skip to content

Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Criminology is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil in Criminology is structured around two teaching terms in which students attend two core courses and three optional courses, and one research term devoted to the preparation of a thesis.

The basic aims of both MPhil programmes are as follows:

  1. Offer up-to-date and high-quality degree courses, introducing students to some of the most important theory, methods and research in criminology
  2. Offer a sound academic foundation to those who aspire to undertake a PhD or career in teaching and research in criminology or related fields
  3. 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 organisation
One to one supervision

Each student will be assigned a supervisor at the beginning of the first teaching term. The main role of the supervisor is to provide general academic advice to students, and subject-specific advice relating to the thesis.  Students should expect to receive an average of 3 hours of supervision per term.

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 adviser", another staff member who has expertise on 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 Criminology students are required to take two core seminar courses (Criminological Theories and Criminological Research Methods) and three optional seminar courses.

The core seminars take place during the Michaelmas Term (a total of three hours per week for each seminar course).

The optional seminar courses typically involve eight 1.5 hour seminars, which meet once per week.

Compulsory criminological theories discussion groups, and practical research methods workshops, also take place throughout the Michaelmas Term.


In addition to the main research methods seminars, MPhil in Criminology 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 are required to give a short presentation on their dissertation research in the first half of 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 Criminology students complete one thesis of between 15,000 and 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 Faculty of Law Degree Committee.

Students are expected to demonstrate, via the thesis, a critical understanding of research principles.

Each student is also required to give a short presentation on their thesis topic.

The dissertation accounts for 35 per cent of the assessed coursework, and the thesis presentation for five per cent.


MPhil in Criminology students must submit four essays, each one 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;

Three Optional Course essays, each relating to a different optional course the student has attended and based on a topic chosen from the list essay questions relating to that course. Each essay accounts for 10 per cent of the assessed coursework.

MPhil in Criminology 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 20 per cent of the assessed coursework.


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.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Institute of Criminology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
March 26, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

Similar Courses