Postgraduate courses in Criminal Law

The world of law is both interesting and very broad. While there are multiple types of law we can look at, here we are going to look at criminal law. 

Criminal Law is a system of laws concerned with the punishment of individuals who commit crimes. It differs from civil law as in civil law, two individuals dispute their rights and normally come to a conclusion, whereas in criminal law, a judge decides on an appropriate sentence if the individual is found guilty for example, a prison sentence.

If you’re interested in working in this area we will talk you through a few courses below. 

What do criminal defense solicitors do?

A large number of people studying in this area have an interest in becoming a solicitor/lawyer. For that reason, we will take a look at Criminal defense solicitors, also known as criminal solicitors. The day to day duties of a criminal defense solicitor may differ from case to case. The main role is to defend those who have been accused of committing a crime. Typical tasks carried out may include:

  • Conducting research on cases
  • Analyze cases to determine possible outcomes
  • Create a defense strategy to defend your client in court
  • Advise and help clients to understand their legal options
  • Aim to resolve cases in a timely manner
  • Attend court hearing, trials and meeting in both representing clients and meeting with clients
  • Present evidence to back up your case 
  • Prepare, legal documents such as briefs and appeals and record documentation
  • Stay up to date with continued training and professional development


There are many courses to choose from in this area across the UK. A postgraduate course in this area can help you on your way to becoming a solicitor, lecturer, work in criminology or whatever path it is you choose to follow. Some courses offer the option of studying both part-time or full time. Some courses may have restrictions or changes due to Covid-19. More detail on courses can be found on university websites or course overviews. Examples of courses include:

Criminal Investigation

Postgraduate courses in criminal investigation will help students to advance their career in law enforcement, finance, health and safety among other sectors. You will gain the skills needed to conduct serious and complex investigations over a mixture of lectures, seminars and group work. Students will gain the knowledge to further their career in this area. 

Criminal Justice and Criminology

As the justice system continues to change, a course in criminal justice and criminology aims to develop a high performing, efficient and effective criminal and community justice system which benefits both victims and rehabilitates those who offend. These courses are aimed at those who have an interest in the critical social and political challenges in relation to crime. 

Other courses available include Criminology, Applied Criminal Justice and Criminology Criminology and Criminal Justice Practice and Global Crime, Justice and Security to name a  few. 

Entry requirements 

Entry requirements may change from course to course and University to University so it is important to research your specific course to be sure you meet the criteria. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in law or a relevant discipline is  Some courses will look for a 2.1 degree while a 2.2 may suffice in others. More detailed course outlines can be found on University websites and course overviews. 

Typical employers

Typical employers may include: 

  • Central government bodies
  • Local government bodies
  • International government bodies
  • Non-governmental organisations (eg. charities, campaigning organisations)
  • Universities – lecturer/researcher


The law sector in the UK pays some of the highest salaries in the country to graduates. They may differ from company to company and location plays a large role too. There is no general minimum salary as every firm is different but trainee solicitors in London can earn a minimum of £22,000 while those outside London may learn closer to £19,000. The average pay for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in the Uk is around £38,729. The average salary in the same role in London is around £52,500. If you decide to take the route of becoming a lecturer in a University, you can earn between £35,211 and £58,089. All figures are based on estimates and only used as a guide. 

Skills and requirements 

Skills and requirements needed in this area include:

  • An understanding of Criminal Law
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Attention to detail 
  • Strong communication skills
  • Problem solver
  • Critical thinker
  • Organisation skills
  • Time management skills
  • Confidence
  • Ability to be vocal in front of others

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