University of Chester

Programme Specification
Criminology BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)



University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester, Chester campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years full-time

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science


Not applicable

Social and Political Science

Friday 1st January 2010

The University of Chester has six key themes crucial to the delivery of the Mission of the University (see Learning and Teaching Strategy 2013 - 2016/7).  Within these themes there is reference made to excellence in learning and teaching, scholarship and research; the promotion of high academic quality and standards; flexibility in learning and teaching styles; widening access to higher education; employer collaboration and the promotion of personal development.  Guided by these overarching themes the criminology programme aims to:

  • Provide students with an understanding of the discipline of criminology set within the broader context of the social sciences. 
  • Create a learning environment that is receptive to student needs and encourages them to achieve their full potential by providing students with flexible and varied teaching, learning and assessment strategies in order to ensure that all students have as equal an opportunity as possible to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to graduate in criminology.
  • Provide students with a range of skills and knowledge which would make them suitable candidates for employment in a wide range of occupations or for postgraduate study. 
  • Provide exposure to a range of key concepts and theoretical approaches in criminology.
  • Provide students with a range of methodological skills and acquaint them with some of the issues to which these methods have been applied in criminology.
  • Provide students with a progressive learning environment, moving from a broad understanding of criminological approaches and methods in level four through to a more focused consideration of concepts, methods, theoretical frameworks and sub-disciplines in the area of criminology at level five to a detailed consideration of the application of criminology at level six.

Subject knowledge and understanding

The programme provides students with opportunities to develop and demonstrate subject knowledge and understanding across the three levels of study.
In line with the 2014 QAA Criminology benchmark statement, the programme learning outcomes are:
1. To identify and apply the major theories which are deployed throughout the social sciences to understandings of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
2. To identify and applykey concepts andtheoretical understandings of crime to demonstrate an understanding of the social and personal context of all aspects of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
3. To distinguish between and evaluate different social science research methods and assess their applicability for the purposes of research design in criminology.
4. To understand and critically evaluate the principles of human rights and civil liberties in the governance of crime and crime control,
5. To recognise and analyse social divisions and social diversity in relation to criminological topics.
6. To apply critical reflection to the ways in which crime and victimisation are constructed in the media.
7. To recognise and evaluate comparative understandings of local, national and international contexts of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Thinking or cognitive skillsare acquired in a range of teaching and learning situations across the programmeand are developed on an incremental basis as the student progresses through the programme. These skills are embedded into module aims, learning outcomes and assessment across the levels, a teaching and learning strategy based on constructive alignment(Biggs, 1999).
Students will be able to become competent in:

  • generating and evaluating evidence.
  • appreciating the complexity and diversity of the ways in which crime is constituted, represented and dealt with.
  • assessing the merits of competing theories relevant to crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
  • assessing the merits and diversity of objectives of competing responses to crime and deviance, including the protection of human rights.
  • gathering, retrieving and synthesising data and information.
  • making ethical judgments about published research.
  • making reasoned arguments.
  • interpreting quantitative and qualitative evidence and texts.
  • developing the ability to reflect in critical and constructive ways on their own learning.
Biggs, J. (1999), Teaching for quality learning at university, Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
Discipline-specific abilities/skills

Discipline-specific abilities/skills will be developed across the programme in a variety of teaching and learning contexts andin many cases are made explicit inthe design and intention of modular aims. These skills are developed on an incremental basis as the student progresses through the programme. Again, these abilities/skillsare embedded inmodule aims, learning outcomes and assessment across the levelsand in line with a learning and teaching strategy based on constructive alignment (Biggs, 1999).
Students will be able to develop:
  • the ability to identify criminological problems, formulate questions and investigate them.
  • competence in using criminological theory and concepts to understand crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance.
  • competence in using criminological theory to elucidate representations of crime, victimisation, and responses to these, as presented in the mass media and official reports.
  • competence in explaining complex social problems in terms of criminological theory.
  • the capacity to analyse, assess and communicate empirical information about crime, victimisation, responses to crime and deviance, and representations of crime.
  • the ability to identify human rights issues in responses to crime and deviance.
  • the ability to recognise a range of ethical problems associated with research and to take action in accordance with the guidelines of ethical practice developed by the BSC and cognate professional bodies.
  • the ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems.
  • the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.

Key Skills (transferable professional and genericskills)
  1. Communication - both oral and written
  2. Using IT - information retrieval and technology
  3. Application of Number
  4. Working with others
  5. Improving own learning and performance
  6. Problem solving

Reference to transferable skills is made in the BSC and QAA 2014 Criminologybenchmark standards and in the Options Series for Criminology developed by They are defined as marketable qualities that are increasingly required by employers. For the purposes of this document these transferable skills will be defined as key skills in accordance with the University's adoption of the QCA guidelines.
Thus a range of key skills (translated from the QCA guidelines into the six programme learning outcomes below) to enhance employabilitywill be developed across the programme. Whilstthese skills are inherent across all three levels, they are neverthelessdevelopedprogressively.
Studentswill be able to:
  1. Demonstrate through application written and oral communication.
  2. Apply IT, information literacy and research skills through practical and project work.
  3. Present data and evidence in an appropriate format for a variety of audiences (both quantitative and qualitative).
  4. Participate effectively in group work/group related activities.
  5. Apply time planning and management and engage in reflective practice when conducting study tasks and assessments to improve own learning and performance for career development and employability.
  6. Engage in problem solving, for example, by evaluating evidence of diverse kinds and drawing appropriate conclusions.

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 framework for the Programme follows the University's academic year long structure.  The Single Honours Degree Programme structure design is based on a modular system organised across three years (levels) of study.  All students study six modules per level (120 credits). 

The modules are drawn from four programmes within the Department of Social and Political Science:

Criminology Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  • SO4304 - The Criminal Justice Process
  • SO4305 Continuities and Change
  • SO4306 Understanding Crime and Criminology

Level 5:

  • SO5301 - Theories of Crime and Justice
  • SO5302 - Diversity, Discipline and Control
  • SO5303 - State Power, Liberties and Rights
  • SO5304 - Crime, Harm and Victimisation

Level 6:

  • SO6301 - Environments of Crime
  • SO6302 - Social Aspects of Crime
  • SO6303 - Criminal Representations
  • S06304 - Penology and Punishment
  • SO6306 - Dissertation


Sociology Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  • SO4102 - Self and Society
  • SO4104 - Media, Representation and Society
  • SO4103 - Welfare Politics

Level 5:

  • SO5103 - Research Methods

Level 6:

  • SO6102 - Social Change and Social Movements

Politics Programme Modules:

Level 4:

  • SO4701 Introduction to British Politics

Level 5:

  • SO5701 Politics and Policies
  • SO5702 The Individual and the State

Level 6:

  • SO6704 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs

International Relations

  • SO4052 Comparative Politics: US and the World

Work Based Learning Programme Module:

  • WB5101 - Enhancing Your Employability through Work Based Learning

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SO4101 4 The Sociological Imagination 20 N/A
SO4102 4 Self and Society 20 Optional
SO4103 4 Welfare Politics 20 Optional
SO4104 4 Media, Representation and Society 20 Optional
SO4301 4 Deviance, Crime and Society 20 N/A
SO4303 4 Understanding Criminology 20 N/A
SO4304 4 The Criminal Justice Process 20 Comp
SO4305 4 Crime, Continuities & Change 20 Comp
SO4306 4 Understanding Crime and Criminology 40 Comp
SO4701 4 Introduction to British Politics 20 Optional
SO4703 4 Comparative Politics 20 Optional
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
SO5301 5 Theories of Crime and Justice 20 Comp
SO5302 5 Diversity, Discipline and Control 20 Comp
SO5303 5 State Power, Liberties and Rights 20 Comp
SO5304 5 Crime, Harm and Victimisation 20 Optional
SO5701 5 Politics and Policies 20 Optional
SO5702 5 The Individual and the State 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Comp
SO6102 6 Social Change and Social Movements 20 Optional
SO6301 6 Environments of Crime 20 Comp
SO6302 6 Social Aspects of Crime 20 Comp
SO6303 6 Criminal Representations 20 Comp
SO6304 6 Punishments and Penology 20 Optional
SO6306 6 Criminology Dissertation 40 Comp
SO6704 6 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs 20 Optional

Level Four
A candidate who successfully completes levelfour will have accumulated 120 academic credit points,and will be eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education*. These 120 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level Five
A candidate successfully completing levelfive will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Diploma of Higher Education*. These 240 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level Six
A candidate successfully completing levelsix will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of an honours degree* inCriminology (BSc).
(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education: The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - January 2008).

  • A minimum of 240-260 UCAS points, of which 220 points must be obtained from GCE and/or VCE A levels (12 or 6 unit awards), including a grade C in one subject.  The remaining points may be achieved from GCE and/or VCE A/AS Levels, VCE double award, or from Level 3 Key Skills certification.
  • BTEC National Diploma/Certificate: merit/distinction profile.
  • Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects.
  • European Baccalaureate: a minimum of 70%.
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points.
  • QAA recognised Access courses, Open College Units or Open University Credits.

Please note: A BTEC National Award or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.

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 (section 25) have been interpreted and translated into the seven overall programme learning outcomes listed in section 26 below.  For example, area number one as listed above (section 25) has been interpreted and translated into the first learning outcome for the programme (section 26) and so on.  And 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 (key skills). 


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 (Race, 2007).

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.

SEMINARS - will provide opportunities for more student-centred and interactive learning.  These will be organised around themes for discussion and/or designated reading with the aim of enabling students to deepen their knowledge of a particular subject and develop their ability to critically examine alternative perspectives. 

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 - 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-related 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.


Race, P. (2007), The Lecturer's Toolkit: A practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching, 3rd edn. Oxon: Routledge.

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, for example through assessment by dissertation.

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 
  • Bibliographic exercises
  • Information literacy exercises

Summative assessments are varied and may 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 degree.  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 will find the programme a useful grounding for entry to a range of criminal justice and related careers.  The police, prisons, and national offender management service are perhaps the most obvious career paths, but criminological knowledge, awareness and experience is valuable in a wide range of central and local government areas.  Some graduates use the criminology degree 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.  Graduates may find the degree a highly satisfactory basis for postgraduate study in related specialisms.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The objective of the University's Equal Opportunities policy is to promote 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.

These policies are embedded in the programme design at the outset, for example:

  • Educational aims (section 23) -  the second educational aim of the programme refers to learning and assessment strategies that will ensure that all students have as equal an opportunity as possible to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to graduate in criminology. 
  • Programme structure (section 24) - there is reference to the development of person skills necessary for working in a multi-cultural society. 
  • Programme aims (section 26) - embedded within the programme aims is the reference to recognition of social divisions and social diversity.
  • Learning and teaching (section 27) - refers to learning and teaching methods taking account of equal opportunities and inclusive practice and cites an example on applying this to the use of technology in presentations.
  • Module aims -  See for example the module descriptor for SO5302 Diversity, Discipline and Control where explicit reference is made to the consideration of issues of diversity and equality in the design of the module.

Significant contributions to the programme are made by teaching staff with a wide range of backgrounds and experience from across the Department of Social and Political Science.  This is an important contribution as it reflects the first educational aim of the programme whereby an understanding of the discipline of criminology is set within the broader context of the social sciences.  Criminology is a diverse and expansive discipline and this programme clearly has the ability to reflect this by its staffing resources.

The programme teaching team includes staff who are active consultants and who are research active. The programme has links with numerous criminal justice agencies across the North West, for example, the Cheshire Constabulary, the Crown Prosecution Service, local Youth Offending Teams and the Community Saftey Partnership Forum, Probation Services and Prisons. 

Work Based Learning offers students the opportunity to undertake a 5-week placement with an organisation at the end of the 2nd year of an undergraduate degree programme.  During the placement, students have the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to any work setting.  Students are free to arrange their own placement, or undertake one arranged by the Work Based Learning Office. The placement need not necessarily be related to a student’s academic discipline(s).  Whilst all efforts are made to match students to placements which align closely with their academic interests and /or prospective career, this is not always feasible. The number of placements available is sometimes restricted, particularly in certain specialist areas, and some students may have to complete placements in organisations or roles outside their preferred specialism.

Students also have the opportunity to join the Universities' student-led Criminology Society and to partake in the Conference module which is unique to the University of Chester.

Students can combine Criminology with a range of other programmes, including Sociology, Politics and Counselling Skills from the Department of Social and Political Science as well as other programmes both within the Faculty of Social Science, for example, Psychology and more widely, for example with Law or English.


Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel