University of Chester

Programme Specification
Criminology BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)


Criminology (including a Foundation Year)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Gateway House/Chester Parkgate Road campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years full-time

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science


Not applicable

Learning and Teaching Institute (Level 3); Social and Political Science (Level 4-6)

Monday 18th January 2016

This dynamic study of criminology, whether on its own or in combination with another subject, enables students to develop a critical understanding of:

  • The major theories which are deployed throughout the social sciences that seek to explain the social and personal context of all aspects of crime, victimisation, and responses to crime and deviance.
  • Key concepts and theoretical approaches that have been developed, and are continuing to develop in relation to crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
  • The basic principles of social research as applicable to criminological topics.
  • How to conduct research and analysis of findings
  • What can be achieved by different quantitative and qualitative methodologies and techniques
  • When a particular methodology is most appropriately used
  • How the results or research findings of any particular study may be evaluated
  • The ethical principles governing criminological research
  • The principles of human rights and civil liberties which are applicable to the different stages of the criminal justice process, and to all official responses to crime and deviance
  • The dimensions of social divisions and social diversity in relation to criminological topics
  • The construction influence of representations of crime and victims, and of responses to crime and deviance, as found in official reports, the mass media, and public opinion
  • The local, national and international contexts of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance

Key to this programme is the introduction and sustained development of a ‘criminological imagination' to instil a life-long enthusiasm for the subject and key areas of criminological analysis (as identified in section 27).

FHEQ Level 3

At level 3 students should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of terms and concepts relevant to the subject-specific modules, use academic study skills at the required level for further study at the University, Identify how theory can be applied to practice and be aware of how undergraduate study prepares students for a professional career.

FHEQ Level 4:

At level 4 students will gain knowledge of key historical and contemporary criminological theories and concepts (all modules) and learn to apply these to society and the criminal justice system to gain an understanding of the relationship between the individual, groups and institutions (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).

FHEQ Level 5:

At level 5 students will build on their knowledge base to develop a more in-depth knowledge and critical awareness of society, the criminal justice system, and agents of social control. Students will learn to critically explore the crimes and harms of the powerful and powerless in societies (SO5301, SO5307, SO5305, SO5304) and will be encouraged to think about how competing theories and ideologies help contribute to a critically informed understanding (SO5301, SO5306, SO5305, SO5304). Students have the opportunity to develop their critical understanding of the principles of human rights and civil liberties in the governance of crime and crime control (SO5307). Students develop practical knowledge about the process and practice of social research at this level and will be able to distinguish between research paradigms and understand their role in the production of knowledge in criminology (SO5103). Students also have an opportunity to apply their developing 'criminological imagination' in a work-based setting (WB5101).

FHEQ Level 6:

At level 6 students' knowledge and understanding will continue to be informed by a critical analysis of contemporary issues in criminology and crime (SO6308, SO6310, SO6309, SO6304). Students also have the opportunity to apply a critical reflection to the ways in which crime and victimisation, and agents of control, are constructed in the media (SO6303), and to recognise and evaluate comparative understandings of local, national and international contexts of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance (SO6305).The dissertation module (SO6306) will further allow students to develop an independent, in-depth exploration of a topic of their choice through a literature based study or empirical research. The latter approach will allow students to apply their knowledge of qualitative or quantitative methods, as previously taught in SO5103, to complete their research.

Thinking and cognitive skills are developed on an incremental basis as the student progresses through the three years of study. Description, together with the fostering of intellectual curiosity, at Level 4 is enhanced at Level 5 and Level 6 by the development of skills that demonstrate the ability to progressively engage in analysis and synthesis respectively. Techniques of description, critical analysis and synthesis in relation to the understanding of crime and criminology will include; the construction of reasoned arguments, the critical interpretation of evidence in relation to official and subjugated knowledges, and the development of an ability to practice reflection on knowledge which has been accumulated and developed.

FHEQ Level 3

  • Analyse, interpret and summarise information.
  • Write in an academic manner.
  • Begin to reflect on their own learning and use feedback as part of this process.
  • Demonstrate independent learning.
  • Integrate a variety of information sources to develop academically and professionally.

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Develop structured, coherent and academic arguments about the relationship between the individual, the state, criminal justice, and other regulatory bodies (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Synthesise key information from a range of sources and identify key themes and principles (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Find, read and understand academic and peer reviewed books and articles (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Understand the ethical implications of carrying out research in the social world (SO5103)
  • Interpret different approaches to research and write a research proposal (SO5103)
  • Recognise the limitations of various theoretical and empirical work  (SO5301, SO5307, SO5305, SO5304)
  • Be able to solve problems (WB5101)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Develop a critical argument throughout an extended, individual project (SO6306)
  • Apply a critical, sustained and analytical argument when explaining and debating contemporary issues in crime and criminology (SO6308, SO6310, SO6309, SO6304, SO6305, SO6303).

Students will develop an ability to manage their time and to plan, conduct and report the relationship between theory, policy and practice within and without the criminal justice process. They will do so in a variety of different oral and written formats. Students will learn how to conduct themselves in professional contexts and will gain experience in conducting small scale research, will have the opportunity to attend and contribute to an academic conference and will refine their skills in a work-based environment. They will know how to handle qualitative and quantitative data and develop IT skills throughout their degree. Students will be able to work both independently and as part of a team, will be used to working to deadlines and will have been encouraged to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses to help continuing personal development.

FHEQ Level 3 

  • Retrieve and collate information from a variety of sources.
  • Use proficient reading and writing skills in preparation for the next level of study.
  • Demonstrate ability in Business, Law and Social Sciences applications.
  • Present computing and numerical skill in the production of their assessed work.
  • Work with others for problem-solving activities. 

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Combine, interpret and judge different types of evidence relevant to criminological enquiry (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Retrieve and utilise criminological knowledge to better understand the commission of crime and responses to it (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Develop appropriate academic research and referencing skills and engage with scholarly material (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Reflect on their academic development (SO4307)
  • Establish good time management skills (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Utilise IT equipment both as a means of information retrieval and communication (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Work as a member of a team (SO5307, SO5304)
  • Establish a position in relation to academic debate (SO5305)
  • Understand and utilise qualitative and quantitative data to make claims about crime and criminology (SO5301, SO5307, SO5305, SO5304)
  • Develop existing skills and exercise personal responsibility in a work-based environment (WB5101)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Plan, manage and conduct an individual project (SO6306)
  • Apply criminological knowledge to a range of real-world problems and develop a position on how best to address these (SO6308, SO6310, SO6309, SO6304, SO6305, SO6303)
  • Carry out (where appropriate) empirical work in an ethical, safe, efficient, and effective manner (SO6306)

The programme offers opportunities to develop learning, thinking and communication skills by ensuring students work both independently and in conjunction with others across a range of different assessments.

FHEQ Level 3:

  • Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format.
  • Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes.
  • Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process.
  • Convert researched information to a summarised form.

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Write for an academic audience (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Communicate key ideas in different written forms (e.g. essays, reports, examinations) (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).
  • Verbally communicate ideas in class discussions (SO4307, SO4305, SO4308, SO4309, SO4310).

FHEQ level 5:

  • Verbally communicate information and analysis in a variety of settings (SO5307, SO5304)
  • Co-operate and communicate effectively as members of a team (SO5307, SO5304)
  • Adapt writing styles for specific audiences (SO5301, SO5307, SO5305, SO5304)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Write fluently and accurately and establish clear and critical argument and evidence-based reasoning  (SO6308, SO6310, SO6309, SO6304, SO6305, SO6303)
  • Communicate critical argument through self-directed essay or dissertation (SO6306, SO6303)
  • Verbally debate on contemporary social issues through reasoned criminological argument  (SO6308, SO6310, SO6309, SO6304, SO6305, SO6303)

The field of criminology needs to be understood as a diverse and expansive discipline.  Criminology is the scientific study of crime in all its guises.  This programme reflects the need for students to understand, relate and debate effectively the issues and theories surrounding the criminal justice system.  The degree provides students with a thorough knowledge base for working within the criminal justice arena, the person skills necessary for working in a multi-cultural society as well as a firm foundation for those people who are interested in becoming the 'new' criminologists. 

The foundation year comprises six modules listed in section 24b.  

Criminology Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  1. SO4307 Foundations in Criminology and Criminal Justice (20 credits)
  2. SO4305 Crime, Continuities & Change (20 credits)
  3. SO4308 Contemporary Youth Justice (20 credits)
  4. SO4309 Policing, Crime and Society (20 credits)
  5. SO43010 Offender Management (20 credits)

Level 5:

  • SO5301 - Theories of Crime and Justice (20 credits)
  • SO5304 - Crime, Harm and Victimisation (20 credits)
  • SO5305 - 'Dangerousness', Mental Health and Crime (20 credits)
  • SO5307 - War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (20 credits)

Level 6:

  1. SO6305 Crime Prevention & Community Safety (20 credits)
  2. SO6303 Criminal Representations (20 credits)
  3. SO6308 International (In)Justice (20 credits)
  4. SO6310 Green Criminology, Animal Harm & Wildlife Crime (20 credits)
  5. SO6309 Crime and the Life Course (20 credits)
  6. SO6304 Punishment and Penology (20 credits)
  7. SO6306 Criminology Dissertation (40 credits)

Sociology Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  • SO4102 - Self and Society
  • SO4104 - Media, Representation and Society

Level 5:

  • SO5103 - Research Methods
  • SO5106 - Citizenship and the Modern World

Level 6:

  • SO6102 - Social Change and Social Movements

Politics Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  • SO4701 Introduction to British Politics

Level 6:

  • SO6704 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs

International Relations

Level 4:

SO4901Level 5 Introduction to Security Studies

  • SO5901 Advanced to Security Studies
  • SO5902 United States: Politics and Cultures

Level 6

  • SO6055 The Art of War
  • SO6901 Africa in the World

Work Based Learning Programme Module:

  • WB5101 - Enhancing Your Employability through Work Based Learning

Study Abroad:

Students can take the programme as a five year rather than four year route which offers the possibility of one year abroad. Study Abroad students taking their forth year abroad need to register on WB5008. This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their third-year (Level 5) of study.  Students for Study Abroad must be recommended for the module, and the study programme that the student undertakes must be agreed with the department(s) that the student is studying in. Students must have successfully completed Level 5 with an overall average of 55% or higher (2.2 average), to receive final approval to participate in WB5008.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
FP3002 0 University Study Skills 20 Comp
FP3003 0 Independent Project 20 Comp
FP3102 0 Introduction to the Social Sciences 20 Comp
FP3103 0 Introduction to Law 20 Comp
FP3104 0 Foundation Maths 20 N/A
FP3105 0 Global Perspectives 20 Comp
FP3301 0 Critical Thinking 20 Comp
SO4102 4 Self and Society 20 Optional
SO4103 4 Welfare Politics 20 N/A
SO4104 4 Media, Representation and Society 20 Optional
SO4304 4 The Criminal Justice Process 20 N/A
SO4305 4 Crime, Continuities & Change 20 Comp
SO4306 4 Understanding Crime and Criminology 40 N/A
SO4307 4 Foundations in Criminology and Criminal Justice 20 Comp
SO4308 4 Contemporary Youth Justice 20 Comp
SO4309 4 Policing, Crime and Society 20 Comp
SO4310 4 Offender Management 20 Comp
SO4701 4 Introduction to British Politics 20 Optional
SO4703 4 Comparative Politics 20 N/A
SO4901 4 Introduction to Security Studies 20 Optional
SO5004 5 Globalisation and International Trade 20 N/A
SO5051 5 Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism 20 N/A
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
SO5106 5 Citizenship and the Modern World 20 Optional
SO5301 5 Theories of Crime and Justice 20 Comp
SO5304 5 Crime, Harm and Victimisation 20 Optional
SO5305 5 'Dangerousness', Mental Health and Crime 20 Optional
SO5307 5 War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity 20 Optional
SO5701 5 Politics and Policies 20 N/A
SO5702 5 The Individual and the State 20 Optional
SO5901 5 Advanced Security Studies 20 Optional
SO5902 5 United States: Politics and Cultures 20 Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Comp
SO6053 6 Politics of the Middle East 20 N/A
SO6102 6 Social Change and Social Movements 20 Optional
SO6303 6 Criminal Representations 20 Optional
SO6304 6 Punishments and Penology 20 Optional
SO6305 6 Crime Prevention and Community Safety 20 Optional
SO6306 6 Criminology Dissertation 40 Optional
SO6307 6 Contemporary Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice 20 N/A
SO6308 6 International (In)Justice and the Death Penalty 20 Optional
SO6309 6 Crime and the Life Course 20 Optional
SO6310 6 Green Criminology, Animal Harm and Wildlife Crime 20 Optional
SO6704 6 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs 20 Optional
SO6901 6 Africa in the World 20 Optional

  • 120 credits at level 3 entitles the student to a Foundation Certificate
  • 120 credits at Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education
  • 240 credits at Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Education
  • 360 credits at Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor’s degree




  • 72 UCAS points from GCE A Levels
  • BTEC Extended Diploma: MMP-MPP
  • BTEC Diploma: MM
  • Access Diploma – Pass overall
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points
  • Irish / Scottish Highers - CCCC

Other vocational qualifications at Level 3 will also be considered, such as NVQs.

Mature students (21 and over) that have been out of education for a while or do not have experience or qualifications at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The University of Chester is committed to a policy of widening access and participation by groups currently under represented in Higher Education.  To this end, we will consider a diverse range of entry qualifications and, if you are a mature student and do not hold the minimum formal qualifications, your application will be treated on an individual basis and your previous experience will be taken into account when assessing your suitability to the programme.

The British Society of Criminology (BSC) (professional body) developed a subject benchmark statement (SBS) for criminology in 2006 and the QAA their SBS for Criminology March 2014. An explicit underpinning argument for the development of the criminology benchmark statement from a teaching and learning perspective is that it will act as a baseline/reference point from which to develop modules and assess the progress of teaching and learning within the criminology community (see also The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Guidelines (2006) for preparing programme specifications). 

Whilst the subject benchmark statement points out that 'it should be regarded as minimum standards within an emergent discipline', it also points out that 'it is expected that all such programmes will enable students to develop' in seven areas:

  1. A basic understanding of the major theories which are deployed throughout the social sciences which allow us to understand the social and personal context of all aspects of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance. 
  2. An understanding of key concepts and theoretical approaches which have been developed in relation to crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
  3. An understanding of the basic principles of social research as applicable to criminological topics; of what can be achieved by different methodologies and techniques; of when a particular methodology or technique is most appropriately used; of how the results of any particular study may be evaluated; and of the ethical principles governing criminological research.
  4. A basic understanding of the principles of human rights and civil liberties which are applicable to policing, to the different stages of the criminal justice process, and to all official responses to crime and deviance.
  5. An understanding of the dimensions of social divisions and social diversity in relation to criminological topics.
  6. An understanding of the construction and influence of representations of crime and victims and of responses to crime and deviance as found in official reports, the mass media, and public opinion.
  7. An understanding of the local, national, and international contexts of crime, victimisation, and responses to crime and deviance.

It is these seven areas that underpin the design of the criminology programme in terms of content and outcomes.  That is, each of the seven areas listed above have been interpreted and translated into the seven overall programme learning outcomes.  Furthermore, these seven key areas of expected student development that have been interpreted and translated into the seven programme learning outcomes are closely interlinked with the criminology benchmark classifications/standards of subject knowledge and understanding of criminological issues and subject skills and other skills (cognitive skills; discipline-specific skills and transferable skills). 

The learning, teaching and assessment methods for the foundation year (level 3) are designed to development students’ academic skills and subject knowledge to successfully prepare them for their undergraduate degree programmes. There will be a focus on introducing students to the mode of delivery they will experience at undergraduate level on programmes across the University. These include the development of professional skills, seminars, lectures, debate, group and individual projects, and confidence with presentations and group discussion. Diversity of assessment types enables students to practise and demonstrate a wide set of knowledge and skills. There will also be instances whereby assessments will have a relationship with real-world scenarios and professional practice. Examples of assessments are group and individual presentations, exams, essays, posters and the development of a portfolio or project.

Formative assessment is a key component of development on the foundation year (level 3). This will be used so that students can monitor their own performance, reflect on their development and prepare for summative assessments. This is particularly salient for the study skills provision, where skills development will be continuously (self) appraised by students and lecturers via group and personal tutorials. The subject-specific modules and study skills curriculum are not delivered as two distinct areas of the foundation year. Students will need to demonstrate proficiency in academic study skills throughout all of their modules.

A key aspect of the foundation year (level 3) will be the identification and development of critical thinking skills and reflection on one's own progress. This will be 'situated' within the University Study Skills module but students will be expected to utilise skills-based learning from this module across the programme. The programme aims to give students opportunities to take charge of their own learning by identifying their own interests and areas for development.

Methods of learning and teaching

The programme utilises a variety of learning and teaching methods which provide opportunities for students to enhance their learning skills and personal development during their degree programme. These teaching and learning methods also take account of equal opportunities and inclusive practice. For example, the use of technology in presentations will need to take account of accessibility barriers that can be created by a range of fast moving pictures and text and thus alternatives will also need to be considered.

LECTURES - will be used to provide an introduction to the main themes, debates and interpretations of their subject, conveying basic information and signposting issues to be considered. Thus, they provide a common foundation of learning for all students. Lectures will encourage students' skills in listening, note-taking, reflection and their appreciation of how information is presented. Whilst lectures may be enhanced by the use of audio-visual aids, including electronic presentational methods, as stated above the accessibility barriers that can be created by such tools will be considered.

WORKSHOPS - these are intended to provide experience in collaborative and creative problem solving. Workshops will also aim to develop key skills in information retrieval and presentation, communication skills and team/group work skills.

TUTORIALS - timetabled and non-timetabled tutorials will provide the opportunity for individual or small groups of students to meet with individual staff members. The aim is to provide a context whereby students' personal development and progress can be assessed (formative feedback); students can be encouraged to develop learning skills; students can be assisted to make informed and realistic choices within their degree course and support can be offered for individual or group project work, work-based placements and dissertation supervision.

MANAGED LEARNING ACTIVITIES - these will comprise of formative learning activities that are set with a specific task focus to develop students' academic skills in preparation for summative assessments (in line with the QAA code of practice - ensuring students have adequate time to reflect on learning before being assessed).

PRACTICAL PROBLEM BASED ACTIVITIES - these will allow students to conduct practical activities related to a given problem/task and develop their understanding of how research evidence can inform policymaking. For example, conducting a risk assessment in order to implement crime prevention measures.

GUIDED INDEPENDENT STUDY - this will include preparation for specific assignments but also reading and reflection on issues raised in the formally structured teaching contexts. This independent study will normally include reading books and journals, including electronic sources. Web-based self-instructional packages may also be used, for example, the web detective as a web based tool for developing information literacy skills

Assessment and feedback:

Assessment is a crucial component of student learning and the assessment strategy and methods are informed by the QAA code of practice which advises consideration of:

  • the proper and sensible links between organisation of the curriculum, its staged delivery through teaching and learning sessions, the specified learning outcomes identified and the appropriate scheduling of assessment.
  • how assessment supports student learning; and
  • ensuring students have adequate time to reflect on learning before being assessed

Furthermore, assessment will reflect progression within the programme by emphasising the development of basic research, information retrieval and study skills at level one in order to enable students to develop and strengthen their analytic, interpretative and communication skills through levels two and three. Students will also be able to demonstrate their problem-solving, evaluative and reflective skills intrinsic to the discipline and their self-managed learning by level three.

Students will be assessed by both formative and summative assessment. These assessments will comprise a variety of methods and reflect the desired learning outcomes for the programme and the units within it.

Formative assessments are varied and may include:

  • Presentations
  • Essay plans
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Debates
  • Reflective exercise
  • Information literacy exercises

Summative assessments are varied and include:

  • Poster presentations
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Essays
  • Exams, seen and unseen
  • Reports
  • Written assignments
  • Compilation of key concepts
  • Project
  • Critical review
  • In-class tests
  • Dissertation 

Students who graduate with this degree will have knowledge and understanding of crime, its background and consequences, and an understanding of theories about criminality. Capacities for imaginative, rigorous and critical thinking will be developed through the course of study. Subject specific skills, such as the knowledge of the social process of crime and the criminal justice system, and the ability to understand a variety of types of evidence, are complemented by skills of wide applicability beyond the degree, including IT skills, research and problem solving, communication, and working as part of a team.

Graduates who study criminology will find the subject a useful grounding for entry to a range of careers where the understanding and contextualisation of crime is regarded as valuable. Some graduates use the study of criminology as a stepping stone to undertake formal legal training and education. Others may choose alternative career pathways, based on the organisational and communication skills, and analytical abilities, acquired through the study of criminology. 

The University of Chester is committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity both as an employer and an educational institution. For this purpose it has an Equal Opportunities Policy and appropriate codes of practice to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The Policy covers discrimination in relation to the protected characteristics of disability, age, race, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marriage and civil partnership and gender reassignment. The policy relates to all aspects of employment, academic and student experience. It is implemented by heads of department reporting to a designated member of the Senior Management Team. Support is provided by the Director of HRM in consultation with bodies such as the Equality Forum.

The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the University of Chester have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate unlawful or unfair discrimination.

The objective of the policy is to have a University which is open to all sections of the community, where people from all groups in society are represented at all levels, and in whose activities all members of staff and all its students can participate fully and equally for the benefit of the University of Chester.

The Department of Social and Political Science in the Faculty of Social Science is acknowledged as ‘a central focus for the provision of social science within the University'. The Criminology Programme combines particularly well with all other programmes offered within the Department of Social and Political Science, including Criminology, Counselling Skills, Politics and International Relations. It combines equally well with a large range of other programmes across the Faculty of Social Science, and also the University more broadly, including, for example, Education Studies, English Literature, English Language, International Development Studies, French, Spanish, and many others.

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