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MSc Applied Social Research (Criminology)

Work towards a future in criminal justice research with a Masters from the University of Stirling – ranked 1st in Scotland for the study of Criminology (The Guardian University Guide 2019) .

Applied Social Research (Criminology)

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Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Start date September or January
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 30 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Accreditations Economic and Social Research Council

The University of Stirling is ranked 1st in Scotland and top 10 in the UK for Criminology (The Guardian University Guide 2019), and our Applied Social Research (Criminology) Masters is ideal if you want to develop the skills and expertise you need to undertake robust research in the field of criminal justice.

We cover the principles of collecting, analysing and reporting on qualitative and quantitative data whilst also taking account of ethics, reliability and validity. You’ll critically examine the theoretical foundations that underpin criminology and socio-legal research, as well as exploring issues with comparative research and developing an understanding of the relationship between criminology research and policymaking.

The course is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council and is supported by staff from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Criminal Justice Research – a multi-university body with international influence and links to academics, policymakers and practitioners around the world.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    This MSc course has been designed to ensure you graduate with the ability to:

    • collect, analyse and report qualitative and quantitative data, taking account of ethics, reliability and validity
    • critically examine the theoretical foundations that underpin criminological and socio-legal research
    • examine issues concerning comparative criminological and socio-legal research
    • understand the relationship between criminological research and policy, and the meanings of evaluation, its terminology, practice and use

    The course is designed to be suitable for both novice and experienced researchers. No matter what your level of expertise may be, we’ll equip you with the necessary knowledge and abilities to become successfully employed as a researcher or enrolled as a PhD student.

    You’ll study in a multi-disciplinary environment where internationally renowned staff introduce you to cutting edge empirical and theoretical research.

    MRes or MSc?

    Uniquely, we offer you the opportunity to graduate with an MRes or MSc. Whether you’re studying for the MSc Applied Social Research (Criminology) or the MRes Criminological Research, you’ll follow the exact same pathways. The choice of award is designed to give you freedom in determining what outcome will suit your future aspirations.

    MSc Applied Social Research (Criminology)

    The Master of Science is the ideal preparation for social research and evaluation in criminal justice and criminology and will suit you if you want to pursue a career in academia and use the MSc as a precursor to completing a PhD.

    MRes Criminological Research

    The Masters of Research is best suited to you if you see your future career in research, research management and commissioning or using research. Take a look at the MRes Criminological Research course.

  • Professional accreditations

    This course is recognised as research training by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for those who are studying or going on to study for a PhD (+3), and is also recognised by the ESRC for Masters Course plus Research Studentship (1+3) purposes.

  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Research

    When you study Applied Social Research (Criminology) at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.

    Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF 2014) – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, highlights included:

    • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading
    • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
    • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world leading or internationally excellent
    • we were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK
  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

    INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma if you don’t meet the required criteria for this course. If you successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences and meet the required progression grades, you’ll be guaranteed entry onto this Masters degree.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
    • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C or above
    • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B or above
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

    More information on our English language requirements

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Enhance your research skills and open up future opportunities in Criminology with this versatile Masters degree. The MSc Applied Social Research (Criminology) comprises six compulsory taught core modules and a dissertation. Alternatively, you can graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma by completing the core modules but not the dissertation.

You can study the course full-time or part-time:

Full-time: one year, four/five modules per semester

Part-time: two and a half years, two modules per semester


The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    You’ll participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials, computer-based workshops and group work. Teaching methods are tailored for each module to help you acquire new skills in critical thinking, research methodologies, communication and analytical thinking.

  • Assessment

    You’ll be assessed via a combination of essays, book reviews, research proposals, presentations, critical review essays, a computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis, and – for MSc students – the research dissertation. There are no examinations.

  • Course director
  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)

      2018/19 2019/20

    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £4,700 £5,500

    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £13,650 £14,300

    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding

    Fully funded places are available on this course through the ESRC. See more details on the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science website.

    Other sources of funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support. .

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

You’ll graduate with a choice of careers available to you across the criminal justice system. This includes joining the Civil Service, the Crown Prosecution Service, Police Scotland and other services in the UK or overseas. Other graduates have steered their career towards academia, research management or gone on to do further study, such as the Applied Social Research (Doctorate) or PhD.

  • Benefit from our links to the criminal justice sector and Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
  • Boost your employability by studying at Scotland’s top-rated university for criminology (The Guardian University Guide 2018)
  • Graduate with the skills to pursue a career in the criminal justice system or academia
  • Companies we work with

    The course is supported by staff from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), which is a collaboration of several Scottish universities. It aims to produce excellent research and develop excellent researchers to enhance the development of policy, practice and public debate around crime and justice. The SCCJR carries international influence and works with fellow academics, policymakers, practitioners and others involved with justice all over the world. As well as benefitting from the expert input of the SCCJR, students studying this MSc Applied Social Research (Criminology) course can also attend regular events hosted by the organisation.

    The course and its students will also benefit from our strong links to the applied crime and criminal justice sector, including Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service.

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