The study of criminology delves into the physical aspects of crime in order to understand the sociological causes and implications.
In some cases, this can include the psychology of criminals and the development of criminal profiles to better understand their behaviour.
Criminologists help to solve crimes and to prevent them.
A career in criminology is as interesting as it is varied where a good day solves crimes and saves lives.
To become a criminologist requires a degree in any of the following: sociology, psychology, criminal justice or criminology.
It’s also highly beneficial to gain some work experience in the field. This can be volunteering with the Police, perhaps as a community support officer. Or you volunteer as an appropriate adult when minors are being interviewed.
In order to attend university, you of course need relevant qualifications. But what do you do if you don’t have any or the ones you have aren’t relevant?
Fortunately, there are things you can do.
What the job entails
Despite what you see on TV, criminology isn’t (always) gory crime scenes or getting embroiled in car chases and/or shoot outs. Or dramatic manhunts across cities. Or next gen computer systems that extrapolate seeming innocuous evidence into a working theory that saves the day.
However, you do get to apply the considerable knowledge you gain into understanding criminal behaviour and reduce criminal activity.
Becoming a criminologist will mean you will have a direct hand in bringing criminals to justice and prevent further crimes from being committed.
The job includes researching why people commit crimes, analysing data to spot trends and use that to build intelligence databases.
You will be involved in crime reduction and rehabilitation programmes and recommending ways to improve the effectiveness of punishments.
Part of the job will also include visiting prisons and the probation service to speak to offenders and ex-offenders to better understand the criminal mindset.
You will also get the opportunity to attend conferences, conduct research and even advise on policy.
How to become a Criminologist
As mentioned above, in order to become a criminologist, you need – at the very least – an undergraduate degree. This can be in sociology, psychology, criminal justice or criminology.
But to get into university you need to meet the minimum course requirements which will usually be two or three A Levels, or the equivalent.
The two most common options are A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Although there are RQF level 3 courses in criminology, psychology and sociology etc.
Distance learning provides adults with a host of educational options including taking (or retaking) A Levels.
The advantage of taking A Levels over other qualifications is they are a nationally accepted qualification by employers and educational institutes alike.
As such, if you decide criminology isn’t for you, the A Levels you gain could be applied to other fields and roles.
By studying A Levels, you can choose the subjects that fit the requirements of your chosen university, and your interests.
If you want to be a criminologist then the kind of courses you should be looking at are sociology, history, psychology, statistics, government/politics.
Again, some universities may be quite prescriptive in terms of what qualifications they want from their students. In which case that makes the decision much easier.
Otherwise, choose the courses that you feel will suit you best.
It’s important at this stage to manage your expectations. Each A Level course will take you approximately a year to complete. It can be done in less time but if you’re balancing work and home life, it could be a struggle.
Some universities will only ask for two A Levels with good passing grades in order to enrol, but that’s still 2 years of study.
However, the upside is you will go into university with a strong foundation of knowledge upon which to build.
Access to Higher Education Diplomas
A common alternative to A Levels – especially for those who left school without them – is the Access to Higher Education Diploma.
This qualification has been developed for those who want to return to education in mind.
The courses that include criminology are tailored to give you the foundational knowledge you need to hit the ground running when you start university.
During the course of your studies you will cover: approaches in psychology, crime and deviance, cognitive psychology and the welfare state amongst others.
You will also learn about academic writing skills and how to structure assignments.
By the time you have completed the diploma you will have a firm grasp of all the key principles and will be able to advance towards degree level study.
Access to HE Diplomas are developed in partnership with universities, so the content is up to date and reflects the material covered at degree level. This gives you the best possible place to start.
If you opt to take the Access to Higher Education route into university, you don’t need study for any other qualification. Providing you meet any other course requirements.
The diploma will give you everything you need to know. You can also qualify within a year – although you have up to two years if you need it.
Assuming you’re keen to get on to your university course as quickly as possible, this will help you to achieve that.
The added benefit of studying an Access to HE Diploma (or any course) online is you can start right away. There’s no term start dates.
Once you’ve decided on your pathway to higher education, all you need to do is enrol on the course/s that will give you the qualifications you need.
You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.
Click below to sign up to study your Access to HE Diploma with learndirect today.