This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a compulsory module in inter-disciplinary social science, followed by a compulsory module in criminology.
- Next, in Stage 2, you'll study a compulsory sociology module, followed by a choice from two criminology modules.
At Stage 1 you’ll begin with a broad introduction to the social sciences, giving you a strong grounding in sociological and social scientific ideas and approaches. You'll then be introduced to key concepts in and approaches to understanding crime, criminal justice, harm and victimisation.
At Stage 2 you’ll investigate how the social world is being transformed by the internet and digital technology. You'll also choose between exploring the ways in which criminology explains problems of crime, and an introduction to social research methods.
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 2021.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Sociology uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- finding external/third party material online
- working in a group with other students
- working with specialist reading material
- 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 diploma.
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. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
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; e-learning 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 university-level study somewhere else, you may be able to count it towards this qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. For more details and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Sociology.
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
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
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
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
This diploma will enable you to formulate and investigate sociological and criminological questions; build arguments; assess the methods used to generate evidence and research; and analyse, interpret and evaluate a wide range of information. You'll also learn how to communicate effectively with different audiences (e.g. through reports, policy briefs, blogs, and presentations); and work cooperatively with others. You will develop substantial skills in time-management, self-reflection and self-motivation, and the ability to work independently.
A qualification in criminology and sociology can lead to employment across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Businesses, public sector organisations and educational institutions increasingly have to deal with social issues, and value the skills that criminology and sociology graduates can provide. Consequently, your diploma will be relevant to a wide range of professions, some of which are listed below. You can also use your diploma to pursue further study.
Please note, this diploma does not guarantee entry to the careers listed, which may require a degree and/or other specialist qualifications. However, it may help you gain those qualifications and enhance your prospects for progression once you are employed.
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.
- criminal justice worker – in prison, probation, police, victim and youth services
- voluntary or third sector work with communities, victims, vulnerable populations
- non-governmental organisations and aid workers
- social researcher
- community development worker
- social worker
- civil servant
- local government officer
- private risk and security worker
- human rights and other advocacy NGOs
- legal work
- secondary school teacher
- trade union official
- university administrator.