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PgDip | Postgraduate Taught

Youth Justice

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
Please note, the start date of this course may have changed. Check for latest updates.
  • Overview

    This course has been suspended for 2020 entry due to coronavirus and is not available for admission in September 2020. The next intake will be in September 2021 and applications can be submitted from mid-September 2020.

    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.

    Youth Justice highlights

    Student Experience

    • This programme involves a blended learning approach offering a mixture of online and face-to-face course delivery.
    • 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.
    “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 Siobhán McAlister, Programme Director

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • 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 in the School are available. You can also choose from optional modules in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the School of Psychology.

    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 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 brings together students and academic staff from a range of areas to familiarise students with diverse disciplinary perspectives on children and young people. Indicative content includes: the sociology of childhood; youth studies; psychobiological approaches; children’s rights; health approaches and interventions.

    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.

    Youth Justice: Theory, Law and Practice – 20 CATS
    The module covers key areas in youth justice including theories on causes of offending. 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 such as prevention and early intervention are explored, 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 merits and demerits of the panoply of different approaches towards youth and justice from restoration to responsibilisation, towards risk orientation and welfarism.

    Optional modules include:

    Childhood, Disability and Rights – 20 CA
    Economic Impact of Childhood Interventions – 10 CATS
    Qualitative Data Analysis – 10 CATS
    Qualitative Research in Childhood and Youth – 10 CATS
    Quantitative Data Analysis – 10/20 CATS
    Researching Conflict and Change in Northern Ireland - 10 CATS

    People teaching you

    Dr Mary-Louise Corr
    Programme Co-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
    Programme Co-Director

    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.

    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. The programme is also an excellent stepping stone for Doctoral research.

    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 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.


    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.


    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 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 31st July 2020 at 4pm.

    Late applications may be considered.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the 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.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

    • 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) £4,093
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £4,600
    Other (non-UK) EU £4,093
    International £11,267

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. 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

    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.

    Download a prospectus