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Certificate in Security and Crime Science


This programme provides students with a thorough understanding of how science and scientifically based techniques can deliver immediate and sustainable reductions in crime. The programme focuses on how to better apply science to understand crime problems, develop strategies for preventing them, and increase the probability of detecting and arresting offenders. Students develop the ability to apply scientific principles to crime control, think more strategically in developing and implementing crime control policies, appreciate the complexity of implementation issues, critically assess the likely impact of planned crime reduction initiatives and generate more innovative proposals for reducing particular crime problems.

The Department of Security and Crime Science is the first in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime through teaching, research, public policy analysis and by the dissemination of evidence-based information on crime reduction.

Crime Science is supported by the police, forensic psychologists, applied criminologists, economists, architects, statisticians and geographers, and has been strongly endorsed by the government.

This multi-disciplinary course draws on expertise in psychology, geography, criminology, philosophy and a range of forensic sciences. Our graduate students come from varied backgrounds; many are practitioners and are encouraged to contribute their experience in and out of the classroom.

The Certificate is available as a campus-based course (where all students will be expected to attend lectures) and as a distance-learning course. For more information see the structure tab. Students choosing the distance learning option will need regular access to the internet in order to complete this course as it is all delivered online.

Campus based students

Students can complete the programme in one academic year or take up to two years to complete the programme.

Students requiring a Tier 4 visa will not be eligible for the campus-based mode of attendance, but can apply for the distance learning mode.

Distance learning students

For the 2014-15 academic year, the programme is only being offered as a two year programme. You will be expected to take Foundations of Security and Crime Science and may take one or more of the following optional modules: Quantitative Methods, Perspectives on Terrorism, Crime Mapping and Spatial Analysis, Preventing Crime (OR Prevention and Disruption).

In the 2015-16 academic year you will be able to choose from all the optional modules listed below.

Students choosing the distance learning option will need regular access to the internet in order to complete this course as it is all delivered online.

Programme Structure

The Certificate in Security and Crime Science is composed of 4 modules (1 compulsory and 3 optional). 60 credits are required for this programme 

Compulsory Modules

  • Foundations of Security and Crime Science - PUBLGC42: The purpose of this module is to set out the foundational concepts, theories and approaches that underpin the masters programmes offered in the Department of Security and Crime Science. In this way the module provides an overarching framework for the modules that follow. It outlines the distinctive nature of the crime science approach to understanding, preventing, detecting and investigating crime and security problems. It presents the key theories that explain the temporal and spatial patterning of crime and terrorism events, and introduces students to associated strategies for disrupting these patterns. The need for a multidisciplinary approach – especially the integration of the social and physical sciences - to address crime and security problems is emphasised, with the contributions of the forensic sciences and security technology highlighted.  Assessment: one exam.

Optional Modules

Students cannot take both PUBLGC48 and PUBLGC43

  • Crime Mapping and Spatial Analysis - PUBLGC26: This module will equip students with the theoretical and practical knowledge of geographical analytical tools applicable to the discipline of crime science. Using the SARA framework, this module will provide students with the opportunity to analyse real and simulated data to explore each part of the problem-solving process. Drawing on three computer packages (ArcGIS, Geoda and CrimeStatIII), this module will be invaluable to anyone intending to use spatial analysis in their dissertation or future applied work of this kind.  Assessment: two 2000 word essays (30% and 70%).
  • Designing and Doing Research - PUBLGC31: This module addresses head-on the question of what it means be scientific about security and crime. In doing so, it tackles several contiguous queries: What is the logic of crime science? What are the key methods of crime science? What is involved in applied science and engineering in the context of crime and security? What are the warrants for the findings of crime science, compared to other ways of studying crime and security? How does a crime scientist go about designing and undertaking a scientific study? In answering these questions, the course objectives are 1) to help students understand the distinctiveness of a scientific approach to security, crime and crime control; 2) to enable them to discriminate good and bad scientific research questions; 3) to allow them to recognize and be able to formulate testable scientific hypotheses; 4) to ensure that they can critically assess scientific research designs; and 5) to equip them to devise a plausible design for a piece of research in crime and security science, leading ultimately to the formulation of their dissertation research project.
  • Quantitative Methods - PUBLGC32: The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how to visualize and analyze quantitative data. Relevant examples are used to show how the principles and methods can be used to test hypotheses concerned with crime. The aims of the course are two-fold. First, to develop students into intelligent consumers of research by explaining why researchers conduct studies in the way they do and what methods are appropriate for different kinds of data. And, second, during supported workshops, to provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning by analyzing real or simulated data. The course will provide students with practical skills that will help them to complete their dissertations.
  • Preventing Crimes - PUBLGC43: This module aims to give students a solid understanding of the crime prevention process. In order to gain this understanding it is important that students do not purely consider a crime type and suggest a list of responses. There also needs to be an understanding of the process of crime prevention- for example frameworks that can be used in planning prevention and issues that are likely to come up in the process of implementing prevention. Furthermore, it is useful to consider issues such as the quality of evidence that is available in making decisions regarding prevention.  Hence there will be discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation designs and further evaluative techniques that are commonly used in evidence production. Finally it is useful to understand the process of synthesizing evidence on what works in reducing a particular type of crime so that it is possible to give practitioners a detailed account of what they might expect when using a particular preventative strategy. This course focuses exclusively on examples of crime reduction using situational crime prevention techniques.  Assessment: one poster presentation (20%) and one 3000 word essay project (80%).
  • Perspectives on Organised Crime - PUBLGC44: The aim of this module is to provide students with an overview and understanding of the phenomenon of organised crime, by providing them with an outline of its history, various manifestations, broader issues of definition, practice and theory. The different ways in which organised crime manifests itself in different countries will be discussed. A number of special topics will also be examined, human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime, and the historical cases of the crime-terror nexus thus providing students with an up-to-date picture of the organised crime landscape and the pervasive influence of organised crime worldwide. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Investigation and Detection - PUBLGC45:  This module provides students with an understanding of the processes and actors operating throughout the course of a criminal investigation from the crime scene itself, to the collection and analysis of evidence, its interpretation and eventual presentation in a courtroom. The various stages of the investigation and detection processes will be examined which will include an introduction to crime scene management methods; the influence of various criminological theories about offender behavior and how they relate to criminal investigations; knowledge concerning the production of intelligence and evidence by forensic science; an understanding of the influence of the law and the courts. Students will interact with a number of different professionals and disciplines that contribute to the detection and investigation process.  Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Perspectives on Terrorism - PUBLGC47: This module provides students with an overview of terrorism, including empirical trends, historical manifestations, current groups and tactics, and prominent theories operating at various levels of analysis. While much of the course material and required readings draw from an array of disciplines traditionally concerned with the topic, such as public policy, criminology, sociology and psychology, the main purpose of the module is to introduce students to a more distinctive security and crime science perspective on the subject. Therefore, throughout the module, students are encouraged to adopt a critical yet open mind set, to reflect on the conceptual and methodological issues involved in studying terrorism as a concrete scientific problem, and to consider what this particular approach implies for the design of preventive or disruptive interventions and technologies against terrorism. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Prevention and disruption - PUBLGC48: This will focus on methods of preventing and disrupting terrorism and organised crime. Four major strategies are considered. The first comprises attempts to address the ideologies and belief systems; the second comprises efforts to anticipate and prevent organised crimes and terrorist acts of various kinds; the third comprises enforcement means used to disrupt, disable or suppress the activities of organised criminals and terrorist networks and the fourth comprises efforts to remove the economic basis for terrorist activities by attacking organised crime.
  • Qualitative Methods - PUBLGC58: The module introduces students to a variety of qualitative research techniques used in the social sciences.  It provides an understanding of how qualitative and quantitative methods can be used to complement each other to enrich a research project.  The sessions cover theoretical considerations required in qualitative research and each week introduces the student to a different qualitative method or approach that can be used in crime science research.  Collectively, the sessions will enable students to construct qualitative research instruments appropriate to real-world research questions, analyse data in a scientific manner, and interpret findings appropriately. Assessment: one 1500 word essay (50%) and one exam (50%).

Admission is open to graduates who possess a 2:2 honours degree (or equivalent) or better in a relevant discipline (e.g. criminology, psychology, sociology, law) or individuals with 5 or more years relevant professional experience (e.g. in the police service, crime prevention worker). Applicants may be required to undertake and pass a qualifying exam if they have good experience but 'nonstandard' qualifications. Proficiency in the use of spoken and written English is required. Students whose first language is not English will need to meet the College's English language requirement.

Applications are considered throughout the year, but applicants are advised to apply early.

Students requiring a Tier 4 visa will not be eligible for the campus-based mode of attendance, but can apply for the distance learning mode.

Further information may be obtained from:
UCL Department of Security and Crime Science
University College London
35 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9EZ
Tel: 020 3108 3206
Fax: 020 3108 3088

All applications are made online at the following link:

Scholarship Schemes
Please click here for funding and scholarship schemes.  

Certificate in Security and Crime Science
Home/EU £3,705 
Overseas £5,870

(*Please note there is an Application Processing Fee for all Postgraduate Taught programmes of £25 for online applications and £50 for paper applications.)

For those taking the programme over two years, you will be charged according to the number of credits you take that year, therefore the annual cost will vary according to your study load. However, the overall fee will be approximately the same as if you were to take the programme over one year, with a slight increase to allow for annual inflation:

A 15 credit component (equivalent to one taught module) corresponds to approximately £926 for Home/EU students and £1467 for overseas students.

Fees are paid on an annual basis.

Many graduates of the Certificate have gone on to work in the field of crime prevention and detection for public sector employers such as the Home Office, Police (UK and overseas) and Ministry Of Defence (MOD), or private sector companies with a crime prevention and community safety focus.

Click here to see the career paths previous students have taken.

Page last modified on 27 jul 12 10:59