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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Criminology and Social Research (MA)

Overview Combines the study of criminology with advanced training in social research methods


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Take a sociological look at the nature and causes of crime. With this degree, you'll learn how to analyse a wide range of data to examine the motivations behind why people commit crime and how societies attempt to control them.  

Course content What you’ll study


In this course, you will analyse crime, deviance and social control and conduct research to examine their impact on society.

In the criminology modules, you'll gain a deeper understanding of why some people are motivated to offend and how this behaviour can shape our communities and our responses to crime.

In the social research methods modules, you will develop practical skills and techniques in qualitative and quantitative research.


This degree includes three criminology modules and three social research modules:

Advances in Criminological Theory
As patterns of crime and deviance change, criminological theory is constantly adapting to keep pace with it. Examining emerging trends in criminological theory, you will learn to understand and evaluate new ideas and develop the skills to identify and communicate similarities and contrasts between the theories of crime and social control.

Critical Perspectives on the Criminal Justice System
You'll study crime prevention, policing methods, the legal system and the system of punishment in the UK. Extending beyond a purely criminological approach, you will gain an insight into the criminal justice system as viewed from different sociological perspectives relating to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class.

Law and Social Control 
Explore how formal and informal forms of social control shape the social order of contemporary societies.
By examining a wide range of social controls — from formal, legally mandated mechanisms within criminal justice systems, to informal mechanisms embedded in everyday life — you'll consider the various ways individuals and groups influence the behaviours of others.

Qualitative Methods
Qualitative Methods will give you an understanding of the key methods of qualitative data collection and analysis, with research techniques such as:

  • Observation
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Visual data in social science research
  • Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis
  • Narrative, interaction and discourse analysis.

Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis
This module provides you with the skills and techniques to analyse key sets of data, using methods such as:

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Tables and chi-squared test
  • Analysis of variance
  • Multiple and logistic regression analyses.

Advanced Methods in Social Research
You will build on the qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods studied in the previous modules, improving your skills and techniques and learning to master more advanced research-based software packages.


The course culminates in a dissertation in an area of your choice. Using the information and techniques learned on the course, you will plan and carry out an independent research project. You will then analyse the findings and produce a 15,000 word report written in the style of, and to the standard of, an article for journal submission. 

The dissertation will be supervised by a member of staff with experience in your research area.

Study abroad

This course is not associated with a specific Study Abroad programme, but York offers a number of options through international partnering programmes.

Study Abroad with York

Funding opportunities

A range of scholarships and studentships are available for masters students. 

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

Modules are composed of lectures and seminars where you can discuss readings in a group. A member of the teaching staff will act as your supervisor throughout the degree, to help guide your studies and monitor progress.

  • You will spend time working on your own, reading assigned texts and researching supporting materials, as well as working with others in seminars to discuss and present your work.
  • You'll also attend seminars from visiting scholars on a wide variety of sociological topics.


Core modules will be assessed by a mixture of ‘open’ essays (where an assignment is prepared in your own time and handed in) and presentations.

  • Open assessments are released early in the term so you can select one or more essay titles to read around the topic and plan your chosen essay.
  • To cap your studies, you'll complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an original piece of your own research.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

In addition to preparing you for doctoral study, a criminology and sociology degree like our MA in Criminology and Social Research can lead to a wide variety of careers in the fields of crime and justice. The mix of practical and analytical skills you'll acquire will position you competitively for jobs in this popular field. 

Our Sociology alumni

Career opportunities

  • Teaching and academia
  • Criminology specialist at a criminal justice-related organisation
  • Central government
  • Local government
  • Commercial research
  • Policy-making

Transferable skills

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Understanding of criminal law and policy
  • Design and completion of original research
  • Communication skills

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

Applicants must have at least a 2:1 degree in sociology, criminology in a cognate discipline or equivalent suitable experience or qualifications. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact the course coordinator. 


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically with our online system, which allows you to save progress and return later to finish. If you're unable to apply online, you can submit a paper application.

Applying for postgraduate study

Start your online application


English language

If your native language is not English, you should meet an English language proficiency level of 7.0 in the British Council's IELTS test with at least IELTS 6.0 in writing. We do accept other English Language Tests. Students who have successfully completed a recent undergraduate degree at a UK University are exempt from the English Language requirement.

We also strongly recommend that applicants attend the University's Intensive Summer Courses organised by the EFL Unit.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions

Related courses

  • Social Research MA

Next steps

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