Youth Justice

The MSc Youth Justice offers a unique opportunity to study the youth justice system in England and Wales. The scheme adopts a focused and specifically critical standpoint in the consideration of relevant issues, from within England and Wales. The scheme content directly relates to emerging critical youth justice research and provides students with an opportunity to develop a sophisticated understanding of current policy, legislation and its historical development, legislation and research, to current and rapidly developing changes in conceptions of ‘children’ and their treatment within and beyond current systems. The scheme also offers opportunities engage in a comparative analysis of the approaches adopted in other jurisdictions, in order to provide further critique the current and developing picture, and evaluate the impact of research on practice and policy.

Students will be supported throughout to become independent researchers and writers in the realm of youth justice, through a series of lecture-seminar combined sessions, at which students will also be expected to lead discussions. Writing skills are a particular focus, with assignments structured as journal articles, and feedback given mirroring peer reviews, to prepare students for academic publication with advice and guidance from published academics.

The scheme comprises of two compulsory modules (Critical Youth Justice and International Comparative Youth Justice), and a themed youth justice dissertation. Critical Youth Justice covers a wide range of topics including paradigms (justice vs welfare, risk-based youth justice, Child First/Rights-based youth justice), contentious issues (minimum age of criminal responsibility, moral panics, custody and resettlement) and contemporary debates (current topics, for example: disproportionality, gangs/knife crime). International Comparative Youth Justice comprises detailed critical exploration of a range of different jurisdictions, for example, Scotland, USA, Australia, Canada, Nordic countries, Japan and New Zealand. 

Typical Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements 2:2 Bachelors (Honours) degree in criminology or a related subject area, or equivalent.  Non-graduates will be considered individually based on relevant work experience.

English Language Requirements IELTS 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent

Other Requirements Applicants are encouraged to submit an up-to-date CV as part of their application.

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Course Overview

Why study MSc Youth Justice at Aberystwyth University?

·      96.5% of the Department of Law & Criminology publications were judged to be of an internationally recognised standard or higher in the most recent research assessment – REF 2014

·      Academic staff in the Department of Law and Criminology are active in research and publication and participate in national and international debate and policy-making in legal and related fields

·      Aberystwyth is a multinational community. The Department of Law & Criminology participates actively in international and European academic networks and frequently hosts visits by academics and experts from other countries

·      Expansive research is carried out within the Department across a range of research areas and within a range of research centres (including the Centre for Age, Gender and Social Justice see: Postgraduates integrate into our research culture through Departmental research seminars and student conferences

·      Opportunity to meet regularly with your Personal Tutor who will guide and assist students not only with their studies, but with their future career planning

·      Benefit from a mature and well-stocked library for Law and Criminology, supported by a subject specialist librarian to assist you with your studies and from generous information technology provision

·      Study nearby to the National Library of Wales, one of five UK copyright libraries

Course Details


One year full-time. The academic year (September to September) is divided into three semesters: September to January; January to June; June to September.

Contact Time:

During the first two semesters you will normally have one two-three hour class per module per week. This consists of an integrated lecture and seminar time. You will also have the opportunity to meet with module co-ordinators for additional assistance and learner support during their office hours. Students are also invited to attend the weekly departmental research seminars led by academics in the Department, guest speakers and PhD students. Students are encouraged to meet regularly with their Personal Tutor and their assigned Dissertation Supervisor in Semester 3.


The assessment regime for this scheme has been carefully considered to enable the appropriate assessment of students as per the latest QAA Benchmarking Statement for Masters Degrees Criminology (2019) and in an effort to maximise the development of transferable graduate skills suitable for careers in research, criminal justice agencies and voluntary organisations in the crime and justice field. Across the schemes, students will be engage with a variety of assessment types.

Assessment types include (depending on module choice): essay and report writing; individual / group presentations; producing an academic article; facilitating a group workshop; design and development of a portfolio; production of a Podcast and a production of a Wiki. In Semester 3, students design, conduct and evaluate their own independent research in the dissertation module.

 Entry Requirements:

Good Undergraduate degree 2.2 (UK) (or above) in criminology or related subject. European and International applicants can find their grade equivalence on our comparability page. Those who are not graduates must satisfy the University that they are of the required academic standard to pursue postgraduate study.

English Language Requirements:

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from a UK University, you do not need to take an English proficiency test. Non-native English speakers who do not meet this requirement must take a University-recognised test of academic English language proficiency. For further information please see our English Language requirements page.

Course Fees:

Please see the tuition fee pages for current tuition fees. Please note that all fees are subject to an annual increase.


Funding opportunities may be available, please check our funding calculator for details.


Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


Graduates from this scheme will leave with the professional knowledge and capacity to independently practice, reflect, review and build upon disciplinary expertise and judgement. The schemes’ teaching, learning and assessment requires students to develop ethical practice, critical analytical skills, research skills and presentation skills which will enable them to share their criminological expertise in both academic and professional settings.

Graduate career opportunities include (but not restricted to):

·      government departments and criminal justice agencies

·      voluntary organisations / non-governmental organisations in the crime and justice field

·      international organisations, such as the UN

·      research and academia

Course Content

Students will be provided with a stimulating learning environment, with small learning groups, conducive to a focused and personalised learning experience. Throughout the scheme, there is an emphasis on self-directed learning, engagement with the classical and contemporary criminological theory and debate, and application of core criminological perspectives and principles to specific areas of consideration.

The learning outcomes (knowledge and skills) are achieved through an integrated programme of lectures, seminars, supervisions, practical sessions, group work and the independent, guided reading and research efforts of the student. Lectures introduce broad areas of theory and knowledge, which the students then build upon in preparing for and participating in seminars. These seminars provide students with an opportunity to learn how to engage with, and reflect on, their modules in a supportive learning environment. They can draw on this experience when preparing and completing assessments. Students are supported in their learning through academic progress meetings with their personal tutors, as well as receiving feedback on progress from subject tutors.