skip to content

Postgraduate Study


The MPhil in Criminological Research is structured around two teaching terms in which students attend two core courses, two optional courses, and a research methods training course, with the remainder of the year devoted to the preparation of a research-based thesis.

The basic aims of both MPhil programmes are:

  • to offer up-to-date and high-quality degree courses, introducing students to some of the most important theory, methods and research in criminology;
  • to offer a sound academic foundation to those who aspire to undertake a PhD or career in teaching and research in criminology or related fields; and
  • to provide a sound foundation of knowledge and methodological skills to those who wish to work in a wide range of criminal justice agencies, the legal profession, or other professional or voluntary organisations.
One to one supervision

Each student will be assigned a supervisor by the beginning of the second week of term. The main role of the supervisor is to provide general academic advice to students, and subject-specific advice relating to the thesis. Supervisors should arrange to meet with individual students fortnightly within the academic term for a review of progress and participation in the programme.

Supervisors will normally have specialist knowledge of the thesis topic chosen by each student. However, this is not always possible given the range of topics students pursue. Where it is necessary and appropriate, the supervisor will arrange for a separate "thesis advisor", another staff member who has expertise in the thesis topic.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

MPhil in Criminological Research students are required to take the core seminar courses (Criminological Theories and Criminological Research Methods) and two optional seminar courses. Students are also required to complete four modules for the Social Sciences Research Methods course.

The core seminars take place twice a week during Michaelmas Term (a total of three hours per week for each seminar course); optional seminar courses typically involve eight 1.5 hour seminars which meet once or twice per week. Social Science Research Methods course schedules vary depending on the module; see the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme website for details. This programme complements and supplements in-house methods training within the Institute of Criminology.


In addition to the main research methods seminars,  MPhil in Criminological Research students attend a series of workshops which provide an opportunity to put each key research method into practice. The aim is to familiarise students with some of the practical considerations which relate to each method and to provide hands-on experience conducting each method. Students may be asked to complete a short assignment following each workshop.

Posters and Presentations

All students will be required to give a short presentation on their thesis research in the Lent term.


Supervisors submit termly reports on students' progress to the Student Registry; once these reports are submitted, they will be available to students via the Postgraduate Feedback and Reporting System.


Thesis / Dissertation

MPhil in Criminological Research students must submit one thesis of not more than 18,000 words (including endnotes/footnotes and any references they contain, but excluding the separate reference list and appendices) on a criminological topic chosen by the student and approved by the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Law. Students are expected to demonstrate, via the thesis, a competent application of research methods.

Each student is also required to give a short presentation on their thesis topic. The thesis accounts for 35 per cent of the assessed coursework, and the thesis presentation for five per cent.


MPhil in Criminological Research students must submit three essays, each of no more than 3,000 words, on topics which the student will choose from lists announced by the examiners. These include one criminological theories essay, based on a topic chosen from a list relating to the core Criminological Theories course; and two optional course essays, each relating to a different optional course the student has attended and based on a topic chosen from the list relating to that course. Each essay accounts for ten per cent of the assessed coursework.

MPhil in Criminological Research students must also submit one criminological research methods exercise relating to the core course in Criminological Research Methods, which may comprise different elements including a written exercise of not more than 3,000 words. This exercise accounts for 15 per cent of the assessed coursework.

MPhil in Criminological Research students must also complete one SSRMP research design exercise of not more than 4,000 words. This exercise also accounts for 15 per cent of the assessed coursework.

Practical assessment

Students must complete the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP) assessments set by the examiners of each SSRMP module. These take the form of either an online multiple-choice test or an assessed project. Upon completing an assessment, the student will receive credit for attending the respective SSRMP module. Criminological Research students must attend four SSRMP modules across Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Thus although performance on these SSRMP assessments will not affect the student's mark, failure to complete them can result in a failure to meet the requirements of the course.


Any candidate who has failed a unit of assessment, who has one or more units assessed as "borderline", or whose work for any other reason, in the opinion of the senior examiner, requires additional assessment, will normally be called for an oral examination.

Examiners for an oral examination are usually the examiners or assessors of the assignment(s) causing concern and an external examiner. The oral examination may cover any aspect of the programme. The Board of Examiners will consider the candidate’s overall performance (in the written units of assessment and in the oral examination) in deciding whether or not to recommend that the candidate be awarded the MPhil degree.

Apply Now

Key Information

12 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Institute of Criminology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
March 31, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.

Similar Courses