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University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education: Applied Criminology, Penology and Management

InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
Department University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
Study type Taught


Our Master of Studies (MSt.) programme in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management is a part-time, two-year programme that equips senior leaders, and future leaders, in criminal justice with skills and knowledge to reflect on existing policy and practice and build towards better practice in their respective fields of work.

Developed originally in the 1990s, in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS), our M.St. programme has since broadened to welcome criminal justice professionals from probation and community justice, the voluntary and third sectors, and the legal community and allied professions such as psychologists and psychiatrists. We now also welcome colleagues beyond England and Wales, including especially from Scotland, Ireland, and further afield, for example, from Scandinavia, South Africa, the USA and Latin America. We take an inclusive approach to recruitment, which focuses on candidates’ motivations, skills, experience and potential. We warmly welcome applications to study from people who may have little previous experience of formal education, as well as people who have lived experience of criminal justice involvement or supervision, and we have modest bursary provision available to support students who are self-funding their studies.

The content of our course reflects the diversity of the socio-political, professional and educational backgrounds of our students. We aim to equip students with cutting-edge knowledge of criminological theory and research, and provide high levels of academic support so that students can develop independent research skills to locate, interpret, analyse and evaluate research, and explore and apply it in their work as senior criminal justice professionals, including through an independent research dissertation in the second year of the course. Through an intensive programme of six, two-week residential blocks in Cambridge, across two years of study, students are introduced to key criminological concepts, including legitimacy, compliance, desistance and deterrence, key criminal justice policy and practice debates, and key methodological skills, including qualitative and quantitative approaches, ethics, action and insider research. Ideas are explored sociologically ‘in context’, with course content designed to provoke reflection on some of the most urgent current challenges in criminal justice, including by reference to long-standing, ongoing debates and empirical knowledge in the field. We encourage students to think differently and broadly – historically, comparatively, and across the criminal justice system as a whole – about the contemporary nature and experience of criminal justice theory, policy and practice.


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