice; restorative justice and young offenders; crime and the ‘night-time economy’, terrorism and political crime; violence; youth crime and youth justice.
Present and current research has been funded by the ESRC, the Home Office and the Youth Justice Board.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills. We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation as well as time management and leadership skills. You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School. A postgraduate degree in the area of Criminology is a particularly valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions.
Recent graduates have gone on to pursue careers across the criminal justice system, encompassing areas such as counter-terrorism, advocacy, probation, social policy and research. Our graduates have found positions in organisations such as the Civil Service, the Ministry of Justice, various police services and the Probation Service.
The Graduate School ensures that the academic and social interests of postgraduate students are provided for within the University. It works alongside academic schools to support and develop internationally distinctive, exciting and innovative programmes of study that combine academic excellence with an exceptional student experience and appropriate learning resources through the provision of:
- high-quality postgraduate facilities
- a supportive environment for the intellectual interests of our postgraduates
- an excellent Researcher Development Programme
- a strong framework of specialist support for our postgraduates across the University
- the cultivation of external links with Research Councils, graduate schools and other organisations, both nationally and internationally, to provide further funding and study opportunities.
For more details see our Graduate School page.
Our postgraduate students are given 24-hour access to dedicated office space within the School and are able to take advantage of excellent library and computing facilities.
The Common Study Programme in Critical Criminology
All Canterbury-based Kent postgraduate students are offered the opportunity to add an international dimension to their criminological study by participating in the Common Studies Sessions in Critical Criminology. This student-led event provides the opportunity to exchange ideas and deliver papers on topics relating to critical, cultural and international criminology at a bi-annual conference run in collaboration with Kent’s international criminology partners, which include Erasmus University, Rotterdam; the Universities of Barcelona, Bologna, Ghent, Hamburg, Middlesex, Porto and Utrecht; ELTE, Budapest; the Democritus University of Thrace; the University of the Peloponnese, Corinth; and the CUNY Graduate Center, New York. The Common Study Sessions are hosted in turn by each of the participating institutions.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: The British Journal of Criminology; Urban Studies; Theoretical Criminology; Crime, Media, Culture; Ethnography.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.
Apply for entry to:
United Kingdom/EU enquiries
MA at Canterbury
T: +44 (0)1227 768896
International student enquiries
T: +44 (0)1227 823254