MA Applied Criminology

Real world criminology: in research, and in understanding and responding to crime

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Our masters programme in Applied Criminology has been developed to offer real world knowledge and experience, offering students the opportunity to consider criminology in practice, both in the areas of criminal justice and applied research.

Our staff team include former justice practitioners and researchers at the cutting edge of research and evaluation in areas such as youth justice, drugs and criminal justice policy. The experience and contacts this brings has given us the opportunity to develop a vibrant, applied curriculum including options of study in criminal justice policy, practice and theory, as well as the option of undertaking a placement in a relevant organisation. Students will also cover research methods and carry out their own research.

We have devised the programme to suit people working in, or wishing to work in criminal justice and related areas, as well as those looking for an academic career; there is no requirement that students should have previously studied criminology.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is offering scholarships worth £2,000 for graduates with a first class honours or upper second class degree. Excellence scholarships are available to full-time home and EU students for 20/21 entry. Find out more on our postgraduate funding pages.

Features and Benefits

  • An accessible masters degree - suitable whatever your previous area of study.
  • Study in Manchester - one of the world's most popular student cities.
  • No exams - finish your degree without taking pressurised exams. Assessment is 100% coursework. 
  • Teaching staff have national and international reputations within the discipline and are actively engaged in research, publication, academic enterprise as well as being involved in government consultation, policy development and evaluation. This feeds into teaching and, as a result, you can expect to be exposed to the very latest developments and emerging knowledge in this field.
  • The degree caters for students whose aims and interests are purely academic alongside those who want to develop a more practice-related focus.
  • Close working links with youth justice, probation, policing and the prisons in the region.
  • Opportunity for a placement in, or linked to, the world of criminal justice.
  • Input from groups campaigning for justice.
  • Case studies from cutting edge research and practice.

Within the Department of Sociology we have a number of research centres:

  • PERU: Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University is a multi-disciplinary team of evaluators, economists, sociologists and criminologists. We specialise in evaluating policies, programmes and projects and advising national and local policy-makers on the development of evidence-informed policy. Currently, most work is in the areas of criminal justice, crime reduction, advice services, substance misuse and young people's services. We work for government departments including the Home Office and local delivery organisations including police forces, probation services, local authorities and the voluntary sector.
  • The Manchester Centre for Youth Studies brings together researchers from across the university to explore how the meanings, experiences and representations of youth have changed over time, while focusing on issues relevant to youth today. This includes a particular focus on Youth Justice through the Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership with youth justice services across Greater Manchester
  • The Manchester Metropolitan Crime and Well-Being Big Data Centre which brings together crime, health and multiple data to enhance understanding of the drivers of social problems and identify potential inter.
  • QSTEP: The department is one of only 15 Q-Step Centres of Excellence in Undergraduate Quantitative Methods, and the only Post-92 University to have this status. This is recognition of the department's commitment to pedagogic innovation and excellence in research methods teaching.

Recent projects:

  • MYPLACE project (€7.9m): lead partner of a 17-member international consortium in EU on youth engagement in society.
  • MYWeB project (€1.5m EU-funded, 2014-16): lead partner of a 13-member European consortium completing a feasibility study for a longitudinal study into the well-being of children and young people.
"This is a university that practices what it preaches, acting to promote inclusion and social change." Craig Fletcher, MA Criminology Graduate

"Our teaching team have a wealth of experience in criminal justice, in impactful real world research and evaluation, and in informing policy. Whether you’ve studied criminology before or not, we’ve plenty to share with you."

Graham Smyth, Senior Lecturer

Career Prospects

This course aims to equip you with the skills to progress to higher research programmes, and/or to expand and enhance your career opportunities and professional practice within criminal justice and related agencies and organisations. While the degree is discipline-specific, successful completion provides evidence of high standards in a range of transferable skills that may be relevant in non-related career settings, for example, information retrieval, summarising complex material, producing high quality reports, initiating and developing projects.

Previous graduates have pursued careers in the police and in teaching, along with graduates who have gone on to study PhD's within the field of Criminology.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

You will normally have a 2:2 UK undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent) in criminology or a related field, or a postgraduate diploma, or a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an honours degree. It is recognised that non-standard applicants may be well-equipped to successfully complete Masters level study and applications will be assessed flexibly, while maintaining the necessary academic standards.

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

Criminology employs a multi disciplinary approach, informed by a range of different disciplines which include: applied medico-legal science, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, law, political science, history, geography. As a result of these competing viewpoints your research of criminology will be a very challenging and rewarding area of postgraduate study.

Core units:

  • Methods - advanced research methods
  • Dissertation - your own research project

Option units:

  • Theory - theoretical frameworks for understanding crime & deviance (students who have not previously studied criminology theory will normally be expected to take this unit)
  • Justice - a critical assessment of contemporary criminal justice
  • Policy - a critical exploration of the making and implementation of policy
  • Practice - explores key principles in the practical delivery of criminal justice
  • Impact - how research is constructed and carried out so as to have impact on policy/practice
  • Placement - Students undertake a project-based placement (around one day per week)  with an organisation

Read more about this year of study

Core Units


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.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Department of Sociology

Our Department of Sociology provides courses in the areas of sociology, criminology, global change and quantitative methods.

Its academic staff are actively involved in high-quality research and the department is home to the Policy and Evaluation Research Unit and Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, advising national and local policy-makers, and holding major roles in several significant national and European projects.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £8,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2667 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
The Manchester Metropolitan University is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the independent regulator of higher education in England. More information on the role of the OfS and its regulatory framework can be found at

All higher education providers registered with the OfS must have a student protection plan in place. The student protection plan sets out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. Access our current Student Protection Plan.