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How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation in Criminology

How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation in Criminology

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This book provides a guide for undergraduate criminology and criminal justice students undertaking their final-year dissertation. It speaks to the specific challenges for criminology students who may wish to research closed institutions (such as prisons, courts, or the police) or vulnerable populations (such as people with convictions, victims of crime, or young people), and offers guidance on how to undertake research on these topics whilet avoiding many of the access and ethical obstacles.

It takes students through each phase of the dissertation, from designing and planning the research to writing up and presenting the completed work. The complexities of undertaking research on sensitive topics and with criminal justice institutions are discussed throughout, offering an insight into some of the challenges that students may be faced with and suggestions to overcome obstacles. It offers practical guidance for empirical and library-based projects and provides students with suggested resources for accessing primary and secondary data. It utilises a mixture of worked examples, top tips, practical strategies, and student activities to ensure the dissertation is a manageable and enjoyable process.

This book will be beneficial to all undergraduate criminology students who have to undertake either a library-based or empirical dissertation. The examples and activities in the book will also be useful for dissertation supervisors who can use them to support their dissertation students. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter | 2  pages, introduction, chapter chapter 1 | 13  pages, what is a dissertation, chapter chapter 2 | 15  pages, designing your criminology dissertation, chapter chapter 3 | 11  pages, access and ethical issues in criminology dissertations, chapter chapter 4 | 17  pages, literature reviews, chapter chapter 5 | 16  pages, utilising secondary data, chapter chapter 6 | 13  pages, collecting primary data, chapter chapter 7 | 10  pages, writing a methodology chapter, chapter chapter 8 | 13  pages, findings and discussion, chapter chapter 9 | 13  pages, writing up and presenting your dissertation.

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We are pleased to post a selection of theses which have been given marks of distinction. Please note that it is not always possible to post theses of a confidential nature or if they include sensitive data. In some instances, sensitive data may have been removed.

We thank those who have given permission and request those reading them to respect their intellectual property.

Sortable Table

Author Year Title Download
Anonymous by request 2009 Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy: An examination of the process-based model in understanding what influences suspect perceptions
Nall, A 2017 The Identification & Ranking of Organised Crime Groups and Members: Combining the Crime Harm Index (CHI) and Social Network Analysis (SNA)
Antoine, B 2016 The Rise and Fall of Hotspots of Homicide in the Port-of-Spain Division: changes over time in characteristics of murder
Bardsley, G 2021 Can Crime and Detections be counted differently: Demonstrating the Cambridge Consensus Statement for Counting Crime and Detections in Devon & Cornwall
Barnham, L 2016 Targeting Perpetrators of Partner Abuse in Thames valley: a two year follow up of crime harm escalation
Beutgen, A 2019 Swedish police officers’ views of selected evidence-based policing research findings
Bitters, F 2021 Children on Child Protection Plans: Are the Police Missing Opportunities to Intervene Earlier and Failing to Prevent Future Harm?
Bland, M 2014 Targetting Escalation in Common Domestic Abuse: How Much if Any?
Bolduc, M 2024 Are Police Agencies in Quebec, Canada, Ready to Integrate Actuarial Forecasting Models? An Exploratory Study About the Suspects’ Releasing Decision-Making Process of Sûreté du Quebec Officers
Bradley, K 2024 Do Trauma-Informed Investigation Teams in One Hospital Increase Detection, Reduce Repeat Victimisation, and Reduce Recidivism: A Comparative Study
Calder, S 2024 Serious Further Offence Reviews: Understanding the Perceptions of Probation Practitioners and Decision-Makers
Carden, R 2012 Car Key Burglaries: An Exploratory Analysis
Chalkley, R. 2015 Predicting serious domestic assaults and murder in Dorset
Chilton, S. 2011 Randomised Controlled Trial using Conditional Cautioning as a response to Domestic Abuse
Clark, B 2021 Reassurance Contacts by Local Police Officers with Victims of Vehicle Crime and Cycle Theft: A Block Randomised Control Trial
Clark, D 2015 Tracking the victims of Boiler-room Fraud – Citizens at risk!
Cornelius, N 2015 Perceptions of domestic abuse victims to police disposals post-arrest by conditional caution, simple caution or no further action
Cowan, D 2018 What is the context of police and court diversion in Victoria and what opportunities exist for increasing police diversion of offenders?
De Brito, C 2016 Will Providing Tracking Feedback on Hot Spot Patrols Affect the Amount of Patrol Dosage Delivered?
Donohoe, C 2024 Identifying children at risk of committing serious violence
Drover, P 2014 Leading and Testing Body worn Video in Wolverhampton
Etheridge, P 2015 An Exploratory Study of the Application of the Cambridge Harm Index (CHI) to Crime Data in South Yorkshire
Foster, J 2020 'An Exploratory Study of How Practitioners in UK Fire and Rescue Services Working with Children and Young People Who Set Fires Identify Clients Requiring Psychosocial Interventions'
Giles, E 2020 Resettlement: a postcode lottery? An exploratory study of the geographical and socioeconomic factors impacting desistance from crime
Gordon, J 2022 Targeting High-Harm Victim-Offenders for Offender Management to Reduce Harm: A BCU-Level Analysis
Hale, J 2024 Tracking Crime Harm by Phone Numbers of Customers of Drug Dealers: Analysing Changes from Before to After Arrest of Drug Dealers
Hallworth, J 2016 'County Lines': and Exploratory analysis of migrating drug gang offenders in North Essex
Henstock, D 2015 Testing the effects of body-born video on police use of force during arrest: a randomised controlled trial
Hobday, J 2014 TARGETING REASONS FOR REJECTING RANDOM ASSIGNMENT IN AN RCT
Hodgkinson, W 2021 Comparing Two Different Alarm Systems for High-Risk Domestic Abuse Victims: A Randomised Controlled Trial
Jackson, M 2010 Murder Concentration and Distribution Patterns in London An Exploratory Analysis of Ten Years of Data
Jackman, R 2015 Measuring harm in a cohort of sex offenders in Norfolk
Jarman, R. 2012 Could conditional cautions be used as a suitable intervention for certain cases
Jones, A. 2016 Tracking Investigative Outcomes of Sexual offences in British Transport Police by the Medium of reporting
Keating, R 2022 Managing High-Risk Suspects In Custody: A Legal and Operational Analysis
Knight, C 2022 Mapping public place reported crime and harm against women and girls
Kruger, S 2023 Exploring Persistence and Barriers to Desistance for Young Offenders in Isiolo, Kenya
Langley, B. 2013 A randomised control trial comparing the effects of procedural justice to experienced utility theories in airport security stops
Lawes, D. 2014 Targeting Traffic Enforcement with a Collision Harm Index: A Descriptive Study in the City Of London
Lay, W 2021 Reducing Repeat Harm: Forecasting high-harm victims for prevention and protection
Leggetter, M 2021 Implementing a Hot Spot Targeting Alarm System A Participant Observation Case Study
Lekare, A 2024 Exploring common risk factors associated with shootings with lethal outcomes in street gang milieus in Sweden
Macbeth, E. 2015 Evidence-Based vs Experience-Based Targeting of Crime and Harm Hotspots in Northern Ireland
McAuliffe, K 2024 'Frequency and Harm: An Exploratory Analysis of Missing Children'
McDonagh, R 2022 The changing profile of Modern Slavery crime: Tracking outcomes in Investigations by the Metropolitan Police 2016 – 2021
McKee, J. 2021 Testing the effects of delivering procedural justice by reassurance telephone calls to victims of screened out vehicle crime: evidence from a randomised controlled trial
Nethercott, C. 2020 ‘Life on the Book’ (The lived experience of the high-risk, category A prisoner)
Olphin, T. 2014 Solving Violent Crime: Targeting Factors that Predict Clearance of Non-Domestic Violent Offences
Ottaro, P 2024 Targeting Hot Spots and Harm Spots in a Mass Transit System in Canada: A Tale of the City of Edmonton
Paine, C. 2012 Solvability Factors in Dwelling Burglaries in Thames Valley
Parkinson, J. 2012 Managing Police Performance in England and Wales: Intended and Unintended Consequences
Platz, D. 2016 The Impact of a value education programme in a police recruit training academy: a randomised trial.
Pugh, M 2022 Criminal Records of Persons Stopped and Searched on Suspicion of Drug Crimes: A Racial Disparity Analysis
Ralph, M 2022 Tracking Stalking for High Harm Outcomes: A 365-Day Follow-up Analysis
Routledge , G 2015 A Protocol and Phase I Experimental Trial: The Checkpoint Desistance Programme in Durham
Ross, N 2022 A descriptive study of harm levels among registered sex offenders over four years following conviction
Rowland, J 2012 What happens after arrest for Domestic Abuse: A Prospective Longitudinal Analysis of over 2,200 Cases
Rowlinson, T 2015 An An Observational Process Study of a Short Programme for lower-risk Domestic Abuse Offenders under Conditional Caution in the Hampshire CARA Experiment
Scott, C 2015 Patterns and Concentrations of Risk in Reported Police Pursuit Incidents in New Zealand
Seif, J 2022 The Effects of a Cadet Training Component on Police Attitudes: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Sharp, S 2016 Pickpocketing on The Railway: Targeting solvable cases
Sloan, A 2020 The pursuit of cohesion: An exploratory study of the values of, and relationship between, Heads of Security and Heads of Safety in prisons
Smith, C 2016 A Case Control Analysis of Offenders Issued with Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPOs) in Hertfordshire
Stephens, R 2024 A study using Situation Action Theory (SAT) to explore prisoner violence in High Security Prisons
Stevens, I 2024 Exploring the concept of 'the Third Place' in prison
Thompson, I 2016 The Impact of Procedural Justice Training on First Year Constables' Interactions with Citizens: an RCT
Thornton, S 2011 Predicting Serious Domestic Assaults and Murder in the Thames Valley
Urwin, S 2016 Algorithmic Forecasting of Offender Dangerousness for Police Custody Officers
Vo, Quoc Thanh 2015 6000 Cases of Missing and Absent Persons: Patterns of Crime Harm and Priorities for Resource Allocation
Weems, J 2013 Testing PCSO Cocooning of Near Repeat Burglary Locations
Whinney, A 2015 A descriptive analysis of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) for reducing the future harm of domestic abuse in Suffolk
Whiting, M 2014 Police Organisational Cultures and Inter-force Collaboration
Williams, S 2015 Do visits or time spent in hot spots patrol matter most? A randomised controlled trial in West Midland Police
Wright, M 2021 Tracking the Accuracy of Assessing High Risk Offenders for Intimate Partner Violence: A Ten-Year Analysis
Young, J 2014 Implementation of a Randomized Controlled Trial in Ventura, California- A Body-Worn Video Camera Experiment
Zimmermann, B 2011 Educational Level of Law Enforcement Officers and Frequency of Citizen Complaints: A Systematic Review

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Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2024-2025

Module SOCI41160: Dissertation in Sociology/Criminology

Department: sociology, soci41160: dissertation in sociology/criminology.

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2024/2025 Module Cap
Tied to L3KF09
Tied to L3KC09

Prerequisites

Corequisites, excluded combination of modules.

  • The purpose of the dissertation is to give students the opportunity to work on a suitable subject of their own choice and to utilise the techniques developed in the research modules. An MSc dissertation is designed to assess a student's ability to define a researchable thesis in the light of past and current academic research. Students need to demonstrate a capacity for independent thought and to use their critical and analytical abilities, including the use of appropriate research methods, in the interpretation of a substantial quantity of relevant material (empirical and theoretical). Further, they need to be able to write up the results of any research carried out in an extended and coherent form, paying close attention to matters of structure in addition to normal expectations regarding referencing and bibliographic information.
  • A supervised research project

Learning Outcomes

  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of existing scholarship in their chosen field of study.
  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of alternative ways of approaching a research question in sociology and/or criminology;
  • Have demonstrated handling research methods and tools, analysing data and communicating results, and/or a sophisticated grasp of the theoretical and policy issues related to the chosen topic;
  • Where empirical work is involved to have demonstrated an awareness of ethical issues in social research, and, where relevant, of the importance of reflexivity about their own role as researcher.
  • Have demonstrated self-direction and originality in tackling and solving sociological/criminological/criminal justice research questions;
  • Have worked autonomously (under the direction of their supervisor) in planning, executing, analysing and writing-up a piece of criminological research;
  • Have demonstrated independent learning ability, the exercise of initiative and skills in written communication.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be receive one to one supervision with a member of academic staff for a total of six hours over the year.
  • Students will also have the opportunity to take part in two dissertation workshops and master classes.
  • Assessment will be by one summative dissertation.
  • Formative assessment includes individual feedback on one draft chapter. Further formative support will be given through verbal feedback during the dissertation poster workshop, dissertation master-class workshop and one-to-one supervision.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 6 1 hour 6
Group Workshops 2 1 hour 2
Preparation/Reading/Fieldwork 592
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 15000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One draft chapter. Poster outlining the dissertation research for dissertation poster workshop.

■ Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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Criminology: Skills and Training

bcu criminology dissertation

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In addition to your course, the Library offers online resources, courses and workshops to help you develop your information literacy.

Tutorials with your specialist librarian

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Susan O'Sullivan is the Librarian supporting Criminology . Susan offers tutorials either face-to-face or online via MS Teams.

Book a tutorial

Online courses and resources

Information skills for foundation and first year students.

During year one, you are expected to be able to identify, locate and evaluate the different resources and types of sources appropriate to their area of study and construct a search strategy using discipline specific keywords and search techniques in the ethical use of information.

This page contains resources that will help you build the information skills required to meet the information literacy learning outcomes for year 1 or level 4. Check the Library learning programme for year two, three and postgraduate students.

Information skills

Navigating the Library: Foundations of Academic Research

The Foundations of Academic Research course (Moodle) is designed for new and level four students or people returning to higher education.

The course objective is to help you:

  • Discover library services and support
  • Identify, locate and evaluate resources and sources
  • Construct a search strategy using keywords related to the built environment
  • Use effective search techniques
  • Get personalised support.

Foundations of Academic Research (Moodle)

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  • Last Updated: Jul 1, 2024 4:33 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.bcu.ac.uk/criminology

Research Ethics

All those engaged with research have a duty to consider how the work they undertake, host or support, impacts on the research community and on wider society (UUK Concordat to Support Research Integrity, 2019).

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Ensuring research is conducted ethically

Faculty-based research ethics committees are responsible for reviewing ethics applications in order to ensure that adequate consideration has been given to the ethical aspects of a research project, thus reducing the potential for harm and increasing the benefit of participants.

Faculty ethics committees will assess whether the research proposed can be considered ethical, i.e. whether:

  • The research is justified, i.e. whether it is likely to add to the existing knowledge base;
  • It is of sufficient standard – including whether the researchers are qualified to carry out the roles proposed in the research proposal;
  • The risk it poses is outweighed by the potential benefits of the research;
  • The research appears to comply with all statutory and necessary guidance, including insurance coverage;
  • Data management and handling appear to comply with the relevant legislation (data protection laws) and guidance (e.g. Research Governance Framework, NHS Code of Practice on Confidentiality or the NHS Care Records Guarantee).

Our requirements

All projects conducted by university staff or students must receive approval by their relevant faculty ethics committee prior to commencing.  

Research funded by external parties must receive approval in principle by their relevant faculty ethics committee prior to submitting the bid.

Research conducted with BCU staff, students, data, sites, or other resources must receive Permission Of Access from the relevant person with managerial responsibility for that area.

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You can access more information by accessing one of the designated iCity page below. 

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More information about research ethics:

If you have an enquiry about research ethics at BCU and need to contact a member of our ethics team, you can do so via  [email protected] 

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COMMENTS

  1. Research databases

    Criminology: Research databases This guide brings together key resources to help you find information relating to criminology courses. Research databases cover multiple disciplines and sources, providing a comprehensive collection of scholarly literature.

  2. Criminology

    Our BA (Hons) Criminology course is supported by our close links with local criminal justice organisations in the voluntary, public, and private sectors, including West Midlands Police Force. Make sense of the world of criminal justice by getting the big picture perspective on crime, punishment and victimisation.

  3. PDF Module Specification

    submission of the dissertation - hence the MA dissertation in Criminology and Security Studies is an academic guided learning process When students have identified their field of interest (often during the Research Methods module) and a ... BCU Module Specification V1.01 2018/19 16/10/18 programmes. Furthermore, the programmes overarching aims ...

  4. Criminology: E-books and books

    Looking for other books on the real or virtual shelves is another way to discover interesting titles. Look for the shelf marks corresponding to related topics. Online you can browse and search the e-book collections BCU has subscribed. Finding books on shelf e-books

  5. PDF Course Specification

    BCU Course Specification US0655 BA (Hons) Criminology, Policing and Investigation V1.04 20/05/2021 11 Course Learning Outcomes Knowledge and Understanding 1. The multidisciplinary underpinnings of the discipline of Criminology and recognise how these underpinnings change across the core curriculum topic areas; how the central tenets of

  6. PDF Course Specification

    BCU Course Specification US0682 BA (Hons) Criminology V1.05 20/05/2021 ... 1 Course Title BA (Hons) Criminology 2 BCU Course Code UCAS Code US0682 M900 3 Awarding Institution Birmingham City University 4 Teaching Institution(s) ... CRI6088 Dissertation / Live Project / Placement 40 CRI6093 Human Rights: Theory and Practice 20 ...

  7. Postgraduate Criminology Degrees

    Birmingham City University's School of Social Sciences has a mission to make sense of the world. Our students and academics work together across disciplines to develop insights into society. We're focused on everything from understanding crime and punishment to the study of all aspects of psychology and the exploration of social structures ...

  8. Criminology

    Martin Glynn. Criminologist, Doctoral Student, Lecturer. Martin is a criminologist with over 25 years' experience of working in prisons and schools. He has a Cert. Ed, a Master's degree in criminal justice policy and practice, and is currently doing his PhD at Birmingham City University where he is also a visiting lecturer.

  9. Subject Guides: Criminology: Databases and journals

    This guide brings together key resources to help you find information relating to criminology courses. Databases and journals give you access to the latest information on your subject. Most journals are now available electronically and are found via library search and direct from databases.

  10. PDF Module Specification

    BCU Module Specification V1.01 2018/19 14/09/18 7 Module Learning Outcomes On successful completion of the module , students will be able to: 1 Demonstrate an understanding of the core schools of criminological thought and the central tenets of each paradigm, including their contemporary relevance and applications.

  11. Subject Guides: Criminology: Key databases

    This guide brings together key resources to help you find information relating to criminology courses. ... BCU Libraries. Curzon. School of Art. Mary Seacole. School of Jewellery. ... book chapters and theses & dissertations, including some with full-text links, on psychology, psychiatry, mental health and the social sciences.

  12. How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation in Criminology

    This book provides a guide for undergraduate criminology and criminal justice students undertaking their final-year dissertation. It speaks to the specific challenges for criminology students who may wish to research closed institutions (such as prisons, courts, or the police) or vulnerable populations (such as people with convictions, victims of crime, or young people), and offers guidance on ...

  13. Thesis Database

    2014. Implementation of a Randomized Controlled Trial in Ventura, California- A Body-Worn Video Camera Experiment. Download. Zimmermann, B. 2011. Educational Level of Law Enforcement Officers and Frequency of Citizen Complaints: A Systematic Review. Download. We are pleased to post a selection of theses which have been given marks of distinction.

  14. Welcome

    This guide brings together key resources to help you find information relating to criminology courses. You will find information about: Key databases and books; Support and skills sessions; Details for how to contact us; If you'd like to book a tutorial, visit the Contact Your Librarians page.

  15. Subject Guides: Open Access: Theses and Dissertations

    Open Access: Theses and Dissertations This guide brings together key resources to help you to discover open access academic publications that can be read online and used for learning, teaching and research.

  16. Criminology and Sociology Staff

    Lecturer in Criminology, Course Leader - Sociology and Criminology with a Foundation Year. Liam Brolan is Lecturer in Criminology and 1 st Year tutor at Birmingham City University. Having completed both a BA (Hons) and MA in Criminology at Birmingham City University, Liam joined the department as a member of staff in 2014, working as a Visiting ...

  17. Criminology at the School of Social Sciences

    Birmingham City University's School of Social Sciences has a mission to make sense of the world. Our students and academics work together across disciplines to develop insights into society. We're focused on everything from understanding crime and punishment to the study of all aspects of psychology and the exploration of social structures ...

  18. Module SOCI41160: Dissertation in Sociology/Criminology

    An MSc dissertation is designed to assess a student's ability to define a researchable thesis in the light of past and current academic research. Students need to demonstrate a capacity for independent thought and to use their critical and analytical abilities, including the use of appropriate research methods, in the interpretation of a ...

  19. Psychology with Criminology

    This is a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited Psychology course with Criminology as a minor subject. Every semester you will study 2 Psychology and 1 Criminology module. You will also have the opportunity take a year-long professional placement. Our innovative Psychology with Criminology course will give you a deep understanding of ...

  20. Open Access: Welcome

    Open access logo, originally designed by Public Library of Science. There are many open access scholarly publications such as journals, articles, books and theses that you can freely access. We created this guide to help you to discover open access academic publications that can be read online and used for learning, teaching and research.

  21. Sociology and Criminology

    Our BA (Hons) Sociology and Criminology degree is a radical and practical course; theoretically driven and empirically informed, as well as locally situated and globally focused. Studying Sociology at Birmingham City University is about not reading sociology but doing sociology, allowing you to explore and question social norms and discover the ...

  22. Criminology: Skills and Training

    Information skills for foundation and first year students. During year one, you are expected to be able to identify, locate and evaluate the different resources and types of sources appropriate to their area of study and construct a search strategy using discipline specific keywords and search techniques in the ethical use of information.

  23. Research Ethics

    More information about research ethics: If you have an enquiry about research ethics at BCU and need to contact a member of our ethics team, you can do so via [email protected]. Central and faculty-based Research Ethics Committees ensure reasearch at Birmingham Cit University is conducted within ethical guidelines.