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What’s the difference between law and criminology?

Law and Criminology

Law and criminology are both fascinating subjects that cover a wide range of topics. However, many students are unaware of the differences between these two very distinct programmes so we’ve put together a short guide to help you out…


What is criminology?

Criminology explores both the social and personal aspects of crime. It examines some of the most serious concerns we face as a society such as: What causes crime and criminal behaviour? Can crime be prevented? How and why should we punish offenders? How does criminal justice link to social justice?


What is law?

The study of law provides you with a thorough academic training in the discipline of law. It enables you to develop a critical awareness of common law and legal principles and build knowledge of the UK and EU legal systems. A law degree can also be a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD), which is first step towards practising law professionally.


What topics do you study on a criminology degree course?

A criminology degree covers subjects including Criminal Investigation, Forensic and Criminal Psychology, Criminal Behaviour and Deviance and many more.

Although modules with names like ‘Legal Systems’ may sound like they cover law-related topics, these criminology modules take a different approach; these explore the court system, its structure, its principle actors and the ways that the legal system responds to social and political climates


What topics do you study on a law course?

If you choose to undertake a law degree programme you will study a comprehensive range of topics and develop your expertise in specific areas of law. These can include Constitutional and Administrative Law, Law of Tort, Commercial Law and many more.

Although a law degree can cover topics including ‘Criminal Law’, these do not overlap with criminology; instead of focusing on the psychology of crime, they focus on key criminal law concepts and principles including identifying and applying the necessary elements of a crime to establish liability for specified criminal offences.


What careers can a criminology degree lead to?

Careers linked to criminology and criminal justice are very varied and a criminology degree course provides excellent training for work within the police, probation, prisons, youth work, youth offending services and private and voluntary sectors.

Other opportunities include roles within criminal justice services such as court custody officers and drug or alcohol workers. Criminology graduates can also move into the civil service, journalism or professional positions within the voluntary sector such as fund-raisers and project managers.


What careers can a law degree lead to?

Studying law prepares you for a career in many sectors. Roles in finance, human resources, education, local and central government, the voluntary sector or management all benefit from a legal background.

The LLB (Hons) Law offered by University of Essex Online is recognised as a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) in England and Wales and is the first step if you are considering practising law professionally.


Which course is right for me?

It’s your decision! Both courses cover exciting and challenging topics while also opening up a wide range of career options.

If you’re struggling to decide, why not read our law and criminology course pages to see which programme appeals to you?


Ready to start your journey?

Contact our Admissions Advisers today