Criminology and Social Policy

BA (Hons)


1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK for Criminology

The Guardian University Guide, 2018

1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK for Social Policy

The Guardian University Guide, 2018

How does society work? How are crime and other social problems situated in society, and how do different cultures understand these problems? What can we learn from the success of social policies in other countries?

This course provides an international and comparative approach to help you understand a wide range of social issues including crime and criminal justice, inequality and welfare, race, immigration, disability, addictions, youth and ageing.

You will attain a strong training in criminology and the theory and methods of applied social science. If you are considering a career in the police, prison service or human rights agencies, it will provide a strong academic base.

Criminology is based in the Faculty of Social Sciences and can be studied as a joint degree only. It can be combined with: Law (MM91); Philosophy (MV95); Politics (ML92); Social Policy (LL64), or Sociology (LM39).

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: Combined degree only
  • Qualification: BA (Hons)
  • Study methods: Campus based
  • Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Download course leaflet
Download undergraduate prospectus

Dr Niall Hamilton Smith, Course Director

View fees and finance

What makes us different?

Why study Criminology and Social Policy at Stirling?

Our Expertise

Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research.

Our Location

You will benefit from the very strong practical/applied focus at Stirling and the strong links between research (notably through research centres such as the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, The Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research, The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection and the Dementia Services Development Centre) and teaching. 

Our Flexibility

The Stirling degree structure is very flexible in the first two years allowing students to experiment with new subjects.

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

Learn more

Library shelves

Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

Watch our videos now

Live Life

Take the 360° tour

View our stunning campus and facilities in 3D and find out out why Stirling is a great place to study, live, work and play.

View our tours  >

Campus 360 tour

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points
BTEC (Level 3):


Essential subjects:
To include Sociology.

Other qualifications


Minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.

Advanced entry
Advanced entry is possible with an HNC/D in Social Sciences

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Foundation Apprenticeships:

Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Essential subjects:

As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

Mathematics Standard Grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

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: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

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.

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/9

Overseas students (non-EU) £12,140.00
Scottish and EU students £1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships and funding

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

You will take Sociology, Social Policy modules plus two other modules in Year 1.

Semesters 1 - 3

You are required to take the following core

  • Social Differentiation: The effects that differences in gender, age, ethnicity and status have on the way in which people are treated in different societies
  • Social Problems: Contemporary social issues and policy responses including crime, white collar crime and immigration crime,
  • Understanding Social Policy: Historical and theoretical perspectives on social policy analysis including crime policy

Semesters 4 - 8

You must take core advanced modules in:

  • Crime and Criminal Justice: The architecture of the criminal justice system, and evidence on, and explanations for, crime and offending
  • The Development of Social Theory
  • Research Process: Introduction to methods of social research and analysis, including practical and project work
  • Honours Seminar: Doing Social Research :Designed to enhance your ability to synthesise theoretical, methodological and empirical work in Criminology and centres on the process of research.

Honours students are required to produce a 10,000 word dissertation in Criminology and take two further advanced modules.

Optional modules currently include:

  • Crime, Risk and Modernity
  • Crimes of the Powerful
  • Punishment and Society
  • Criminological Theories in Context
  • Gender, Crime and Justice
  • Drugs, Crime and Society
  • Urban Society

Delivery and assessment

Teaching for each course in Criminology usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides you with an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest to the student.

You will also receive tuition in both qualitative and quantitative research methods and this learning is applied in the Year 4 dissertation module. Year 1 modules aim to bridge the gap between school and university study through coursework assessments, which will provide you with a trial run before attempting coursework essays.

A mentoring system is also in place for Year 3 students entering Honours.

Combined degrees

CourseUCAS Code
Law MM91
Philosophy MV95
Politics ML92

Learn more about studying these subjects

Related degrees

Criminology and Sociology; Sociology and Social Policy. 

Recommended reading

  • Carrabine, E., Iganski, P., Lee, M., Plummer, K and South, N. (2004) Criminology: A sociological introduction. Routledge
  • Croall, H. Mooney, G. and Munro, M. (2010) Criminal Justice in Scotland London: Routledge
  • Hale, C., Hayward, K., Wahidin, A. and Wincup, E. (2009) Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • McLaughlin, E. and Muncie, J. (2001) Controlling Crime London: Sage
  • Muncie, J. and McLaughlin, E. (2001) The Problem of Crime London: Sage
  • Newburn, T (2007) Criminology Devon: Willan

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.



1 (Autumn)

Social differentiation


Any two optional modules from across the University

1 (Spring)

Social problems


Any two optional modules from across the University

2 (Autumn)

Understanding social policy


Two optional modules from combined degree course

2 (Spring)

Crime and Criminal Justice


The Development of Social Theory


One optional module from combined degree course

3 (Autumn)

Research Process 1


Two optional modules from combined degree course

3 (Spring)

Research Process 2


Two optional modules from combined degree course

4 (Autumn)

One optional module from combined degree course

4 (Spring)

One optional module from combined degree course

4 (Autumn/Spring0

Dissertation Honours seminar (Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy combined degree students only)

Why Stirling?


1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK for Criminology (The Guardian University Guide, 2018)

1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK for Social Policy (The Guardian University Guide, 2018)

7th in the UK for Social Policy (The Complete University Guide, 2018)

1st in Scotland and 5th in the UK for Criminology (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2017)

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Our staff

Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research. This ensures that our teaching engages with real-world issues in a critical, informed and engaging manner. Lecturers on and related to the course also work on, for example, police practice, dementia, children affected by parental substance use, substance use, development or economic cooperation draw on this research in their teaching.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Criminology provides a good academic base if you are considering careers in the police, the prison service, probation, social work, community care and law, regulatory fields such as the factory and tax inspectorates, human rights agencies, charitable foundations and lobby groups.

As well as specific subject-based knowledge, you will graduate with a wide range of experience and skills; in particular, communication skills, self management skills and interpersonal skills. These give graduates a competitive edge with employers across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Stirling Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy graduates have a higher-than-average (in the UK) employment rate in degree relevant careers.

You will learn how to identify and recognise the inherent importance and value of a discipline from an economic, social and cultural perspective, and making links between the discipline and professional opportunities. You will also learn how to become a critical thinker with analytical and problem-solving abilities, able to reshape and transform knowledge to generate new understandings, which you can then apply creatively in different contexts.


© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon