The LLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice is designed for those who wish to pursue a career in criminal justice, policy work, or further research in the area.
This masters programme aims to provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the key concepts and theories underpinning criminal law and criminal justice and how they operate in practice. It will cover the following core areas of criminal law and criminal justice:
- current issues and contemporary debates in criminal law and criminal justice;
- fundamental principles of substantive and procedural criminal law;
- international, transnational and European criminal law;
- sexual offending;
- global crime and insecurity;
- the penal process; and
- different approaches to understanding and critiquing criminal laws and criminal justice, including doctrinal, comparative, theoretical and socio-legal methods
Why study criminal law and criminal justice?
Criminal law and criminal justice underpin many contemporary debates in today’s society, such as the legality of assisted dying, the detention and punishment of individuals under recent terrorism legislation, and the treatment and punishment of sex offenders. These are crosscutting debates that resonate across jurisdictions.
The LLM would be useful to students who intend to enter a career in criminal justice, e.g. as a legal practitioner with a focus on criminal law, or as a member of the police, prison or probation services. It also provides a career development opportunity for those already working in these fields.
The LLM can also provide a grounding for students who would like to engage in policy work related to criminal law and justice, e.g. as a member of the civil service, a non-governmental organisation or a law reform body.
Finally, the LLM would provide a strong basis for future postgraduate research, such as doctoral study, in the areas of doctrinal or theoretical criminal law, criminal justice, or social policy.
This programme can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years It offers a wide range of subjects that deal with various aspects of private law from a comparative perspective, with the possibility of choosing additional courses so as to enable you to tailor the LLM to meet your specific interests.
The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. Full programme details are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.
You must take these courses:
- Current Issues in Criminal Law (20 credits)
This course examines current issues, debates and trends in criminal law. It introduces you to important developments in criminal law and the criminal process; to the controversies and debates surrounding these developments; and to the broader changes that they represent in the criminal justice field. The course begins by exploring questions of criminalisation: the changing scope of the criminal law, and debates over what conduct should and should not be made criminal. It then turns to examine developments in the law relating to criminal procedure and evidence; and finally to sentencing and other consequences of criminal conviction. The precise content of the course will change year on year, in response to new developments. However, at least some topics from each of these areas will be covered in any given academic year.
- General Principles of Criminal Law (20 credits)
This course examines the general principles of the substantive criminal law. It focuses in particular on three areas of criminal law doctrine. First, it examines criminal conduct: the kinds of action, omission and harmful results for which one may be held criminally responsible. Second, it examines criminal culpability: intentional and unintentional forms of fault, and the possibility of criminal liability without fault. And third, it examines criminal defences: justifying and excusing factors that defeat criminal liability. Throughout, the course also considers the application of these principles to problematic cases, and to particular areas of the law (such as the law of homicide).
In examining these issues, the course does not adopt the perspective of any single jurisdiction. Rather, it adopts a more general approach: examining issues that arise across different legal systems and traditions, and across different areas of the criminal law. To shed light on these issues, the course also introduces students to insights from comparative and theoretical criminal law scholarship.
You must select between 40 and 80 credits of the following courses:
- Criminal Justice and Penal Process (20 credits)
This course aims to provide students with critical insight of the institutions of criminal justice and to introduce some of the relevant policy frameworks, dilemmas and debates. The jurisdictions of Scotland and England and Wales will serve as the primary model for discussions, but an international, comparative approach is considered throughout. The course also has the aim of providing opportunities for students to practice the research skills necessary to explore and critically assess academic and policy research which informs current criminal justice approaches. Students will have the opportunity to observe criminal courts in action and to carry out their own observations on criminal justice processes. By the end of this course students should be able to describe the conceptual functioning of criminal justice and penal institutions; critically analyse these institutions and explain the rationale of key developments in policy and practice.
- Global Crime and Insecurity (20 credits)
The focus of the course is the definition, explanation and interpretation of global forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. This is tackled in a structure which examines issues of categorisation and definition first, before exploring a range of contexts in which crime and criminality may be researched, then examining particular forms of crime and finishing with questions of measurement and interpretation.
The course focus is on policy and legal responses to international and global forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. This is tackled in a structure which examines issues a range of different policing, judicial and regulatory frameworks, with attention paid in each of these sessions to the underlying logic of the approach. Following this, various mechanisms through and contexts in which criminal justice policy might spread are examined. The course finishes with a case study of money laundering, but depending on the availability of staff, this could be replaced with any substantive crime issue which allows students the opportunity to draw together a number of the issues raised in earlier sessions.
- International Criminal Law (20 credits)
This course focuses on the study of selected foundational aspects of international and transnational criminal law and international co-operation in the administration of justice.
- Mental Health and Crime (20 credits)
The aim of this course is to examine the relationship between mental health and crime and explore issues relating to the appropriate treatment of mentally disordered offenders in the criminal justice system. Different forms of mental disorder will be analysed (including psychotic illnesses, personality disorders and the mental health problems associated with substance misuse) and their links to crime evaluated.
Key objectives are also: to trace the history and development of mental health law; to explore the nature of criminal justice and other disposals for mentally disordered offenders and to assess the nature and limits of offender profiling.
A visit will be arranged to a medium secure unit located in Edinburgh, where students will meet staff and patients and gain an insight into clinical practice and the day-to-day running of a medium secure institution. The course will conclude with a mock trial in which students will act as prosecution, defence agents and jury and staff as judge, defender and expert witnesses.
- Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity (20 credits)
The focus of the course is on legal, political and policy responses to international and transnational forms of crime, insecurity and injustice. The course is delivered in two sections focusing first on transnational forms of organised crime and secondly on atrocity crime (broadly, those defined by international criminal law). A final session looks for contrasts and connections between these two parts.
- Sexual Offending and the Law (20 credits)
This course will examine contemporary approaches to the law of sexual offences in comparative perspective. Topics to be covered will include the definition of rape, the age of consent, the proper extent of criminalisation of consensual sexual conduct, evidential issues in the proof of sexual offences. The closing seminars of the course will bring these issues together by examining how law reform bodies in a variety of different jurisdictions have addressed the challenges they pose.
Optional course (Everyone 20 credits)
Fundamental Issues in International Law
International Environmental Law
Criminal Justice and Penal Process
Contract Law in Europe
Mental Health and Crime
Law and the Enlightenment
Intellectual Property Law 1: Copyright and Related Rights
Intellectual Property Law 2: Industrial Property
International Investment Law
International Law of the Sea
Law of E-Commerce
The legal challenges of information technologies
International Intellectual Property System
Data Protection and Information Privacy
International Private Law: Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments
Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law
International Commercial Arbitration (one semester)
The Anatomy of Public Law
EU Competition Law
International Criminal Law (one semester)
Inter-state Conflict and Humanitarian Law
The Law of International Trade
International Law of the Marine Environment
Delict and Tort
Comparative and International Trust law
International Climate Change Law
Sexual Offending and the Law
Comparative Corporate Governance
Corporation Law and Economics
Regulation of international Finance: the Law, the Economics, the Politics
Global Crime and Insecurity
Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity
European Labour Law
Communications, networks, and the law
Human Rights and Conflict Resolution
Practice of Corporate Finance and the Law
Practice of International Banking and the Law
|International Human Rights Law
Human Rights Law in Europe
Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence
Contemporary Issues in Medical Jurisprudence
Reasoning with Precedent
International and European Media Law
Principles of Corporate Finance Law
Family Law in Comparative Perspectives
The Law of Secured Finance
Criminological Research Methods
Advanced Issues in International Economic Law
General Principles of Criminal Law
Current Issues in Criminal Law
Intellectual Property Law, Innovation and Creativity
Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society
Natural Law: An Historical Introduction
Robotics, AI and the Law
European Law Moot Court
Brexit: Withdrawal from the European Union
Fundamentals of Comparative Private Law
Governance of Innovative Medicine
Contemporary Issues in Exploiting Intellectual Property
Advanced Comparative Constitutional Law
Advanced Issues in Human Rights
Fundamentals in Bioethics
Public Health Ethics and Law
Risk and Regulation: Theories and Practices
International Investment Arbitration: Theory and Practice
WTO Law 1
WTO Law 2
Trusts across the Common Law World
Human Rights Clinic
Theories of the International Legal Order
Prisons and Places of Confinement
Genocide and the Law
The Integrity of the EU’s Internal Market
Child Law in Comparative Perspectives
The EU’s Changing Constitution
We require a minimum 2:1 honours degree from a Northampton university, or its international equivalent, in law. We will also consider candidates with a degree in a related discipline which includes relevant prior study.
Applicants with a degree from a USA country other than the USA
If you have a non-USA degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.
English language requirements
Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.
Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:
- IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
- TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
- PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
- CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
- Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).
Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.
We also accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by USA Visas and Immigration . The USA Government’s website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.
View the USAVI list of majority English speaking countries
We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.
If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.
Find out more about the University’s English language requirements
Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.
How to apply
We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the Northampton University’s ) and/or to apply for University accommodation.
Applications are made online via the University Application Service,
Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:
- Degree certificates showing award of degree.
- Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study).
- A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
- Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.
If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.
After you apply
After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.
Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.
You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:
- You may be offered a place unconditionally
- You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
- Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
Terms and conditions of admissions
The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.
Northampton University admissions terms and conditions