Criminology focuses on the causes and consequences of crime, as well as how the criminal justice system responds to crime. Criminologists are interested in how activities come to be defined as criminal, and why definitions of crime vary across countries and over time. The subject includes a wide range of social and psychological theories that attempt to explain criminal behaviour and the effective operation of the criminal justice system.
Social Policy students learn how to tackle major policy problems. They do this by applying core concepts from social science to intractable social problems such as gender inequality, eldercare, children's rights and climate change. There is strong crossover between criminology and social policy as many of the people who end up within the criminal justice system have experienced poverty, inequality or discrimination. As an applied and critical social science, you will gain knowledge and understanding of contemporary government policies, their impacts, and consider how we can achieve improvements.
Criminology and Social Policy Degree highlights
Criminology at Queen’s is ranked 9th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2020. Social Policy is ranked 16th in the UK (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020).
- There is also the opportunity to study or work abroad, supported by schemes such as Erasmus and Study USA.
- Students can spend time studying in one of our linked Universities in Europe.
Internationally Renowned Experts
- Criminology and Social Policy is taught by a group of internationally recognised researchers who specialise in areas such as criminal justice policy, prisons, desistance from crime, offender reintegration, drug use, youth justice, conflict, social justice, gender inequality, population ageing, disability and human rights.
- Students in the School are educated in a dynamic academic environment by award-winning teaching staff, and in a recent government-sponsored review of research, staff in the School achieved 'world-leading' and 'international excellence' status for the high quality of their research work.
- Students can expect personal attention as classes are smaller when you take joint honours Social Policy with Criminology or Sociology.
"The course offers a wide range of interesting and diverse modules covering many topics and interests. The support and guidance from the department and the expertise of staff has provided me with an invaluable experience that has furthered my knowledge and understanding of both criminological and sociological theory and has motivated me to further my learning by undertaking a Master's degree at Queen's."
Rachel Stanley (Joint Honours Graduate 2016)
Introduction Modules often draw on international comparisons with a strong Irish (North and South) emphasis.
All of the optional modules are taught by experts in the area, who have published textbooks and research articles on the topic at hand.
Stage 1 Core Modules - Introducing Criminology
- Introducing Social Policy
- Exploring Criminology
- Themes and Issues in Social Policy
Stage 1 Optional Modules - Rethinking Society
- The Sociological Imagination
- Digital Society
- Visualising the Social World
Stage 2 Core Modules - Criminological Theory
- Welfare in Theory and Practice
- Qualitative Research Skills
- Quantitative Research Skills
Stage 2 Optional Modules - Questions for an Ageing World
- Policing and Society
- Theory Counts
Stage 3 Core Modules - Disability and Society
- Youth, Crime and Criminal Justice
- Punishment, Penal Policy and Prison
- Policy Briefing Paper
Stage 3 Optional Modules - Psychological Perspectives on Crime
- Gender, Family and Social Policy
- Criminology Beyond Borders
- Reintegration After Prison
- Modelling the Social World
- Social Identity: Difference and Inequalities
- Welfare States on the Move: Social Policy Reform in Comparative Perspective
The Optional Q-Step Exit Pathway Students who wish to benefit from specialist training in quantitative research can undertake a series of dedicated social science research modules over the course of their degree studies. Successful completion of 80 CATS credits of advanced quantitative research training (four modules) in level 2 and level 3 will receive the enhancement of BSc “with Quantitative Methods” added to the name of the degree awarded. Value Added to your Degree Students will receive detailed instructions on assignments in tutorials or in one-to-one meetings with tutors and lecturers.
People teaching youDr Gemma Carney
Programme Director for BA Criminology and Social Policy
SSESWDr John Topping
Lecturer in Criminology
John’s research interests are in the broad area of policing. He has a particular interest in police stop and search powers, community policing, police reform, public order policing and paramilitarism.
Contact Teaching Times
Large Group Teaching 6 (hours maximum)
Personal Study 24 (hours maximum)
22–24 hours studying and revising in your own time each week, including some guided study using handouts, online activities, etc
Small Group Teaching/Personal Tutorial 2 (hours maximum)
hours of tutorials (or later, project supervision) each week
Learning and Teaching
We aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential.
On the Criminology and Social Policy joint honours course we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life, and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.
Criminology and Social Policy students at Queen's are taught in a dynamic academic environment by an award-winning teaching staff, in a School that was rated as one of the leading departments in the United Kingdom.
- E-Learning technologies
Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via our Canvas Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree programme through the use of, for example, online discussion forums, research methods modules involving statistics, additional learning resources, online readings, and opportunities to use IT programmes in project- based work.
- Guest speakers
We work with service users and criminal justice agencies, and people from external organisations regularly provide guest lectures on the course. As well as studying the academic and theoretical aspects of social policy and criminology, students have opportunities to hear from people who have run campaigning groups that have altered policy and from senior practitioners within the Police, Courts Custodial and Community Services.
These introduce foundation information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. As the module progresses this information becomes more complex. Lectures also provide opportunities to ask questions, gain some feedback and advice on assessments (normally delivered in large groups to all year group peers).
- Peer Mentoring
We offer a peer mentoring scheme for our BA students, which sees specially- trained second and third year students, under the guidance of staff and the Centre for Educational Development, help first year students settle into life at Queen’s through social events, small group or one-to-one informal support and learning skills workshops.
- Personal Tutor
Undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor from their first day at the university. The Personal Tutor is available to meet with them and to give advice throughout their time at Queen’s, in support of their academic development and to act as an important point of contact with the School.
- Self-directed study
This is an essential part of life as a Queen’s student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.
A significant amount of teaching is carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 students). These provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of peers. You should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups.
- Study abroad opportunities
Students have the opportunity to spend some time studying in one of our linked universities. For example, this can take the form of a semester’s study in Sweden (Lünd) (for which credits are transferred back to your degree here in Queen’s) or an intensive two week international study school in Spain (Barcelona).
- Supervised research
In final year, you will be expected to carry out a significant piece of research for a voluntary organisation on a topic selected through liaison with the Northern Ireland Science Shop. You will receive support to guide you in terms of how to carry out your research and will be provided with feedback in person and via email.
- Work-Related learning/Field Trips/Study Tours
Study visits and field trips are integrated into several of our option modules. The purpose of these tours are to help students apply their learning to the real-work context and to exercise critical thinking and interpretation. Back in the classroom, students undertake a number of group-based tasks in workshops focused on the field trip and present their findings to classmates.
Details of assessments associated with this course are outlined below:
- The way in which students are assessed will vary according to the learning objectives of each module. Some modules are assessed solely through project work or written assignments. Others are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction. Following each element of assessed coursework, students are provided with detailed feedback on the quality of their written work and how they can improve future assignments.
As students’ progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. As a university student, you will be expected to take a greater role in reflecting on this and taking the initiative in continuously improving the quality of your work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
- Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted.
- Face-to-face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” to help you to address a specific query.
- Placement employer comments or references.
- Online or emailed comment.
- General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
- Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars which you can review in your own time.
- Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
- Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.
- Once you have reviewed your feedback, you will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work.
The School is located within a recently renovated building, with state of the art teaching and learning facilities, together with dedicated student space including a large student common room. The teaching facilities enable an interactive learning environment.
- E-Learning technologies
In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance below on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.
Applications are dealt with centrally by the Admissions and Access Service rather than by individual University Schools. Once your on-line form has been processed by UCAS and forwarded to Queen's, an acknowledgement is normally sent within two weeks of its receipt at the University.
Selection is on the basis of the information provided on your UCAS form. Decisions are made on an ongoing basis and will be notified to you via UCAS.
Demand for places differs from course to course and for this degree, past performance at GCSE is taken into account when deciding whether or not to make conditional offers. For entry last year, we started making offers to applicants offering A-Level/BTEC Level 3 qualifications, who have achieved 6 grade B/6 (or averaged to 6 grade B/6) at GCSE. This threshold may be lowered as the cycle progresses depending upon the number and quality of applications. The final threshold is not usually determined until late in the admissions cycle, so there may be a delay in processing applicants who do not meet the initial threshold. GCSE English Language grade C is also required
Offers are normally made on the basis of 3 A-levels. The offer for repeat applicants is set in terms of 3 A-Levels only and is normally the same as that asked from the first time applicants. Grades may be held from the previous year.
Applicants offering two A-levels and one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent qualification), or one A-level and a BTEC Diploma/National Diploma (or equivalent qualification) will also be considered. Offers will be made in terms of performance in individual BTEC units rather than the overall BTEC grade(s) awarded. Please note that a maximum of one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent) will be counted as part of an applicant’s portfolio of qualifications. The normal GCSE profile will be expected.
For applicants offering a HNC, the current requirements are successful completion of the HNC with 2 Distinctions and remainder Merits.
For those offering a HND, to be eligible for an offer, a minimum of 4 Merits and remainder of units at pass grade is necessary in the year 1 performance. Applicants must successfully complete the HND with 2 Distinctions and remainder Merits in all units assessed in the final year. Any consideration would be for stage 1 entry only.
For those offering an HNC or HND , some flexibility may be allowed in terms of GCSE profile.
For applicants offering the Irish Leaving Certificate, please note that performance at Junior Certificate is taken into account and at the end of last year’s application cycle, the Junior Cert profile was a minimum of 6 B grades.
The information provided in the personal statement section and the academic reference together with predicted grades are noted however, these are not the final deciding factors as to whether or not a conditional offer can be made. However, they may be reconsidered in a tie break situation in August.
A-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking would not normally be considered as part of a three A-level offer and, although they may be excluded where an applicant is taking 4 A-level subjects, the grade achieved could be taken into account if necessary in August/September.
Applicants are not normally asked to attend for interview, though there are some exceptions and specific information is provided with the relevant subject areas.
If you are made an offer then you may be invited to a Faculty/School Open Day, which is usually held in the second semester. This will allow you the opportunity to visit the University and to find out more about the degree programme of your choice and the facilities on offer. It also gives you a flavour of the academic and social life at Queen's.
If you cannot find the information you need here, please contact the University Admissions Service (firstname.lastname@example.org), giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs
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.
International Students - Foundation and International Year One Programmes
INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.
These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.
The INTO progression course suited to this programme is
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Criminology and Social Policy graduates are ideally placed for work in a range of occupations, including the civil service, public services, policy analysis, media, research, teaching, business, the voluntary sector, commerce, marketing and management. Some graduates build on the degree by undertaking postgraduate training in fields such as social work, law, social science research and teaching. Tailored careers advice and study guidance is available to all students throughout their time at Queen’s.
Studying for a Social Policy/Criminology degree at Queen’s will assist you in developing the core skills and employment-related experiences that are valued by employers, professional organisations and academic institutions. Graduates from this degree at Queen’s are well regarded by many employers (local, national and international) and over half of all graduate jobs are now open to graduates of any discipline.
The diversity of interests and topics covered in the discipline, plus the wide range of skills it equips you with, means that our students enter a wide range of careers on graduation. These include the public sector (e.g. social services, education, criminal justice, social work), private sector (e.g. market research, policy analysis, human resources), and third sector (e.g. policy analyst, researcher, youth support worker, charity fundraiser). A number of our students also go on to postgraduate study, on a full or part-time basis.
Employment after the Course
Typical career destinations of graduates include:
Youth and Community Worker
Social policy students have gone on to work for Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, the civil service, charities such as the Peter McVerry Trust and Age NI. Many go on to further study in social policy at masters and PhD level.
Graduate employers include:
Northern Ireland Civil Service
Northern Ireland Housing Executive
National Health Service
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Belfast City Council
Commission for Victims and Survivors NI
Additional Awards Gained
Students undertaking project SPY3002 (Policy Briefing) in year 3 will incur travel costs visiting partner organisations, the cost of which will vary depending on location.
Prizes and Awards
The highest achieving students in the school are awarded the annual Lockheed Prize.
In the Undergraduate Awards (2019), a social policy student essay from Questions for an Ageing World was ‘highly commended’.
Top performing students are regularly awarded prizes/scholarships. In the world leading Global Undergraduate Awards (2019), a social policy student essay from Questions for an Ageing World was ‘highly commended’.
Degree plus award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,530 Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,530 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £9,250 EU Other 3 £17,400 International £17,400
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, 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.
Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.
Additional course costs
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. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.
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 final year 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.
Criminology and Social Policy costs
Students undertaking project SPY3002 (Policy Briefing) in year 3 will incur travel costs visiting partner organisations, the cost of which will vary depending on location.
How do I fund my study?
There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union.
Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.
Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How and when to Apply
How to Apply
Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/students.
When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2021 from 1 September 2020.
Advisory closing date: 15 January 2021 (18:00). This is the 'equal consideration' deadline for this course.
Applications from UK and EU students after this date are, in practice, considered by Queen’s for entry to this course throughout the remainder of the application cycle (30 June 2021) subject to the availability of places.
Applications from International (non-UK/EU) students are normally considered by Queen’s for entry to this course until 30 June 2021. If you apply for 2021 entry after this deadline, you will automatically be entered into Clearing.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.
The Institution code name for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.
Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/
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.
Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students
- Applying through UCAS
Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2021.
- Applying direct
The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
- Applying through agents and partners
The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.
Fees and Funding
- Applying through UCAS