Criminology & Criminal Justice Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What are Criminology & Criminal Justice?

While criminology is the study of crime and criminal justice describes the societal response to crime. Criminal justice refers to the system by which justice is dispensed to those who have committed a crime. The criminal justice system is comprised of multiple components that enforce laws, investigate crimes, try and punish criminals, and rehabilitate those who are convicted.

Criminologists research, study, analyze and advise on all aspects of deviant human behavior, from the cause of crimes to their consequences. The study of criminology informs our understanding of how, why, when, and where crimes occur and suggest policies and procedures respond and prevent it

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Criminology & Criminal Justice courses in the following subject areas:

  • Criminology – Gain the knowledge and skills of contemporary criminological issues as well as thorough training in research skills.
  • Criminal Justice and Criminology – The study of criminal justice and criminology and the various challenges of professions within the justice system.
  • Diploma in Criminology & Criminal Psychology – Gain a basic understanding of various fields of Criminology (the scientific study of crime) and Forensic Psychology from a historical, contemporary, and progressive perspective.
  • Criminology (QQI Level 5) – This Criminology course is suitable for those interested in the study of crime, the causes of crime, types of crime, punishment, crime prevention, and the fear of crime.
  • Forensic Psychology and Criminology – Learn about the processes and practices that are used to catch criminals and gain a better understanding of what crime is, why it occurs and how it is managed in today’s society.
  • MA In Social Policy and Criminology – Gain the skills and knowledge for a career in Social Policy and Criminology.
  • Criminal Justice – Gain the knowledge and skills necessary for effective management within the Irish criminal justice system.

Studying Criminology & Criminal Justice in college

There are many Criminology & Criminal Justice courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or volunteer work with offenders, criminal justice agencies, social work and community education departments, and victims of crime. Specific roles include prison visiting, working as a special constable, and involvement in drug treatment schemes or youth/bail hostels for young offenders.

Think about the group or the environment you are interested in working with and how you could get involved with local support groups or projects. Narrowing down your preferences will allow you to focus on specific employers and voluntary organizations.

Employers value work experience and work experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Criminology & Criminal Justice you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of law and justice.

There are many different types of jobs available in the criminology and criminal justice sector and they often overlap between the two. For example, a forensic psychologist can be said to work in both criminology and criminal justice because they study and observe criminal behavior and are often also instrumental in investigating crimes, profiling criminals, and offering insight to trial preparation and jury selection. 

Police officers and detectives and investigators are integral components of the criminal justice system, as are corrections officers, wardens, and probation officers. Jobs and careers can range from a police dispatcher in a municipality to a position with the government. 

Working hours will depend on the sector you go into and the position you choose and will vary greatly. For office or laboratory-based positions, the hours are usually full-time and will likely be shift work. For fieldwork, you should expect to work some evenings and weekends as shift work is common and crime never sleeps.

Opportunities exist in the private sector, for example in private security and in law practices where hours may be more standard office hours for some positions.

Related jobs include:

  • Loss Prevention Officer
  • Private Investigator
  • Correctional Officer
  • Jury Consultant
  • Probation Officer
  • Police Detective
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Civil service administrator
  • Community development worker
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Detective
  • Probation officer
  • Social worker
  • Youth worker
  • Adult guidance worker
  • Border Force officer
  • Charity officer
  • Counselor
  • Housing manager/officer
  • Local government officer
  • Paralegal
  • Political risk analyst
  • Social researcher

Further study

After completing a course in Criminology & Criminal Justice you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as social work, teaching, and law conversion courses.

Some students choose to progress to Master’s Courses, including MAs in criminology or criminal justice. These courses enhance your subject knowledge, possibly to go on to further academic research.


What skills would be beneficial for a career in Criminology & Criminal Justice?

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills will be very useful if you are interested in a career in Criminal Justice. You should also have a good ability to collect, analyze and interpret data and enjoy report writing. You should have an interest in generating and evaluating evidence and the ability to make reasoned arguments and ethical judgments.

Also, consider your more general skills in areas such as research, IT, time management, and the ability to work productively both in a group and individually.

Where can I study Criminology & Criminal Justice?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· The Chicago Tribune conducted a study and found certain crimes increase when the temperatures are higher, but the rate of some crimes decreases once the weather cools. Crimes occurring most often during hot days include assault, shootings, theft, and vandalism. The study concluded warm temperatures have little effect on homicide or drug-related crimes.

· Police have the right to confiscate belongings, anything from cash to cars if they believe it involved illegal procurement.

· In 2009 a study revealed uncommon male names correlate with crime rates. The statistics come from a list of more than 15,000 names of people involved with a crime. According to the study, Michael “was the least likely name to have an association with juvenile delinquency,” whereas Tyrell had a much lower rating on the point scale, and thus could more likely have a connection to juvenile crime.

· Less than 5% of the global population lives in the United States, but the country has more than 20% of the world’s prison population. The US tends to heavily prosecute minor offenses with long sentences compared to other countries that don’t deem similar crimes prison-worthy.

Mariza Halliday

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