This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- At Stage 1 you’ll study two introductory modules – one with a focus on criminology and one with a focus on social science.
- Next, at Stage 2, you’ll study two modules exploring theories and research methods in criminology and criminal justice.
- Finally, at Stage 3, you’ll study the final two criminology modules. which will include completing a project on a criminological topic that interests you most.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
At Stage 1, you’ll begin with a broad introduction to social sciences thinking and the ways in which the study of crime has been informed by a variety of disciplines. You'll also be introduced to key concepts and theoretical approaches to understanding crime, criminal justice, harm and victimisation. These modules provide important underpinnings for Stage 2.
At Stage 2, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of criminological theories, with a focus on how these theories can help you to understand, interpret and reinterpret the social world in new and exciting ways. You will also learn about the strengths and limitations of different research methods in generating evidence about criminological topics. Both Stage 2 modules will provide useful foundations for your studies at Stage 3.
At Stage 3, you will explore some of the fundamental distinctions between crime and social harm. With a particular focus on the role of the state, you will scrutinise the reasons why certain behaviours come to be defined as ‘criminal’, while others do not. Applying what you have learnt throughout the qualification, you will also have the opportunity to conduct an independent study on a criminological topic of your choosing.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Criminology uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying online – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials and/or online tutorials
- developing numeracy and academic writing skills
- working in a group or collaborating with other students
- finding external/third party material online
- using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) Criminology degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- This qualification can only be studied part time due to the current availability of the modules.
- You'll complete 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Skills for career development
In addition to enhancing your knowledge and understanding of a broad range of criminological topics, this degree will enable you to acquire and develop an array of transferable employability skills that are highly valued in the world of work. Among other things, you will learn how to:
- solve problems by thinking critically and creatively
- write for different audiences and for different purposes
- work independently and in groups
- create and communicate coherent arguments
- utilise various IT software and digital platforms to search for and present information
- interpret qualitative and quantitative data to make sense of the world around you.
This degree is relevant to a wide range of career paths, some of which are listed below. Some relate directly to criminology, while others draw upon the transferable skills that you will acquire throughout the qualification. Successful graduates may also progress to specialist masters courses. While this degree does not guarantee entry to the career fields listed below, it may improve access, increase your employability, and enhance your prospects of career progression.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):
- youth worker
- victim support officer
- police officer
- probation officer
- prison officer
- social researcher
- community development worker
- social worker
- civil servant
- voluntary or third sector work with communities, victims, vulnerable populations
- work within human rights and other advocacy NGOs