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BSc (Honours) Criminology and Psychological Studies

Why does crime occur? What makes people do harm to others? The BSc (Honours) Criminology and Psychological Studies explores a range of fascinating issues to do with crime, criminal justice and psychology - including antisocial behaviour, surveillance, security, social justice, social welfare and environmental degradation. You'll gain a thorough understanding of a range of broader psychological and criminological theories and topics, such as how the mind works and the relationship between social welfare and crime control. As well as grasping the complex issues behind so many headlines, TV programmes and political debates, you'll learn how to construct and analyse arguments; think critically about published work across a range of sources; understand and analyse statistical information; and apply concepts and ideas to the real world. You'll have your own specialist, subject-based academic support as well as opportunities to join in online communities of other social sciences students for teaching, learning and peer support.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q48 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal entry requirements to study this degree.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

Employers value the diverse skills of social science and psychology graduates very highly. Combining psychology with criminology in this degree course will provide you with a particularly strong set of transferable skills. These include the ability to:

  • identify, gather, analyse and assess evidence
  • present reasoned and coherent arguments
  • write clearly in a range of styles such as essays, reports and policy reviews
  • understand and analyse statistical information
  • apply learning to real world problems and situations
  • conduct independent work and research
  • plan and reflect on your own work and learning.

The BSc (Honours) Criminology and Psychological Studies is relevant to a very broad range of careers including those within the criminal justice system, such as the police, prison and probation services, and organisations concerned with:

  • the care and resettlement of offenders
  • civil liberties
  • human rights
  • social justice
  • victim support
  • crime prevention
  • community safety
  • conflict resolution.

In addition, the psychological skills you'll develop will be valuable to occupations in many other sectors, including: education, health, human resources, management, social services, advertising, and career counselling.

Please note: this degree will not make you eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) by the British Psychological Society.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

The Criminology strand of this degree aims to:

  • introduce you to a social constructionist perspective in social science
  • teach you how to apply this perspective in analyses of developments in social and criminal justice policy
  • enable you to survey the shifts in criminal justice and social policy that have taken place since the late eighteenth century
  • provide you with an insight into the diverse and expanding boundaries of the discipline of criminology
  • help you to communicate and to apply your knowledge in an appropriately scholarly manner to provide a sound basis for further study at third and postgraduate level.

The Psychology strand of this degree aims to provide you with:

  • an understanding of key concepts, theories, methods and debates in psychology
  • an appreciation of different perspectives within psychology and the ability to evaluate them critically
  • experience of designing, carrying out, analysing and reporting psychological research using a range of research methods.

Both strands of this degree aim to provide you with support and guidance to improve your own learning and performance and to develop as an independent learner.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will know and understand:

  • links between the construction of social problems and welfare and criminal justice policies, both historical and contemporary
  • patterns and processes in the restructuring of social and criminal justice policies, particularly in the past two decades
  • competing rationales for criminal justice
  • key debates to be found in contemporary criminology (e.g. crime causation, the meaning of crime, the ubiquity of crime, the nature of justice)
  • the relevance of the concepts of discourse, power, social construction, and social difference for the analysis of criminal justice and social policies
  • the key approaches to psychology, and the contribution of different theorists to psychological ideas and thinking
  • an understanding of a range of research methods, including ethical issues, in psychology and their appropriate use.

Cognitive skills

You will be able to:

  • organise, select, present and evaluate arguments logically
  • recognise and use abstract concepts and theories in the fields of criminology and psychology
  • read original papers and evaluate them in an appropriately critical, social and scientific manner
  • understand and evaluate a range of research strategies and methods used in the study of criminology and psychology
  • interpret, use and evaluate different kinds of evidence and understand that data and knowledge are socially constructed and contested.

Practical and/or professional skills

You will be able to:

  • adopt a critical stance towards 'common-sense/taken for granted' understandings of the social world
  • apply theory to the study of policy issues
  • analyse and assess research findings and appreciate the ethical principles involved
  • design and conduct research using a range of methods and types of data analysis and report these in appropriate formats.

Key skills

You will be able to:


  • select, summarise and synthesise information from different sources, including primary text and other multimedia forms
  • select and read material in an appropriate way and efficiently and effectively take notes
  • present written material in a coherently organised form, with arguments and information in a logical sequence, communicated effectively and referenced appropriately.

Numerical skills

  • interpret and present tables, graphs, diagrams and bar charts
  • work with quantitative data and apply appropriate statistical procedures.

Information technology

  • access, process and prepare information using computers
  • use information technology to access library resources.

Learning how to learn

  • analyse tasks, make plans for tackling them and manage time
  • identify and use sources of support and learn from feedback
  • monitor and reflect on personal progress, identifying own strengths and weaknesses.

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