Course overview

Studying BSc (Hons) Criminology at Aston University will develop your understanding of crime and the criminal justice system with a focus on social inequality, harm and deviance. This critical criminology programme emphasises employability and digital skills, equipping you with the tools to analyse crime in the context of societal changes.

You will explore key criminological theories, research methods and contemporary issues such as policing, punishment and victimology. Our research-active staff, experts in their fields, ensure that your learning is informed by the latest research.

The integrated placement year bridges theory and practice, providing you with invaluable real-world experience in the UK or abroad. This hands-on experience enhances your skills and prepares you for a range of professional roles within the criminal justice system and beyond.

Dr Graeme Hayes

"Studying Criminology at Aston University will enable you to understand crime in its real-world social context, studying the relationship between crime – what it is, who does it, how it is punished – and wider social forces, inequalities and power. Along the way, you will learn key data and analytical skills for your next career step."

Dr Graeme Hayes
BSc (Hons) Criminology
Reader and Head of Department

Why Criminology at Aston University?

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Gold standard teaching
Aston University was awarded Gold - the highest possible rating for the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2023)
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Safe in our hands
Ranked top 5 in the UK for 'graduate prospects - on track' (Sociology; Complete University Guide, 2025)
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Our academics are clear
100% of students felt that teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things (Sociology; National Student Survey, 2023)
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Excellent prospects
Aston University was named runner-up in the University of the Year for Graduate Employment Award (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024)
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Earn more
Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, earning on average £36,100 five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2023)
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Here for you
100% of students said it was easy or very easy to contact teaching staff when they needed to (Sociology; National Student Survey, 2023)

Course description

BSc (Hons) Criminology

Our BSc (Hons) Criminology degree at Aston University explores crime, justice and social inequality, emphasising critical analysis, employability and digital skills for addressing contemporary societal issues.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK’s second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you. You will benefit from applied learning, research-informed teaching and authentic assessment. As a student on this programme, you will be one of the first to know about advancements in topical research by staff across the department, even before it is published.

We are also an Adobe Creative Campus meaning you will have access to top-notch software licenses, including Adobe and Solidworks, commonly used in industry.

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies – understanding that intelligence and success come from applying yourself, a willingness to learn and an ambition and drive to excel. 

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What skills we teach
You will develop critical thinking, analytical and research skills, along with a deep understanding of social inequality, crime and justice. Our graduates are equipped to conduct independent research and communicate effectively, preparing them for impactful careers in criminology and beyond.

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Placement year
We all know that taking a placement year will boost your employability – it’s what makes Aston University graduates some of the most employable in the country. It’s for this reason that we encourage every student to take one. The placement year gives you the chance to put theory into practice, gain relevant work experience, and develop professional and transferable skills.

The placement year is compulsory for BSc (Hons) Criminology students. International students can request permission to opt out of the placement year, but we strongly recommend that it is completed where possible.

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Career prospects
As an Aston University Criminology graduate, you will be equipped for a range of career options. Potential employers include the Home Office, local councils and various non-profits, with possible roles such as probation officer, prison officer, social worker and community development worker.

How you will learn

Our BSc (Hons) Criminology programme is designed to offer a dynamic and engaging learning experience, preparing you for a successful career in criminology and related fields. The teaching approach combines academic rigor with practical application, ensuring that you not only understand criminological theories and concepts but also develop critical thinking, analytical and research skills that are highly valued in today's society.

You will participate in interactive lectures, small group seminars and practical workshops led by experienced academic staff, encouraging lively discussions and exploration of diverse perspectives. The curriculum includes applied modules, study trips and a compulsory placement year, providing hands-on experience and enabling you to explore contemporary issues such as social inequality, crime and justice.

At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who will offer individual study advice and guidance. You will also benefit from access to the University Library's extensive collection of books and electronic journals, supporting your studies and research. This comprehensive educational experience will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to address the complexities of crime and justice in a rapidly changing world.

What you will learn

Driven by the needs of society and future employers, our BSc (Hons) Criminology course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of key criminological theories and concepts and the ability to critically analyse these, alongside the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest you.

First year

In your first year, you will grasp foundational principles and concepts in criminology, including key theoretical and ethical issues. You will explore various perspectives on crime, criminal justice and social inequalities. Modules will introduce you to social theory, research methods, and contemporary issues in crime and criminal justice.

Second year

Building on the fundamentals, you will deepen your knowledge with more complex theories and concepts. You will learn to critically assess different research methodologies and analyse large datasets. You will explore advanced topics such as victimology, theories of crime, and the functioning of criminal justice institutions like prisons and policing.

Placement year

The compulsory placement year allows you to apply your theoretical knowledge in real-world settings, gaining invaluable experience and professional skills. You will have the opportunity to work in various sectors, enhancing your employability and practical understanding of criminology.

Katie Yang International Relations and Sociology student

A placement with impact

Katie completed her placement year at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as a social researcher.

She said: "It was a privilege being able to conduct social research within a government setting and having the ability to influence future policies directly through my work."

Final year

In your final year, you will undertake a research dissertation on a criminological topic of your choice, demonstrating your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods. You can also specialise in topics you enjoy most by choosing from a range of optional modules, such as corporate crime, environmental harms and emerging technologies.

Course objectives

  1. Develops your familiarity with key concepts in criminological theory and their historical development.
  2. Develops your ability to analyse and understand crime within the context of social problems and social and technological change.
  3. Gives you a critical understanding of criminal justice agencies, institutions and responses to crime.
  4. Provides you with a critical understanding of the relationships between power, harm, deviance and crime.
  5. Develops your applied understanding of research methods and analytic techniques, and your capacity to conduct independent empirical research related to core criminological themes.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

In your first year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Introduction to Social Theory30
Becoming a Social Scientist30
Identities and Inequalities I15
Identities and Inequalities II15
What’s Trending: Contemporary issues in Crime and Criminal Justice30
Total120

Year 1 outcomes

On successful completion of the first year, you will be able to:

  • Think critically and develop lines of argument and analysis in accordance with foundational sociological and criminological theories and concepts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of research design, and qualitative and quantitative research methods, and associated questions and problems of knowledge.
  • Identify and summarise key perspectives on crime and criminal justice in social context, and discuss the relative contributions and limitations of these perspectives.
  • Communicate accurately, effectively, and appropriately, presenting structured and coherent arguments, demonstrating awareness of professional norms.
  • Demonstrate a range of transferrable academic skills, including an ability to reflect on own learning and development, to engage effectively with feedback, and to work effectively and collaboratively with peers.

Year 2 modules

In your second year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Research Methods15
Advanced Research Methods15
Theories of Crime15
Prisons, Policing and Punishment15
Victimology15
Total75

You will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Media and Society15
Racisms15
Embodiment and Feminist Theory15

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Digital Methods for Social Science and Humanities15
Global Society15
Welfare States15

*Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Year 2 outcomes

On successful completion of the second year, you will be able to:

  • Analyse the main methods of enquiry in criminology as an academic discipline and critically evaluate the function of key agencies and institutions in criminal justice.
  • Demonstrate awareness of social diversity and social inequality, and their relationship to crime, harm, deviance and victimisation.
  • Identify the key perspectives in contemporary criminal theory and understand the relative contributions and limitations of each.
  • Synthesise, explain and evaluate different concepts, theories and evidence to form compelling arguments.
  • Critically evaluate different relevant methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative methods and apply knowledge to analyse large datasets and carry out original research.

Placement year modules

You will spend your third year on placement. You will be fully supported throughout the process by our award-winning Careers and Placements team.

Placement year

Module TitleCredits
Integrated Placement Year120

Placement year outcomes

On successful completion of the placement year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate increasing personal and professional development through a placement.
  • Articulate key personal, cultural, professional and disciplinary knowledge and skills relevant to the placement experience and reflect on performance.
  • Communicate clearly the ways in which placement-related skills can be transferred to support ongoing personal, professional and academic development.

Final year modules

In your final year you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
Dissertation (Criminology)30

You will choose four of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Corporate Crime15
Ecocide: Environmental Harms and Social Justice15
Migration, Borders and Detention15
Protest, Power and the State15
Fraud, Bribery and Corruption15
Ethics in a Crisis15
Emerging Technologies: AI and Law15

You will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Work, Organisations and Society15
Bodies, Power and Resistance15
Elites15
Pregnancy and Politics15
Education for the 21st Century15
Religion and Society15
Health and Society15

*Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Final year outcomes

On successful completion of the final year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the relationships between social context, social inequalities and crime, harm, deviance and victimisation.
  • Create and present sustained arguments backed up with evidence that reflects detailed conceptual understanding of criminology as an academic discipline.
  • Design, undertake and report independent criminology-based research in specific social and technological context, demonstrating advanced understanding of theory, methods and ethical considerations.
  • Apply a range of high-level communication and digital skills demonstrating the capacity to make coherent and persuasive arguments to different audiences.

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.


Entry requirements

  • A Levels

    BBC (standard offer)
    BCC (with EPQ or Core Maths minimum grade B)
    BCC (contextual offer)

  • Contextual offers

    Aston Ready is our contextual offer scheme that could reduce your undergraduate offer by one or two grades. Assessed at the point of application, there are no additional forms to fill in.

Contextual offer criteria

BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM (standard offer)

The University also accepts the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate/BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma and BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/BTEC Level 3 Diploma for entry onto degree programmes, provided that they are studied in combination with other qualifications that are equivalent to three full A2 Levels.

29 points overall in the IB diploma with grades 5,5,4 in 3 higher level subjects.

You must also have Standard Level grade 4 in Mathematics and grade 5 in English Language.

We accept the QAA-recognised Access Diploma which must consist of 45 credits at Level 3.

You must obtain a minimum of 30 distinction and the rest must be at merit or distinction.

Please note that we do not accept the English and Maths components within the Access qualification and you must meet the GCSE entry requirement.

The following T Levels are accepted qualifications for this course:

  • Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Production, Design and Production - grade D
  • Education and Childcare - grade D
  • Onsite Construction - grade D
  • Building Services Engineering for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Business Services - grade D
  • Digital Support Services - grade D
  • Health - grade D
  • Healthcare Science - grade D
  • Science - grade D
  • Accounting - grade D
  • Finance - grade D
  • Management and administration - grade D
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing - grade D 
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing - grade D
  • Legal Services - grade D 

GCSE Maths – grade C/4

GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4

Year 1 entry: We may consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a first year degree elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 2 entry: Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up to the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have successfully passed (or be expected to pass) your first year with 120 credits on an equivalent programme at another recognised university with very similar module content. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 3 entry onwards: We will not be able to consider any application for Year 3 or final year. 

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.

Qualifications in your country

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

International students can enter at Year 2 of this course having completed an undergraduate year one programme at the required academic level with approved teaching partners ONCAMPUS Aston or NCUK.

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£9,250
During placement year:£1,250

International students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£18,250
During placement year:£2,500

More information on fees

For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy.

For International students: The International students fee is a fixed annual fee for the duration of the Programme, except whilst on placement when a placement year fee applies.

Scholarships

At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs.

Explore our scholarships 

Assessment

You will be assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments. Special emphasis will be placed on authentic assessment.

Career prospects

Our BSc (Hons) Criminology programme will prepare you for diverse career opportunities across the public, private and third sectors. Some potential roles include:

  • Community development worker
  • Prison officer
  • Probation officer
  • Social worker
  • Crime analyst
  • Policy advisor
  • Research officer
  • Youth justice worker

Graduates may secure positions at organisations like the Home Office, local councils, non-profits or private sector firms, contributing to sectors such as criminal justice, social services, policymaking and community development, making a tangible impact in their chosen fields.

L'myah Sherae - Politics and Sociology graduate

"One of the best decisions I made"

L’myah Sherae completed her placement year at the Houses of Parliament and now runs her own political campaigns company.

She added: "Not only is every day really dynamic and different but also we have a real impact on people’s day-to-day lives"

Our students achieve some amazing things during their time with us and after they graduate - whether it's setting up their own businesses, landing competitive graduate schemes, or making real differences within their communities.

Hear from our graduates

Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently asked questions

Why study Criminology at Aston University?

Aston University offers an academically rigourous and practically relevant BSc (Hons) Criminology programme. Our curriculum cultivates critical thinking, research proficiency and analytical skills essential for careers in criminal justice, policy-making and community development.

Ranked joint 24th globally for Sustainable Development Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) by Times Higher Education, Aston University champions social justice and global equity, ensuring your education addresses pressing societal issues with integrity and impact. Our Triple Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework signifies our commitment to delivering exceptional education that meets the needs of today's students.

We’re proud to be named University of the Year Runner Up for Graduate Employment by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024, underscoring our dedication to preparing graduates for successful careers. We were also ranked second in England for social mobility, reflecting our commitment to providing access, support and positive outcomes for all students.

How will a placement year benefit me?

Whether you choose to study abroad or do a work placement, Aston University’s links with employers and universities around the world mean you will have a wide range of options to boost your employability and explore the world of work.

Our work placements give you the opportunity to apply what you have learnt on your course while gaining valuable professional and paid experience. It can enhance your graduate employment prospects and help you to make more informed career decisions. Around one in five of our placement students are offered graduate jobs by their placement employer.

Find out more

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

 

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