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    2022 start September 

    International Criminology

    School of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences

    One of only a few courses that uses comparative and international perspectives to explore the key issues in criminology today.
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    Course description

    This course includes elements of international criminology and research training. It is one of the very few courses that use comparative and international perspectives to explore the key issues in criminology today.

    The course is flexible, you can choose the taught path or the research route. 

    Apply now


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Issues in Comparative Penology

    This module studies punishment in its social contexts. It examines how penal systems work and in what ways they vary between different societies. The module will draw on an ongoing survey of penal systems in twelve countries. Students of different nationalities will have every opportunity to discuss and compare their own countries' experiences. Topics covered will include sentencing, imprisonment, non-custodial penalties, young offenders, privatisation of punishment, penal philosophies and the sociology of punishment.

    15 credits
    The Research Process

    This module provides an introduction to the principles and practices of social science research. It will provide an overview of key concepts and distinctions, such as between epistemology and ontology, methods and methodology, subjectivity and objectivity, inductive and deductive reasoning, as well setting out some of the main principles of ethical social science research. It will also encourage students to critically reflect on how to put these principles into practice. It will teach students how to conduct literature searches, as well as exploring some of the main data collection and analysis techniques used in social science research, and how research studies are designed.

    15 credits
    Responding to Crime in Europe

    This provides an introductory examination, at Master's level, of the levels of crime and the approaches taken in responding to crime across Europe. The focus will be comparative, considering the levels of victimisation, criminal justice organisation, and crime prevention initiatives that have been taken and put in place in different European countries.

    15 credits
    The Cultures of Criminology

    Criminology is a subject area to which the academic disciplines of sociology, psychology, economics and law are brought to bear. This module explores the cultures of criminology - what criminologists take for granted as coomon-sense about the theory and methods they use to explore various subjects - to discover the very different theoretical and related methodological assumptions made by criminologists of particular academic persuasions. This aids our understanding of the benefits and shortcomings of choosing one theoretical perspectivr over another, and of the complexities of cross-cultural, comparative research. All of which has direct relevance to what could be called 'applied criminology' - the world of policy and adminiatration.

    15 credits
    Dissertation (International Criminology)

    Students must complete a 10,000-12,000 word dissertation on a legal topic of their choice within the field of international criminology. The dissertation gives the student the opportunity to explore an area of their interest in some depth. To achieve a masters standard the student is required to demonstrate an up-to-date critical analysis of the topic chosen for discussion.

    60 credits

    Optional modules - examples include:

    Crime and Globalisation

    The module examines crime in global perspective, including crime problems that have typically gone below the criminological radar and crime problems of the Global South. The module will examine crimes that cross national borders, new forms of (often organised) crime, crimes comitted by nation states, 'crimes' in zones without law and new, transnational, definitions of criminal conduct. In this module students will encounter case studies of crimes from a variety of global locations and will engage with up to the minute criminological research and theorising that attempts to understand and explain crime in a global context.

    15 credits
    Criminality, Victimhood and War

    The module will examine the contested nature of criminality and victimhood within the context of war. Set against the backdrop of the post-9/11 War on Terror, it will explore how states, soldiers, contractors and civilians can all be characterised as both criminals and victims.

    15 credits
    Critical Approaches to Terrorism and Counterterrorism

    This module critically examines terrorism and counterterrorism, and its impacts on law, criminal justice, and security. It draws on theoretical, legal and empirical terrorism research, and case studies from the UK, USA and other jurisdictions as well as considering efforts to define terrorism, and explores the roles of the media and social media in framing terrorism. The module examines efforts to combat terrorism through new legislation, policing, application of exceptional government powers, and community-based initiatives alongside exploring intended and unintended consequences of counterterrorism, including impacts on targeted communities and legitimacy implications.

    15 credits
    Gender and Violence

    Gender and Violence focuses on inter-personal violence - sexual violence; 'domestic' violence; 'domestic' murder; male-on-male violence; and child abuse. The module examines whether and how extreme violence could be theorized as gendered. It explores how sexual and 'domestic' violence have been and are represented in popular discourse; in the law; in criminal justice processes; and in service provision and it traces developments in these areas, using case-studies and international comparisons.

    15 credits
    International Criminal Law

    This module examines the material and subjective elements of international crimes namely, the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression; the criminal responsibility of individuals, and the mechanisms for the prosecution and punishment of the offenders. It also considers alternative methods of attributing justice. The module will mainly focus on the International Criminal Court and its jurisprudence and on the jurisprudence of the Yugoslav (ICTY) and the Rwanda (ICTR) Tribunals.

    15 credits
    Methods of Criminological Research

    This is an advanced course in criminological research methods, building on the knowledge acquired in the first semester. It will further develop students' appreciation of the relationship between theory and methods, research design, and particular techniques, as applied in criminology. The module will focus in particular on evaluation. It will cover the theoretical basis of evaluation, and the application of evaluation methodology to interventions with individuals (such as treatment programmes), and communities (such as crime prevention and community safety programmes).

    15 credits
    Policing and Society

    The aim of the module is to explore relationships between the police, citizens and their wider socio-political context. After all, the police are the 'litmus paper' for the unfolding dynamics of society. The module starts by familiarising students with key concepts, such as discretion, coercion and accountability. The module then goes to explore in-depth the history of policing, theories of policing, police powers and citizens' rights, community policing and patterns of policing in late-modern global societies, including civilianisation, privatisation and transnationalisation. This module draws partly on empirical evidence from England and Wales and other common law jurisdictions, but is also grounded in sociological theories about policing and society.

    15 credits
    Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

    This module aims to familiarise students with a range of research methods and analyses in common use in criminology and related social science disciplines. It will introduce students to quantitative and qualitative research techniques and guide them through a combination of formal teaching and workshop experience. The module will introduce basic concepts such as sampling, distributions, hypothesis testing and descriptive statistics and the use of computer programs, such as SPSS. It then goes on to bivariate statistics such as correlation and cross-tabulation along with relevant statistical tests. Students will become familiar with the key role that secondary data analysis now plays in criminology and other social sciences. It will cover a range of data collection techniques including interviewing, observation, documents and archives, and the use of visual data, as well as distinct research approaches including ethnography and mixed methods. Across the range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, students will learn how to use methods appropriately and with confidence, and how to interpret the results produced by those methods clearly and correctly.

    30 credits
    Restorative Justice

    This module examines the historical and theoretical foundations of restorative justice as a response to offending behaviour. The various practices associated with restorative justice (including victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing and police-led conferencing) around the world are examined and their relationship with 'formal' systems of criminal justice considered. The module also critically considers the effectiveness of restorative justice practices from the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders, including victims, offenders, communities and politicians.

    15 credits
    Theorising Punishment in a Global Perspective

    This module provides an advanced introduction to penal theory – the philosophical, political, legal and social theory of criminal punishment. It highlights the four major questions that penal theorists engage with: the definitional (what is criminal punishment?); the justificatory (Should we punish? Why?); and the distributive (How much should we punish?). We typically ask and answer these questions in the abstract, but this course situates them comparatively, exploring how the answers offered differ between different historical periods and across transnational and international boundaries.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

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    • 1 year full-time
    • 2 years part-time


    Teaching in each module is through seminars.


    Most modules will be assessed by 3,000 words of written work in the form of an essay. The dissertation will normally be 10,000-12,000 words long, reporting on research on a topic relevant to the course and agreed in consultation with a supervisor.

    Student profiles

    The University of Sheffield is the perfect place to study International Criminology because it has such a diverse range of staff and international students to develop rich debate and conversation. The support has been amazing with check-ups on how I’m doing and the teachers are happy to talk to you if you’re having issues understanding any topics.

    Shannon Tighe
    MA International Criminology

    Entry requirements

    We require a minimum 2:1 honours degree, or international equivalent, in criminology, law or a cognate social sciences or humanities subject. Other qualifications will be considered and relevant work experience will be taken into consideration alongside qualifications.

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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