The dissertation unit will utilise and develop research skills and demonstrate original application of knowledge through critical academic exploration of a chosen topic with guidance and supervision. The unit encourages the development of autonomous learning, requiring a commitment to study, initiative, confidence, perseverance, self motivation and organisation in deploying knowledge, concepts and skills acquired throughout the degree. The topics of study will range from library research, historical/archival research through to action research and evaluative projects involving qualitative and/or quantitative methods. Students will work closely with supervisors in the development of research skills and meeting the demands of a sustained project including organisation, writing up and editing.
This unit provides advanced research methods training and as such covers the key dimensions of qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as the appropriate elements of the philosophy of social science. The unit includes a core focus on the practical challenges of delivering research.
Core methodological issues include the following:
- Ontology, epistemology and sociology
- Formulating research questions
- Research design
- Interpretive techniques
- Confirmatory techniques
- Primary and secondary data analysis
- Multiple research strategies
- Ethical considerations
- Conceptual and empirical problems
Likely Optional Units
Utilising a case study approach, this unit explores the role of research in influencing policy and practice as well as building academic knowledge. It introduces students to a range of contemporary criminological debates incorporating theoretical, empirical, methodological and substantive concerns within criminology while exploring the process and impact of researching in such areas. Potential examples include: youth gangs and joint enterprise, responding to the impact of new psychoactive substances and drug markets in custodial and community settings, psychosocial criminology and organised crime.
Justice is a debated term within criminology. Students will critique the concept of justice and what it might mean for different parts of the criminal justice system, as well as for offenders, victims and the public. Students will reflect on how social, legal, moral and economic debates shape our understanding of justice and how it should be delivered. This includes trust and legitimacy in the criminal justice system. The role of particular areas of the criminal justice system such as probation will be highlighted.
Students undertake a project-based placement with an organisation operating in an area relevant to criminology. Students evaluate the work of the organisation taking theory/research into account and critically reflect on their own experience. Placements organised by programme team (though students can organise their own, subject to approval by unit leader) and overseen by a link member of staff. Unit earns academic credits only.
This unit will provide an understanding of how criminal justice policy is formulated, implemented and evaluated. This includes an understanding of the social, economic and political processes that are involved in shaping policy. The role of evidence-based policy in public policy-making is considered, including the use of evidence reviews and evaluation in the policy-making
process. In addition, the unit will reflect on how policy is supported and challenged by stakeholders, such as political parties, pressure groups and the media.
The criminal justice system encompasses both statutory and non-statutory organisations. Current and former practitioners working in the criminal justice sector, including the state, charities and private organisations, will be involved in the delivery of this unit. Example areas for inclusion are the police, the courts, prisons, probation and youth justice. The unit will explore key
principles, values and issues relevant to work within this sector and involve discussion about it can operate most effectively.
Criminological theory explains crime, deviance and victimisation. This unit will incorporate an integrated approach to understanding why people breach the law and adhere to the law. It will combine key contemporary criminological theory that draws from a range of disciplines, such as psychology, economics, sociology and cultural studies.