Criminology studies crimes and their causes, effects, and social impact. Learn how to ‘think like a criminologist’ and apply Criminology to the context of modern life, social diversity and inequalities in society. Criminologists are interested in how activities are defined as criminal, explanations for crime and social reactions to crime.

We're ranked 1st in Scotland and Top 5 in the UK for Criminology (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023). Our Criminology courses explore fascinating questions surrounding the criminal justice system, the social contexts of crime, and the relationship between behaviour and punishment:

  • Why and how do people break the law?
  • How can the criminal justice system define this
  • How do we police, prosecute and punish people?

Criminology courses

Courses labelled are available for online study only.

Undergraduate courses
CourseStart date
BA (Hons) Criminology and Social PolicySeptember 2024, January 2025
BA (Hons) Criminology and SociologySeptember 2024, January 2025
Postgraduate courses
CourseStart date
MSc Criminological ResearchSeptember 2024
MSc CriminologySeptember 2024

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We offer a variety of scholarship and funding options to help you finance your studies at the University of Stirling.

Undergraduate scholarships

See more undergraduate scholarships

Postgraduate scholarships

See more postgraduate scholarships

Graduate careers in Criminology

Our Criminology graduates are in demand for a wide range of roles throughout the private, public and voluntary sectors. The skills you’ll learn in critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving are highly valued by employers and will give you the edge in the job market.

Criminology can give you a career in areas such as:

  • the police
  • social work
  • prison service
  • the civil service
  • human rights agencies
  • regulatory fields
  • criminal justice
  • marketing or lobby groups
  • central and local government
  • court services
  • security services
  • non-profit-making organisations, including the NHS, educational institutions and charities that work with young offenders or victims of crime

Partnerships and industry

We have strong links with organisations situated on the University of Stirling campus. These include the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice ResearchThe Scottish Institute for Policing Research, and the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research.

We are involved in the Drugs Research Network for Scotland. The network aims to develop collaborative research across disciplines, organisations and countries to generate high-quality evidence that will inform developments in police and practice.

Criminology research

Criminology research is carried out in the Faculty of Social Science. Underlining the expertise of our staff, we scored highly in the recent Research Excellence Framework 2021 – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, we ranked 3rd in Scotland and top 25 in the UK – with 100% of our research environment and 88% of our research deemed world leading or internationally excellent.

The Crime and Justice Research Group

Research activities are focused thematically around four key areas:

  • contested concepts and identities
  • criminal justice - systems and processes
  • critical social and criminological theory
  • organised crime

Our research findings have been shared widely, making significant contributions to knowledge and informing policy and practice development within Scotland and internationally.

We work with policymakers, practitioners, communities and the public to collaboratively build just societies.

Our research group and the Faculty of Social Sciences co-host the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), a partnership between the Universities of Glasgow, Stirling, Edinburgh, and Strathclyde.

We also host the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research (SACASR) and are a member of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) consortium.

Postgraduate research opportunities

Our world-class teaching is underpinned by leading-edge empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment which welcomes and supports PhD researchers in achieving their goals. See all our PhD opportunities in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology.