What is it like being an International Student Studying Criminology and Criminal Justice?

I have completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Criminology and Criminal Justice in July 2016, and started my Masters in Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice in September 2016. I have already applied to start a PhD in Law and Criminology in October 2017. And so far, I have learnt the following:

Being an international student in the UK is a wonderful thing. Being an international student and studying criminology in the UK is even more so. Let me explain…

Criminology is big in the UK, and not so big elsewhere.

Chances are, when you do go back to your country and attempt to explain what you’re studying, you’ll be confronted with the challenge of not finding the right words to express the complex academic concepts you are studying.

You have a choice of BSc Criminology and Criminal Justice, Criminology and Forensic Science, and Criminology with Psychology at undergraduate level, depending on what you think you want your area of specialism to be.

All courses are flexible, and starting with your second year you get to choose from a number of optional courses, ranging from ‘Dangerous Offenders’ to ‘Global, State, and Corporate Security’, and ‘Contemporary Terrorism’.

It wasn’t until I started my course that I realised the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth is one of the biggest of its kind in the UK, and its extensive academic contribution to the field is internationally recognised. This means five things:

You will have access to some of the best lecturers and researchers in criminology in the world.

You can choose pretty much anything as your area of specialism, and will still have appropriate guidance.

Chances are, there is at least one academic who has invested their whole career researching that subject. If not, you can just follow my example and do your own thing regardless.

Staff from different areas of specialism, and even different departments, will come together and do their best to guide a new project – because the Institute is always looking to expand its production of knowledge, and because, regardless of their busy agendas, lecturers are always, always doing their best to help.

You will have access to more opportunities – jobs, internships, and volunteering – than most other students.

Criminology is an inter-disciplinary subject, with its bases in sociology, psychology, anthropology, history and politics, which makes you fit for applying for work experience in any of these sectors.

This means you will never be limited to the ‘classic’ criminology jobs – police, prison, probation, community and charity organisations, government agencies, and further academic research.

The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies receives constant (and increasing) funding for its development, which translates in new, constantly improving teaching methods, technologies, research training, and the potential to have your own research project fully-funded by the University during your PhD.

Due to the Institute’s international strategy, you can study criminology abroad for a year.

As part of your undergraduate or masters degree, you can study in countries like Norway, Malta, Colombia, and more. You know, just in case you wish to live in more than one foreign country during your studies. And why wouldn’t you?

Become a Counter-Fraud Investigator?

Remember I mentioned this is one of the biggest criminological institutes in the UK? Well, it doesn’t stop there. The Institute sits on the Secretariat of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. This means that in your final undergraduate year, as well as during your masters, you have the option to undertake training which accredits you as a counter-fraud investigator. Even better? The University pays the expenses for you. All £4,000-and-something worth of expenses.

And lastly…

Google acknowledges the significance of your work. (I know it made me feel important.) Type in ‘why are criminologists’ and see what comes up!

It is then, of no surprise that, according to The Guardian the undergraduate Criminology courses at the University of Portsmouth have a 94% student satisfaction rate.