Postgraduate MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Criminal Justice: People and Processes





One year

Two year

Next enrolment

September 2025


In a nutshell

This dynamic course will support you to develop a critical understanding of contemporary and global criminological issues, with a specific focus on 'people and processes'. This course adopts a holistic approach, examining crime, justice, and penal policies to explore their impact on those involved in administering and receiving criminal justice. You will critically analyse how we might develop processes to improve outcomes for those who encounter the criminal justice system. 

In addition to exploring key contemporary criminological issues, you will also receive advanced research training, exploring contemporary, innovative, cutting-edge research methodologies, including visual and online methods.

You will be taught by internationally renowned criminological experts alongside engagement with our professional partners (criminal justice practitioners, policymakers, voluntary sector professionals) and those who are experts by experience (including victims, offenders, and their families). Combined with classroom discussions and debates, you will develop the skills and knowledge to design, analyse, and evaluate criminal justice processes and policies. Supported by our team of experts, you will have the opportunity to implement appropriate analytical and research skills within a final dissertation or applied project focusing on an aspect of criminal justice of your choice guided by an academic supervisor.

You will:

  • Be taught by leading academics involved in cutting-edge criminological research.
  • Benefit from direct engagement with our professional partners (practitioners, policymakers, and those who are experts by experience, such as victims and offenders).
  • Develop a critical understanding of the lived experiences of those involved in administering and receiving criminal justice.
  • Gain a critical understanding of the context in which crime, justice, and penal policies are developed and implemented.
  • Develop strong, cutting-edge, analytical research skills.
  • Gain relevant experience, skills, and expertise to enable you to embark on or progress a career in the area of criminal justice.

students accepted

This course is for you if...


You are passionate about criminology and understanding the experiences of people in the criminal justice system.


You are driven by curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration and want to develop problem-solving, project management, and research leadership skills.


You want to work in organisations that administer, support, and underpin the criminal justice system (in government, public, third and private sector organisations).


You are currently in an officer, policy, or service delivery/advocacy role but are looking to step up your career by developing expertise and leadership in applied research with a criminal justice focus.


You have recently completed an undergraduate degree and are committed to understanding a particular criminology/criminal justice issue - this course will give you the tools to really explore that topic.


You want to prepare for a PhD in a social science discipline, where you can conduct original and independent research that advances the knowledge and understanding of your field.

Course details

All about the course

This programme explores the scale, complexity, and significance of criminal justice systems. It recognises that such systems are made up of a myriad of public, private and third-sector organisations, all of which significantly shape the lives of those who encounter them. Through critical criminology and criminal justice thinking, this programme will explore the practices and lived experiences of those involved in administering and experiencing criminal justice. 

This programme will include:

  • A critical exploration of criminal justice processes, drawing on UK and international comparative examples to understand key institutions and agencies that make up criminal justice systems.
  • An evidence-based consideration of the lived experiences of individuals who experience the criminal justice system including offenders, victims, families, professionals and practitioners through case studies, vignettes, and live inputs.
  • A critical appreciation of cutting-edge and emerging themes in criminal justice practice, including trauma-informed approaches, restorative justice, alternatives to custody, and the intersection of multiple and complex needs.
  • The development of applied social research methods appropriate for working within the criminal justice system.
  • This programme will draw on the expertise and partnerships within policing, prisons, and probation organisations in the UK and overseas. Through the comparative work of Criminology colleagues (as outlined below), this programme will offer a unique understanding of criminal justice processes and will draw on a range of speakers with lived experience.

Applied Social Research Methods

The core research methods module for all programmes in the suite focuses on building a sound knowledge and understanding (as well as experience) of social research methods and how they can be used in a professional context. Content will focus on understanding rigour and process in collecting and analysing (quantitative and qualitative) data and communicating findings.

Through hands-on workshops and live-brief activities, students will be supported in understanding how social research methods can shape research in the workplace through essential tools, including needs assessment and stakeholder analyses, log frames, project planning, and monitoring and evaluation processes. Assessment portfolios will be aware of the skills needed in the workplace and will include, for example, research proposal writing, mixed method data analysis, and research communications.

Changing Lives: Living with Justice and Injustice

This core module will explore people affected by the criminal justice system to develop an advanced understanding of victims, offenders/perpetrators and families who are impacted by crime as well as those people who make up the extensive criminal justice workforce (in public, private and third sector organisations). People with lived experience, for instance, those who have been stopped and searched, have spent time in prison, been the victim of crime and/or work in a criminal justice setting will contribute to the module.

Contributions by individuals/organisations with real-world/life experience and personal accounts of crime and punishment, for instance, JENGbA the campaign group offering support to families and friends of those who believe they have suffered a wrongful conviction under Joint Enterprise will add to the student learning experience. Students will explore fundamental questions about the different people affected by crime using a critical criminological lens to gain an advanced understanding of the importance of lived experience when considering the criminal justice system in the UK.

Deconstructing the Criminal Justice Process

This core module will focus on key issues and developments in criminal justice in the UK to develop an advanced understanding of specific issues relating to criminal justice policy and practice. Content will cover an examination/exploration of contemporary criminal justice policy developments in sentencing and punishment. Alongside this, content around racism in criminal justice institutions will be critically explored.

The module will also explore challenges to criminal justice such as crime prevention, restorative justice, and miscarriage of justice. Students will gain advanced knowledge and a critical understanding of criminal justice practice and processes.

Social Sciences Postgraduate Dissertation

This 60-credit module will include a range of workshops to support you in developing and delivering a high-quality postgraduate dissertation assessment. You will be supported to deliver either (a) a traditional 12,000-word dissertation or (b) a 10,000-word report based on a workplace challenge you have used research to explore. 

It is expected that option (b) will be of most benefit to those already working in policy or research roles in organisations. Students will also develop a five-minute poster presentation to be presented at a post-submission seminar event. Students will be supervised on a one-to-one basis. 

Option Module

You are able to take one optional module from the core modules on the other courses within this suite of postgraduate courses.

Making Change Happen (ESC)

In exploring the drivers of social change, this module, through participatory workshops, focuses on developing a typology of change actions with an emphasis on understanding how individuals and organisations enable/make change. Key partners bring live briefs into the classroom to stimulate group discussion. In the latter part of the module, you will pick up on these key social policy areas and develop theories and mechanisms of change which will be presented as a public-facing assessment.

Supporting Research: Leadership and Impact (ASRM)

This module builds an advanced understanding of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and the philosophical traditions they are rooted in. This module explores current and likely future trajectories of research in an era of big data and challenges to traditional Western paradigms of research.

The latter part of the module will explore the philosophies, practicalities, and implications of research governance, funding, and infrastructure in academic and real-world contexts. The key to this module is developing you as a future research leader with a sound understanding of the philosophies and principles that underpin impactful research.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


This course is taught by an interdisciplinary teaching team who bring criminal justice and criminology expertise to module workshops. Teaching colleagues have extensive experience in developing academic and applied thinking in their subject areas. They have experience in advising organisations, leading criminal justice policy developments, and conducting research in criminology and criminal justice locally, nationally, and internationally. Delivery modes reflect the specific aims of each module. The mix of teaching delivery includes:

  • Workshops, where you will deepen your knowledge and develop a critical understanding through group work, practical activities, case studies, peer and professional review, presentations, practical activities, and discussion and debate with peers and experts from industry. Sessions will include bespoke live briefs and real-world scenario activities introduced by key external partners.
  • Occasional lectures, which provide theoretical and methodological perspectives and knowledge, and guest lectures, where speakers from academia and industry will provide you with a range of insights into key issues and real-world applications in sectors where the digital plays a key role.
  • Tutorials, where you will have the opportunity to gain one-to-one feedback and support.
  • One-to-one dissertation supervision where you will be provided with expert advice specific to your dissertation theme/project.

As a postgraduate course, extensive independent learning is also expected and is supported through tutorial support and regular check-ins with module and course staff.

Delivery will be from expert colleagues from across the Directorate of Social Sciences, the wider University, and from key external partners who will be involved in showcasing research agendas and projects within and beyond academic settings.


Assessments will be designed to enhance your career prospects in frontline criminal justice agencies and third-sector criminal justice organisations. Each module will include a range of assessment activities to test your skills mid-module (formative assessments) and assess your knowledge and skills at the end (summative assessment). Examples of these assessments include:

  • Fully costed research proposals and data analysis reports.
  • Oral (20-minute) and poster presentations (5 minutes and a single poster) for a variety of practitioner audiences.
  • Impact reports and policy briefs.
  • Final 12,000-word dissertation OR 10,000-word work-based project.

At various stages throughout the course, you will be supported to make choices about your assessment pathway.

The School of Health and Society

The School of Health and Society is a forward-thinking, dynamic school with a commitment to lifelong learning and real-world impact. 

We live in a rapidly changing world, and we’re keen to leave a productive legacy of helping people at all stages of their lives, improving their physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

Programme tutors

Dr Antonia Wood

Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer

Toni joined the University of Salford as a PhD student and was awarded her Phd in 2015. She is the programme leader for the suite of Sociology and Criminology undergraduate programmes, and alongside this has taught and led modules on both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. 

Toni’s PhD explored the working lives of female prison officers and she continues to research in this area, currently focusing on prison staff experiences of menopause in the prison. Toni is interested in PhD supervision around prison officers and the wider field of prison and prisoners. 

Professor Muzammil Quraishi, PhD

Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Muzammil has been teaching criminology and criminal justice for over 20 years, having joined the University of Salford in 2002. He is a critical criminologist with expertise in examining Muslim populations and their experiences of victimisation, crime, and incarceration. His teaching includes investigating homicide, criminal justice processes, imprisonment, and criminological theory.

He has published extensively in his field, with his latest publications examining the experiences of Muslim prison officers and conversion to Islam in prison.

He has provided consultancy to a range of criminal justice institutions and organisations including Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Ministry of Justice (UK), and the European Parliament. He is a co-investigator on a large-scale social-action research project based at Cardiff University examining training and education on Islam for staff and incarcerated people in the UK and USA.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

Key career pathways for graduates (and professionals joining the programme) include:

  • Criminal justice specific roles
  • Project officer and project manager roles
  • Support staff and development roles
  • Research and policy development roles
  • Management and leadership roles
  • Teaching, training, and lecturing roles


These opportunities exist within the following sectors/organisation types:

  • Criminal justice organisations at a local and national level including prisons, police, courts, probation, and restorative justice
  • Criminal justice campaign groups
  • Local government organisations
  • Third/community sector organisations working within the criminal justice system and/or supporting individuals who encounter the system, exploring themes such as:
    • Political organisations (including lobby groups, think tanks, and policy developers)
    • Universities and related education organisations

Additionally, we encourage high-achieving students to apply for funding to pursue doctoral study either at the University of Salford or beyond.

Career Links

This programme has emerged out of sustained engagement with key institutions and organisations engaged in the criminal justice system in the UK and beyond.

The teaching team has extensive experience working with organisations such as Greater Manchester Police, the National Crime Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Cybercrime Unit in Manchester, the Youth Justice Board, the Prison Governors Association (PGA), Victim Support, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service, including HQ and the Muslim Advisor's Office. Additionally, partnerships include the Ministry of Justice in Portugal, the Sharjah Police in the UAE, the Prisons Justice Initiative, Georgetown University in Washington DC, and the Islamic Law Department at UKM, Malaysia. 

Research and partnerships with these organisations will inform programme development and delivery. Workshops will draw extensively on key policies and the experiences of these key stakeholders. Throughout the programme, live briefs and real-world scenarios will be used to introduce you to the key dilemmas relevant to the sector, ensuring that all learning has an applied practical focus. 

You can also opt to undertake an applied project for your dissertation, which can be developed in consultation with a key partner. 

Further study

If this programme develops your passion for understanding criminology and the criminal justice system and you want to extend this into doctoral study, the programme team will support you in developing a PhD proposal and explore routes to funding. Visit our Doctoral School page to find out more. 


What you need to know

Applicant profile

This programme is designed for those who have some previous engagement with criminology and the social sciences and those who have none. 

For those with a background in social sciences or related subjects, this course will tighten and deepen your research skills and develop your knowledge and understanding of the processes and challenges of the criminal justice system. It will support you to develop an appreciation of the ways in which the criminal justice system intersects with people’s lives and, in doing so, help you understand how you can play a part in the sector supporting people. 

Likewise, this course is ideal for individuals who are currently working in policy, research, or officer roles in the sector already. This course also sets you up well for PhD study or promotion. It is likely that you have a background in social sciences or humanities, but this is not essential – the course is designed to support those with the commitment and curiosity needed for postgraduate study, regardless of their undergraduate study. 

Open-mindedness, a willingness to give things a go, self-starter qualities, and curiosity about the world and how to explore it are the core attributes needed. 

Standard entry requirements

Undergraduate degree

A lower second-class (2:2) or above in an undergraduate degree is required.

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 6.0) is proof of this.

If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our Pre-sessional English course.

Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully. 

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course. 

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: The Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). 

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 6.0) is proof of this.

If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our Pre-sessional English course.

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,100.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £17,000.00per year
Part-time 2025/26 Part-time costs will be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Apply now

All set? let's apply

Still have some questions? Register for one of our Open Days or contact our course enquiries team:

By email:
By phone: +44 (0)161 295 4545

Enrolment dates

September 2025

September 2026