Criminal Justice MA

Study level: Postgraduate
Lady Justice statue holding weighing scales

This interdisciplinary and practical course provides you with the opportunity to develop an advanced level understanding of the inter-relationship between law, justice and punishment.

Year of entry



Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



1 year full-time
2 years part-time
16-24 months (with professional experience)

Course code


Start date

September 2024
January 2025
May 2025

Course overview

Over the course of the programme you will be given the chance to develop social and cultural knowledge and research skills that are relevant to an increasingly global job market.

  • You will have the opportunities to understand real world debates about criminal justice, crime control and security, policing, penality and offender management
  • A key feature of this programme is its emphasis on developing practice-relevant skills in relation to enhanced subject knowledge
  • There is a strong emphasis on understanding criminal justice as a social complex where the personal, local, national and global collide.
Hand selecting a user icon in a coloured circle.

Joint Top Modern University for Career Prospects

Guardian University Guide 2021 and 2022

Five stars in a speech bubble.

5 QS Stars for Teaching and Facilities

QS Stars University Ratings

City buildings next to a tree.

Top 10 UK Student City (Coventry)

QS Best Student Cities Index 2024

Why you should study this course

  • A multicultural and international approach: The syllabus addresses both current problems of crime and disorder facing diverse local communities, and concerns about transnational criminality and law enforcement.
  • Research-focused learning: You will be encouraged to view yourself as a social researcher in training and apply this in an individual final project.
  • A creative policy-focused programme: As part of the course you will develop proposals for policy and practice thereby providing opportunities for the acquisition of key leadership and strategic skills.
  • Innovation and digital fluency: Material concerning digital and communication technologies in law enforcement and criminal justice will provide opportunities for you to develop digital literacy and ICT skills.
  • The applied nature of the course makes it suitable for individuals working in relevant sectors who are seeking career and professional development.
  • The opportunity to undertake a professional experience option, see the 'What you'll study' section for more information.

What you'll study

The course comprises a suite of interconnected modules that explore a range of contemporary issues in the context of theories and research concerning law, crime and criminal justice.


  • This module provides an opportunity to critically engage with academic, practitioner, policy and media discourses of policing and law enforcement. You will explore established and emergent debates and the recusant challenges to contemporary orthodoxies in these overlapping areas of policy, research and practice. An overarching theme will be the connections between local, national and global institutions, networks and processes involved in the investigation, prosecution and prevention of crime.


  • This module seeks to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding contemporary international terrorism. This specifically includes its different causes and rationales, the relationship that it has to other forms of violence and social protest, the ethical and practical dilemmas surrounding terrorism, and the response of states and international organisations to international terrorism.


  • This module seeks to provide you with a critical understanding of the issues surrounding trafficking in human beings. This specifically includes an understanding of the definition of trafficking in human beings and that trafficking is a process that can occur over a period of time. It will examine the phenomenon of trafficking putting it into a modern context and outline the problems, both within the UK and internationally, it will also consider differences and inter-relationships with people smuggling.


  • This module will open up the world of social research to you through engagement with the work of active social researchers in the university. You will interrogate examples of research practice to unpack the process by which ideas and propositions become concepts and theories that are operationalised in empirical research. Through presentations on work in progress, published literature and stories about researchers' experiences in the field, you will be given an opportunity to learn how research is initiated, commissioned, designed, planned, resourced, undertaken, delivered and received.


  • Through a series of interactive workshops, you will acquire a methodological toolkit, to enable you to become skilled social researchers. The module will provide you with the theoretical, conceptual, investigative, and practical tools you need to apply in your own independent research, including a final research project.


  • Practitioners in fields such as health and social care, social work, education, policing and criminal justice are familiar with the increasing demand for an evidence base to support strategic and operational goals and practice. Evaluation research has grown in importance for its role in meeting this demand. You will critically assess the impact of evaluation and evidence-based practice in key areas of social and public policy.


  • What does community mean in complex, globalised societies? This module interrogates ideas of community and how these are pursued, realised and contested in social, spatial, political and cultural contexts. A key area of debate is the role of the charitable and voluntary sector in connecting individuals and groups as participants and stakeholders in activities, networks and partnerships. You will have the opportunity to explore this in a bitesize research project or a community-based placement2.


  • This module focuses on sentencing and punishment in a global context. It examines contemporary modalities of punishment drawing on diverse theoretical frameworks to make sense of penal policies and practices in the 21st century. You will be encouraged to consider your own views, values, attitudes and positionality in relation to governmental powers to punish and public appetites and demands for punishment in contemporary societies.


  • The culmination of the course is a final research project in a chosen subject area. You may select a topic that is neoteric or disruptive in their discipline, has intrigued them from another part of their learning on the course, that aligns with a professional role or career aspirations or that might simply be an area of interest ready to be turned into a passion project. You will be lead producers in the design and delivery of your project, with support from experienced staff in one-to-one supervision.


  • This module explores the changing world of work which Arts and Humanities students enter after study. New technology and the changing global economy mean that jobs and skills are changing and evolving quickly and will continue to do so. This is an exciting and new world, and this module is designed to empower you to realise your potential in it.

    This module provides tools for you to develop into changemakers, thrive in a changing world of work and participate in creating a better future for society. You’ll be guided through a process of reflection that explores four possible futures for the world of work and how to situate your own professional identity as the future of work changes through your careers. This module is designed in collaboration with The RSA (Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), and upon successful completion students will receive RSA digital badging.


With professional experience option

The professional experience opportunity2 enables you to apply for optional professional experience in semester 1, which, upon successfully securing an opportunity, will extend the duration of your master’s to either 16, 20 or 24 months. The professional experience provides an opportunity for you to develop expertise and experience in your chosen field with the aim of enhancing your employability.

Please note that the optional professional experience modules incur an additional tuition fee, which for 1 semester of professional experience is £1,333.33, for 2 semesters of professional experience is £2,666.67, and for 3 semesters of professional experience is £4,000.

Professional experience may also be subject to additional costs, visa requirements being met, subject to availability and/or competitive application. Professional experience opportunities are not guaranteed but you will benefit from the support of our Talent Team in trying to find and secure an opportunity. Find out more about the professional experience option.

We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

The course aspires to create a flexible and personalised learning journey which will take advantage of opportunities for hybrid delivery. Teaching and learning methods will include campus-based and online lectures, seminars, workshops and one to one supervision on student projects.

There will also be opportunities for experiential learning and for group and collaborative work as well as self-directed study and supervised research. Digital technologies will be used to innovate course delivery such as using immersive learning technologies and virtual teaching spaces.

This course can be offered on a part-time basis. Whilst we would like to give you all the information about our part-time offering here, it is tailored for each course each year depending on the number of part-time applicants. Therefore, the part-time teaching arrangements vary. Request further information about part-time study.

Teaching contact hours

The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 10 contact hours per week in the first semester.

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 35 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.

The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online classes and tutorials.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


The course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module.

Assessment methods include:

  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Projects
  • Coursework
  • Individual Assignments
  • Roadmaps

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy aims to ensure that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a good undergraduate degree (2:2), in a social science or humanities-related subject, or equivalent international grade/qualification (including degrees in other subjects), from a recognised university.

Students with any disability, illness or other circumstance which may affect their learning experience are actively encouraged to discuss any concerns with academic staff.

We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

Chat with us

Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:

You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.

Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall, with at least 5.5 in each component area

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course. 

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

Chat with us

Fees and funding

2024/25 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,350 | £13,350 (with professional experience) per year Request fee information
EU £9,350 | £13,350 (with professional experience) per year with EU support bursary**
£16,700 | £20,700 (with professional experience) per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £16,700 | £20,700 (with professional experience) per year Not available

For advice and guidance on tuition fees3 and student loans visit our Postgraduate Finance page.

We offer a range of international scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees3 cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.


You will benefit from studying on our well-equipped, modern campus4.

Delia Derbyshire building

Delia Derbyshire Building

The Delia Derbyshire complex offers more space to learn, design and make, including a hyper-studio for students across all disciplines to collaborate on projects together, a gallery space and an events atrium.

A lawyer stands in a court room, with people behind we assume make up the jury, and two judges to his left

Routes into a Legal Career

Find out more about how Coventry University can kick start your legal career through our preparation courses.

mock prison cells

Prison cells

Two prison cells, one single and one double, are used to give a sense of the real-life experiences of inmates, and for role play learning. Have a look round our mock prison cell on our virtual 360 tour.


Careers and opportunities

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • demonstrate advanced knowledge and critical understanding of established and current interdisciplinary debates in criminal justice
  • situate criminal justice problems and questions within diverse social, cultural and political contexts at local, national, transnational and global levels
  • apply criminological knowledge in an original and systematic manner, evincing a practical understanding of advanced research methodologies
  • systematically analyse complex criminological and penological problems and expound them effectively in robust, reflective, evidence-based research and scholarship
  • proactively select appropriate strategies to communicate findings and outcomes of research and study verbally, visually, digitally and discursively to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • apply transferable skills of initiative, ethical responsibility, autonomy and self-efficacy to a range of employment and practice environments.

The course is intended for students who are looking to progress from undergraduate study in this subject (or a related discipline in humanities, social or political sciences) and for practitioners working in criminal justice and associated sectors seeking opportunities for career and professional development. This MA also readies you for the wider world of work in a culturally diverse global marketplace; highly transferable and timely skills enable graduates to capitalise on a job market increasingly defined by flexibility.

We’re committed to preparing you for your future career and giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market. The university's dedicated careers and employability support, Talent Team, provide a wide range of support services to help you plan and prepare for your career.

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2024/2025 contract is available on the website. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

You may also like