BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • 2nd in the East of England for Social Policy (2023 Complete University Guide)
  • Learn from guest speakers, including the police and probation service
  • Try out forensic psychology, becoming a detective and more

You want to debate crime and its causes. What is your opinion on targeted policing? Do offenders have an innate criminal mind? Is restorative justice enough to repair community relations? Whatever your stance, we want to hear it. Hear the opinions of other aspiring criminologists. Dare to challenge your own beliefs. Uncover the realities of the underworld. Learn to connect the environmental and sociological trends of crime throughout history. Learn how you could influence positive social change. Together, let's explore potential solutions to reduce the crimes of today.  

You’ll understand crime at a deep level. Be inspired by internationally recognised researchers. You’ll be taught by experts with first-hand public servant experience, from the police to prisons, the probation service and victim support. We even have staff from the military! Take advantage of our contacts. Network with departments like the Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and established resettlement teams. Thinking of become a prison officer? A fraud investigator? Or what about a crime journalist? Whatever your career goals are, choose the University of Hertfordshire.

What are the facilities like? 

Outstanding. Our bright, modern Law School Building brings you a mixture of fantastic technology, well-equipped study spaces and realistic criminal justice settings. Inside you’ll find our incredible replica Crown Court, complete with judge’s bench and viewing gallery. Experience how the criminal justice system really works. 

Hertfordshire Law School has helped graduates forge successful careers for 40 years. You’ll benefit from our reputation for being forward thinking, innovative, and responsive to the world around us.

What's the course about?

You’ll study criminal justice as well as criminology. But what is the difference between the two? Criminal justice refers to established systems for dealing with crime. You’ll learn how the police and Crown Prosecution Service come together to investigate crime. You’ll explore limits of the magistrates’ courts. How a jury and judge prosecute in the crown court. The powers of the high courts to overturn a guilty verdict. It’s also about punishment - detention centres, prisons, probation, and community sentencing. Are they all needed? Is one more effective that the other? 

In criminology, you’ll look at the social, economic, and psychological side of crime. How does offending behaviour affect society? Learn victim psychology, and attitudes towards anti-social behaviour. Compare cultural perspectives on what is seen as crime or just considered deviance. You will gain a solid understanding in both fields and how they come together to thwart crime. 

At one time in history, theft was considered to be in your genes. It was in your blood to steal! In your first year, you will learn how attitudes towards crime and punishment have evolved. You’ll explore the stages of the justice system, from arrest to release. You’ll explore the schemes in place to reintegrate ex-offenders back into society. You’ll recognise its strengths. Challenge its weaknesses. We have moved on from the brutalities of hanging. But are prison sentences harsh enough?  

In your second year, you’ll specialise in an area that fascinates you. Want to know more about the psychology of crime?  Question if psychology can be used to shape how the public see criminality. Or what about the race and crime debate? Look at the evidence on media stereotyping. Explore how this could lead to an increase in criminalising minority ethnic people. There are 117 prisons in England and only 12 of those are female. Explore feminist theories on gender, victimisation, and offending.  

Work placement/ study abroad option  

Between your second and final year, you’ll have the possibility to study abroad or do a work placement for up to a year. Not only will this give you an amazing experience to talk about but will also give your CV a boost. If you’d rather go straight to your final year, that’s absolutely fine too.  

Shape your entire third year. Choose all your modules. You could explore how the media report crime events. Compare social moral panics to the official statistics. What about the ‘war on drugs’? Is there an increasing social acceptance of recreational drug use? Does this justify harsher governing? Gangs. War crimes. Rehabilitating offenders. Your discussions will be endless. Your detailed research will inform your opinions. And we want you to debate them. Choose a topic. Gather your research. Analyse your readings. Use your final year project to produce a thought-provoking study. Challenge the system. Tell us how you believe we could make a fairer society.  

Your main campus is de Havilland  

You’ll share this campus with students from business, law, sport, education, and humanities subjects. The student housing is close to our Sports Village which includes a gym, swimming pool and climbing wall. You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner in our on-campus restaurant or bar (in the newly built Enterprise Hub) on days you don’t feel like cooking. You can also use the common room to play pool, video games or just to hang out with friends.  Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.   

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6.  These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study.  Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each.      

Experiences I've had from my first year have been nothing but fantastic. The seminars and lectures are beyond engaging and really allow me to broaden my understanding and elevate my passion for the subject. Particularly the module on Understanding Crime and Deviance allows me to further my insights into questions such as how and why crime is committed.

Lisa Malinowski

BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology

Student Blogs

Leah Thomas – Studying during a pandemic

Experiences of my course

I am happy to say that I have many positive experiences here at university especially regarding my course. The University of Hertfordshire offers a lot of co-curricular activities for my course which is one of my favourite things about the University. I study criminology and criminal justice, and just recently they started a ‘becoming a detective’ co-curricular activity for the criminology students. This is just one of many opportunities they have for students to get involved in. I found this one particularly good as they got a real detective to deliver the session which I found better. The turnout was also better than expected. It was very engaging and at first it was nerve racking to get involved in the discussions and debates but once it got started, I loosened up a bit. It was also insightful as I believe it can help find out the direction I would like to go in the future regarding careers. We went through different ways you can track down witnesses when needed, the type of evidence that is admissible in court and the kind of questions one would ask victims and witnesses along with so much more. Another fun experience I’ve had on my course was a trip to an old court from the 1800s, for one of my modules. It was for my History of Crime module and we re-enacted a court case from the 1800s. I was happy with the trip since it was fun and I met new people that I didn’t even know were on my course.

University during the pandemic

I’m grateful that university life during the pandemic has not changed drastically for me. Quite a bit has changed which is inevitable due to the circumstances this year, but I can still do the things that are essential for my learning like go to the library on de Havilland. The library and most study spaces are still open which is good because I cannot work in my room. The enterprise building which is a study space and café is open but since lockdown the café closed. The library is open until 10pm, as opposed to before when it was open 24 hours, due to the pandemic. I am able to still see my peers since my learning is currently 50/50 online and in person, however I am aware of the precautions the University will be taking in December due to coronavirus, which is moving all learning online. For example, my seminars will now be online zoom classes along with lectures. The University is also allowing a period where the students can travel home for Christmas which is reassuring. I feel safer with the precautions the University has been taking regarding the pandemic and lockdown. For the in-person seminars we were required to wipe down the desks and social distance within the classroom along with wearing masks. Each room has stickers on the desk so that it is clear where we can sit in order to social distance to help stop the spread of the virus. In terms of the pandemic it hasn’t necessarily stopped me from participating in co-curricular activities and I am still enjoying my time at university.

Student Blogs

Leah - Things you should know

Things to know before coming to Herts

I cannot speak on behalf of other courses but when it came to criminology and criminal justice, I had what felt like a lot of free time. Having said that, I would heavily recommend timetabling your week. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed with the jump from A-levels and the new feeling of fending for myself completely. It was hard to handle it all but once I started to plan out my week it helped so much, and I had such an enjoyable time at university. This obviously does not mean you should plan your week or month to a tee, but it was so helpful to have an idea of what I should be doing. Of course, things come up especially when it comes to the events that are held all the time, but it helped immensely.

Student Blogs

Leah - Why I love criminology

What I love most about Criminology

If I am speaking honestly the course itself is what I love most. I have a large interest in criminology which is why I chose to study it. I love getting into debates during my seminars about race or whether the death penalty is good or not. The University of Hertfordshire certainly allows me to enjoy my course a lot more as they give us criminology students a lot of co-curricular opportunities to explore which helps narrow down what I like about criminology and criminal justice specifically. I did not know Herts offered so many opportunities for criminology students as they did before I joined; I am grateful for them. For example, an email about volunteering at a prison was sent out to the Law school which I jumped at. There was also a detective co-curricular activity which I was keen to attend. The spaces fill so quickly which shows that people really like these opportunities that are given to us.

There many more opportunities too but those are the ones that caught my eye and the ones I appreciated most. Looking back on my first year, there were nonstop opportunities given to us which I really loved. I recommend trying as many things as possible if it interests you, especially in your first year. If you end up not liking it, the upside is that you always end up meeting new people which is always fun.

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Student Blogs

Lisa - Unibuddy

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Alumni Stories

Rhiannon Ellis

Meet Rhiannon Ellis, the current President of the Hertfordshire Students' Union who is looking toward a career in the police force.

Read more stories BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology
Current job roleHertfordshire Students' Union President
Year of graduation2021
Course of study

BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology

Rhiannon Ellis

Rhiannon admits to having a deep seated interest in the law but never felt that being a lawyer was where her heart lay. Her main focus was on the criminal justice system and why people commit crimes rather than being in a court room.

It is an area she is keen to explore and seemingly a world away from her current role as the Students’ Union President at Herts but when her term in office finishes in 2022 she is planning on joining the police force and aims to become a detective.

Study at Herts

Rhiannon didn’t start her studies as a Herts student but a chance visit had a great impact on her. She says, ‘I was actually studying at another University, but I had a couple of friends at Hertfordshire. I came to visit and I fell in love with the campus.

When I knew I wanted to transfer I attended an applicant open day in the Law School and I really enjoyed getting to sit in the mock law court building. All the staff where so friendly and informative and I just felt really at home from the minute I came here.’

Flexibility of modules

Rhiannon really enjoyed the course and studying in the Hertfordshire Law School. The flexibility involved was one of the key reasons and she says, ‘I got to choose what modules I was interested in for second and third year which gave me the flexibility to shape my degree around future job goals.

And in terms of the role she currently has and how the course helped her she adds, ‘My degree has helped by giving me background knowledge into wider issues such as gender-based violence which is something I have been focusing on tackling through our #NeverOk campaign within the SU. It also helped develop my time management and prioritising skills which are vital in this and many roles.’

Herts memories

When it comes to a favourite memory of her time at Herts Rhiannon points to a few in particular that stand out. ‘I met my two best friends on my first day in one of my seminars as we didn’t know anyone, and we ended up being sat on the same table together. Winning Overall Student of the Year and becoming President of the SU were also pretty big highlights!’

The future

And thinking about the future and her next steps Rhiannon says, ‘I am currently applying to become a detective once my role as President ends, so fingers crossed this ends up happening!'

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Alumni Stories

Chelsie Osborne

Meet Chelsie. Chelsie is using what she learnt on her course to help young people turn their lives around.

Read more stories BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology
Current job roleYouth Violence Caseworker
Year of graduation2021
Course of studyBA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology
Chelsie Osborne at graduation

Making an impact

Chelsie was interested in how crime impacts society and why people commit crime - she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the criminal justice system. Herts had the right course for her, BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology, and the campus was easy to travel to from home. As Chelsie says, ‘The course looked at the different aspects of crime and the reasons behind it. We considered people's different characteristics, such as their age or gender. I also enjoyed learning about victimology and the impact of crime too.’

‘In my role as a Youth Violence Caseworker in an A&E department, I use what I learnt on the course to better understand the different factors that lead people to commit crime. This means I can help young people more effectively by having meaningful discussions with them about their life choices, reasons for their actions, and the potential consequences of them. I know I am making a big difference and it’s great to be able to help young people make positive lifestyle changes, whether that’s with their education, employment, or housing.’

Chelsie wants to continue developing in her career and has ambitions to support the rehabilitation of offenders. She says, ‘I want to be part of shaping what rehabilitation in prisons looks like, as I don’t feel we are doing enough to help people with a custodial sentence make positive changes to their lives. Currently, we approach it as if ‘one size fits all’, but I believe this type of support should be more holistic.’

Her advice

One of Chelsie’s favourite experiences at Herts was Freshers’ Week and other events held on campus during her studies. Whilst she encourages current and future students to work hard, she adds, ‘Don’t forget to have fun along the way. University is what you make of it, so take the opportunities you get and make great memories.’