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Youth Justice (PGDip)

PgDip|Postgraduate Taught

Youth Justice

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
2 years (Part Time)
Places available
20 (Full Time)
20 (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    Designed for those who want to advance their understanding of youth issues, youth offending and social and criminal justice responses to young people, this postgraduate diploma focuses on developing critical analytical skills and enhancing the ability to assess policy and practice against international standards and benchmarks.

    Targeted at practitioners, policy-makers and those interested in further academic study, it provides the opportunity to apply academic knowledge and critical analytical skills to practice and enhance understanding of young people's lives, the criminal justice system and the discourse of children's rights.

    Given increased policy attention in the area of youth justice and strategies impacting on children and young people more generally, the programme reflects the concern to understand the needs and rights of children and young people and ground responses in evidence, best practice and international standards.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 29 July 2022 at 4pm.

    Youth Justice highlights

    Criminology at Queen’s is internationally recognised for its research contributions and teaching excellence.

    Industry Links

    • We have extensive links with local and international NGOs and can provide some opportunities for students to undertake relevant research. This may be of particular interest if you want to gain experience in the children’s sector, perhaps to secure a job or to change position.

    Career Development

    • The programme is designed to enhance students' knowledge and understanding of young people’s lives so they can apply this in careers working with or on behalf of young people, particularly those in conflict with the law.

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • The programme is taught by staff actively engaged in research related to young people in conflict with the law, youth offending, young people & conflict, desistance, reintegration, young people & violence and children’s rights. We employ a range of research methods, with particular expertise in participatory research with children and narrative research. This programme is linked to the Centre for Children's Rights (CCR), which has an international reputation in the area of children's rights with a focus on the implementation of children's rights, young people in conflict with the law & youth justice, child participation, education, social care and the children with disabilities. The CCR has a vibrant community of PhD students undertaking research in a range of issues and in several countries.

    Student Experience

    • The programme is designed for flexible learning and involves a blended learning approach offering a mixture of online and face-to-face course delivery. It can also be taken full-time or part-time.
    • The programme has been designed to encourage students to consider the interface between social justice, criminal justice and children’s rights. Students have the opportunity to apply academic knowledge and critical analytical skills to practice and enhance understanding of young people’s lives, the criminal justice system and the discourse of children’s rights.
    • Students on the Programme automatically become a member of the Centre for Children’s Rights through which students can connect with other students, academic staff and our many international visitors who come to speak on related issues.
    “The Postgraduate Diploma in Youth Justice provides an opportunity for recent graduates, and those working in policy and practice, to enhance their understanding of contemporary youth issues, system responses to young people and the discourse of children’s rights. Importantly, it aims to enhance the ability of students to apply their learning to policy, practice and research through auditing rights compliance, designing research tools and writing comment pieces/blogs.”
    Dr Mary-Louise Corr, Programme Director
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    The programme draws on specialisms within the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (in youth studies, criminology, children’s rights and research methods). In addition to core modules, optional modules from a range of Master’s programme are available.

    A blended learning approach has been adopted which includes a mixture of face-to-face and online learning, traditional lectures, workshops, condensed weekend modules, online discussion forums and guest speakers.

    The Postgraduate Diploma is awarded to students who successfully complete a combination of core and optional taught modules (120 CATS points).

    A Certificate exit route is also available (60 CATS points from core modules).

    Course Details20 CATS modules generally involve 20 contact hours per semester, 10 CATS modules generally involve 10 contact hours per semester. Contact hours often include a blend of face-to-face lectures/ workshops and online sessions. Students can choose some optional modules that are all face-to-face, all online or a blend of both.

    Core modules:

    Childhood and Youth Research and Practice – 10 CATS
    This is an introductory module which brings together students and academic staff from a range of areas to showcase research, highlighting different issues and looking at a variety of projects using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The module will conclude with a workshop on research ethics and governance.

    Foundations in Children's Rights – 20 CATS
    This module will introduce students to international children's rights laws affecting children, with a particular focus on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It will locate children’s rights within the broader framework of human rights law and introduce the core provisions of international children's rights, emphasising the research skills used to identify and understand major human rights treaties and secondary documentation. It will explain the fundamental principles of children's rights and their implementation and introduce theory and ongoing debates in the field, such as the limits of children's autonomy and the potential tensions between children’s rights and parents’ rights.

    Perspectives in Childhood and Youth – 10 CATS
    This is an introductory module for students undertaking a Masters’ programme in the broad area of childhood and youth. It brings together students and academic staff from a range of areas to familiarise students with diverse disciplinary perspectives on children and young people. This intensive module will incorporate a range of contributions providing an introduction to:
    · Cross disciplinary approaches to understanding the lives of children and young people
    · The social construction of childhood and youth
    · Children’s rights
    · Child health and well-being
    · Critical reading and writing

    Youth and Social Justice – 20 CATS
    This module introduces students to key concepts, theories and debates in youth studies. It provides an understanding of the ways in which major social science disciplines have conceptualised and studied young people, alongside some of the contemporary issues that affect their lives. The module explores the framing, conceptualisation and theorisation of youth across time, considering the academic and political interest in their lives. It examines the relationship between young people, social change and social policy and encourages students to apply theory to contemporary youth issues, and to critically consider institutional and policy responses. Indicative content includes: representations of youth; youth cultures and subcultures; adolescent development; education, 13 employment and unemployment; regulation and criminalisation; youth identities.

    Youth Justice: Theory, Law and Practice – 20 CATS
    The module covers key areas to understand and critically assess approaches to youth justice. The emergence of a separate response over time to young people who come into conflict with the law is critically explored. Current system and practice orientations are examined as are interventions for young people who are processed through the youth justice system. Here students will learn about different philosophies, orientations and legal frameworks towards youth justice in local and international contexts. Students will be encouraged to critically reflect upon the benefits and drawbacks of the range of different approaches towards youth and justice. This will equip students to debate and critically reflect on contemporary issues such as the minimum age of criminal responsibility, over-representation in the youth justice system and the use of youth custody.

    Optional modules include:

    Childhood and Disability Rights – 20 CATS
    Disabled children and young people have only recently begun to be recognised as rights-holders. This module aims to provide students with a rich and considered understanding of children’s rights discourse as it applies to disabled children and young people’s lives. Students will be introduced to key theoretical perspectives and understandings of disability, and their criticisms, before examining the ways in which international human rights law has addressed the particular experiences of disabled children and young people. Students will gain an understanding of the complexities and diversities of disabled children and young people’s lives with respect to: education, health and social care, poverty, and transitions. By locating these thematic areas within the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), students will also be able to outline how rights discourse specific to disabled children and young people has changed over time. The module will also draw on contemporary research and highlight childhood disability research methods As such, it is designed to help students consider the relationship between ‘rights talk’ and ‘rights in practice’.

    Economic Impact of Childhood Interventions – 10 CATS
    This module will provide the student with the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of the economic impact of child health, psychological, educational and social care interventions on wellbeing, within the constraints of finite resources.

    Qualitative Data Analysis – 10 CATS
    The course will provide students with an overview of different approaches to qualitative data analysis. It will include introductory training to this skill that includes such techniques as thematic analysis and discourse analysis, as well as computer assisted qualitative data analysis. It will provide the knowledge necessary for the informed use of the qualitative data analysis software package NVivo 10. Thus, the module gives students a base level introduction to the analytical and technical skills in qualitative data analysis appropriate to the production of a Master's dissertation and/or use of CAQDAS software for social research purposes.

    Qualitative Research in Childhood and Youth – 10 CATS
    This module introduces students to some of the key qualitative approaches to carrying out research with children and young people and the realities and practicalities in doing so. The module begins by introducing the main issues and dilemmas in qualitative research with children and young people and moves on to critically interrogate the notion of participatory research. The adaption of ‘traditional methods’ of data collection is discussed alongside methods specifically designed to ‘engage’ children and young people in the research process. The strengths and weaknesses of various methods are discussed and each is illustrated through research examples. Practical tips in designing and ‘doing’ qualitative research are built into the sessions.

    Quantitative Data Analysis – 10/20 CATS
    This module provides an introduction to the basics of quantitative data analysis. The module will begin with a brief review of basic univariate and bivariate statistical procedures as well as covering data manipulation techniques. The module is taught through a series of seminars and practical workshops. These two strands are interwoven within each teaching session. New material is presented in short bursts followed by an opportunity to apply the new learning to the teaching datasets. The class size is relatively small, giving students opportunities for one-to-one work with the teaching staff.

    Researching Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland - 10 CATS
    The objectives of this module are to introduce advanced students to key issues in contemporary research on conflict and change in divided societies, using Northern Ireland as a case study. It will examine critical sociological debates about such topics as identity, ethnicity, inequality, and conflict management, and interrogate their usefulness in a Northern Irish context. Emphasis will be placed on how Northern Ireland may conform to, or challenge, contemporary debates in theoretical and comparative sociology.

    Youth Justice and Desistance – 20 CATS
    This course approaches the subject of desistance from crime among young people from a developmental perspective. A particular emphasis is placed on the impact of the youth justice system on pathways into and out of criminal engagement among young people. The module examines theories of age and crime and the invention of “maturational reform” as a criminological concept, then moves on to a review of contemporary research and theory on desistance from crime, including differences by demographic group and national context, and youth work practices that can support and sustain desistance (as well as those that exacerbate patterns of offending).

    People teaching you

    Dr Mary-Louise Corr
    Programme Director

    Dr Mary-Louise Corr’s research interests focus on the lived experiences of youth, particularly in the areas of offending, justice, homelessness and violence. Much of her research has included an in-depth qualitative analysis, often employing the biographical interview as the key research method.

    Dr Siobhán McAlister
    Senior Lecturer in Criminology

    Dr Siobhán McAlister's research interests are in the broad fields of youth, social justice and criminal justice. She has a particular interest in in-depth qualitative research with marginalised groups, including those who have experience of care and/ or justice systems.

    Professor Laura Lundy
    Professor and Director, Centre for Children's Rights

    Professor Laura Lundy is a Barrister with expertise in international children's rights with a particular focus on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, education rights and children's rights to participate in decision-making.

    Professor Shadd Maruna
    Professor in Criminology

    Prof. Shadd Maruna is Professor in Criminology with expertise in desistance from crime, offender reintegration, penal reform and narrative methodology.

    Teaching Times

    Morning / Afternoon / Evening/ Weekend and online flexible learning

    Career Prospects

    Possible career paths include work in youth and social justice related fields. Previous graduates have been successful in gaining jobs working for NGOs in the criminal justice and youth justice fields.

    Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

    Employment after the Course
    You will have gained the skills necessary to locate and evaluate policy, research and practice on youth justice related issues, and to undertake your own research in this area. This will position you for working in organisations that: advocate for the rights and needs of children in conflict with the law; that formulate policy; that undertake research.

    You will also have a more holistic understanding of the lives of children in conflict with the law, placing you in a perfect position to work with and for these children, and for organisation that support them (e.g. NGOs/ voluntary organisations, statutory sector bodies, government departments).

    You may follow in the footsteps of some of our recent graduates who work in young offenders centres in the Republic of Ireland, support young people transitioning from care in Scotland, mentor young people in conflict with the law in Northern Ireland, facilitate restorative justice in Mumbai or have extended their studies through doctoral study.

    Employment Links
    Civil service; criminal justice/ youth/ children’s rights charities; government departments; research organisations.

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:

    Flexible learning

    Weekend teaching and workshops outside normal teaching hours.

    Learning and Teaching Methods

    Contact hours often include a blend of face-to-face lectures/ workshops and online sessions. You can choose some optional modules that are all face-to-face, all online or a blend of both.


    Canvas is the university’s VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). You will be introduced to Canvas in the first session of the Youth and Social Justice module. You will have a unique username and password. You will have a Canvas site for each module which will work a little like a website where you can click on information to download or view it. For each module, the Canvas site will include: recorded audio/ visual lectures; readings (some of which are downloadable); video links; useful web links; discussion forums; activities. This is also where you will submit your coursework and receive feedback.


    Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

    Modules will be assessed through a variety of written work including: essays; blogs; research proposals/ tenders.


    The School is situated across a suite of three buildings in Belfast's Queen's Quarter. We provide student and staff common rooms, computer suites and designated study spaces.

    Explore the teaching and social spaces in our School through ur 360 Virtual Tour:

    The Graduate School

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a social science or related discipline.

    Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University may be considered if they have at least two years of professional experience in a relevant context.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 29th July 2022 at 4pm.

    Late applications may be considered.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    International Students

    Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,433
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,433
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,980
    EU Other 3 12,133
    International £12,133

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

    2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2022-23, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Youth Justice costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

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