Here’s the thing with criminology – solving mysteries isn't just for detectives in books. It can take you on a journey that turns your curiosity into a crime-solving career path.

Criminology, the study of crime and its causes, opens up a world of intrigue and possibilities. Learning in this field will give you a profound understanding of criminal behaviour, forensic science, and the intricate workings of the criminal justice system.

Aspiring criminologists explore the psychology behind criminal actions, analyse crime patterns, and contribute to crafting effective crime prevention strategies. That knowledge is a first step to a whole range of exciting career paths. From becoming a detective solving real-life mysteries to working in cybersecurity, from influencing criminal policies as a legal consultant to shaping rehabilitation programs, criminology offers many routes to career growth.  

The impact you could make
  • Learn the skills to create crime prevention strategies, influence law enforcement strategies, and improve community safety measures.
  • Advocate for criminal justice reform by shaping policies that look at the root cause of criminal behaviour.
  • Contribute to a safer and more just society.
What you could study
  • Criminal justice
  • Race and society
  • Policing
  • Restorative justice
  • Prisons, punishment, and rehabilitation
  • Forensics
  • Organised crime

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

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Example module
“I love biopsychology and cognition, and radical criminology as I was able to learn about green criminology which I am very passionate about. [Also] social and developmental psychology as I knew little about this and I’ve learnt why people do things."
Second year psychology and criminology student, University of Westminster, London
Example assignment
“My favourite assignment has to be the essay for the psychological explanations of criminal behaviour as it was interesting to research the different reasons an individual may commit a criminal offence.”
Second year criminology and sociology student, Aberystwyth University

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some criminology courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Hard skills you'll develop
  • Statistical analysis
  • Interpreting data sets to draw meaningful conclusions
  • Understanding of forensic techniques and technology
  • Legal research methods
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Empathy and cultural awareness
  • Evaluation of complex situations, theories, and evidence
  • Collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying criminology. The following information is based on a typical police officer (sergeant and below) role. 

Average salary
Up to £ 57,369
Available jobs
132,772 vacancies in the past year
3.97% growth over next eight years

What is a… professional crime novel consultant?

If you've mastered the art of unravelling criminal mysteries through your criminology studies, you could put that expertise to use in an unconventional way. Imagine being the go-to consultant for crime novelists, helping them inject realism into their plots, advising on criminal psychology, and ensuring crime scenes are described accurately. It's the perfect blend of detective work and literary flair, where your knowledge of criminology becomes the key to creating the next gripping bestseller.

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study criminology at university or as an apprentice. 

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from criminology applicants. 

A levels
Scottish Highers
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

Other subjects you may be interested in

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits!

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.
  5. Find out more

    Read our guide to protective services, and law and legal studies.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around criminology with the following. 

  1. BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed 

    A podcast exploring many of the common themes faced by society. 

  2. Podcast: code: SEVERE 

    A series revealing previously untold stories of terrorist attacks from the files of UK Counter Terrorism Police. 
  3. Netflix true crime documentaries 

    Hear from experts in criminology who have helped solve some of the world’s most shocking crimes. 

77% of students
studying criminology would recommend the subject to others
(UCAS subject guide survey 2023)

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your criminology journey.
Skills, experiences and interests to mention
  • What piqued your interest in criminology? Was it a local crime issue or legal case?
  • Do you love watching real crime documentaries to understand how experts solve crimes and catch perpetrators? A brief mention will show your passion for the subject.
  • Have you been in any clubs like a debate team or criminal justice club? Or any club that encourages discussion on legal and ethical issues?
  • Are there any books or articles you've read that influenced your interest in criminology? This demonstrates initiative and a proactive approach to learning.
  • If you've had any work experience in law enforcement, legal settings, or organisations dealing with social justice, talk about the tasks you performed, the challenges you faced, and the insights gained.

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