Many colleges and universities advise and urge their undergraduate students in criminology, especially those with a minor or a special interest in the sociological aspects of criminology, to incorporate study abroad into their undergraduate education. The reasoning is that issues of crime, law, and justice place great emphasis on cultural context, and by studying abroad students will gain an appreciation of new cultures and ideas in addition to enhancing their background and technical knowledge. Studying criminology abroad, or any subject abroad for that matter, will allow students to gain historical perspective to their reasoning and analytical skills too!
Why Study Criminology Abroad
Criminology is a growing and diverse field, dependent on science and sociological premises that are ever changing, and can vary widely from country to country, culture to culture. Gaining international experience, either in the classroom, or by adding field trips or an internship, will enhance your resume, and help set you apart from the competition.
Most criminology careers go hand-in-hand with laws, the legal profession, and government regulations, and studying abroad will give you insights into systems different from your own, and perhaps open career possibilities you hadn’t previously considered.
It’s possible to find criminology and related programs in most parts of the world, but because of a history of expertise or due to geopolitical hotspots, some areas are particularly rich in criminology study abroad options, or offer a unique perspective and a wealth of available experts on the subject.
Amsterdam is the government and financial capital of The Netherlands. Its International Institute of Social History is one of the world's largest, and is in easy commuting distance of The Hague, which is the world’s center for legal arbitration and high profile trials, particularly in the area of war crimes.
England & the UK. More than 100 universities across the United Kingdom offer criminology programs and degrees, but among the highest ranked are Plymouth University, located in Plymouth on the far southwest corner of England, the City University of London, the London School of Business and Finance, Bangor University in Wales, and the University of Kent in Canterbury, in southeastern England.
London is an excellent base for studying criminology, because students can take advantage of well-established programs and high-quality facilities. London’s police force, New Scotland Yard, has an extensive museum and library, and the Mannheim Center for Criminology, which is part of the London School of Economics, and is one of the first institutions to specialize in the study of white collar crime.
South Africa. With its history of apartheid, its relatively peaceful transfer of power from a white minority rule to a black majority rule, and the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that deals with human rights crimes, racial violence, and amnesty, South Africa has a unique criminology perspective and a wide range of experts and criminology courses abroad to choose from. The two best places to study criminology in South Africa are in the nation’s two largest cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Sydney, Australia. Sydney is the center of criminal justice and international law for an entire region. In addition to criminology programs offered at the University of Sydney, the University of Western Sydney, and Macquarie University, The Sydney Institute of Criminology is a research center based in the Sydney Law School that publishes the latest international research on criminology issues, advises government and private industry on crime law and policy, and offers advanced degrees in criminology in conjunction with the law school.
Courses & Programs
What criminology courses you choose to take and where you study criminology abroad will depend on what direction your interests lie in and what kind of practical experience you want from your experience abroad.
War crimes, international standards & historical cases. These are courses that are heavy on the study of procedures, crimes that affect international law and human rights issues, and high-profile, precedent-setting, historical cases that change the way laws are written and crimes are investigated, prosecuted, and punished. Criminology study abroad programs that include these courses usually include trips to international courts too. Most courses of this kind are conducted in English and may also give students the chance to learn from NGO professionals who work on human rights issues and abuses too.
Applied forensics. There are several ways of studying forensics abroad. One is by exploring the technical side of information gathering through studying the science of crime. Another is forensic psychology, studying the mental aspect of criminology. Criminology coursesabroad in forensics, or related to the field, that may be available abroad include eyewitness research, legal decision making, deception detection and crowd violence, child sexual abuse and custody assessments, and forensic social work. All of these courses can be beneficial for students studying criminology.
Counter-terrorism. This is a specialty within the field of criminology which is growing rapidly and changing constantly. It’s an area that requires language skills, and a foundation in political science and history are helpful too, so studying abroad will benefit students interested in this field greatly. There are several directions to choose from when seeking courses in counter-terrorism abroad, including intelligence, high-tech crime, emergency management procedures, emergency services administration, deception detection, and crowd violence. These type of criminology programs abroad are relatively new but options are growing rapidly.
Studying criminology abroad, and its related fields, enhances a student’s critical and analytical skills and helps put the field’s technical knowledge into a cultural and historical perspective.
Adding an international experience – whether it’s a degree from an international university or a semester studying abroad, gives the holder of a criminology degree an added level of communications abilities, a broader perspective on analyzing and interpreting data, and a different point of view to consider in written reports and evaluations.
The extra level of background, experience, and knowledge can help a job candidate be attractive to employers within the field of criminal justice, social services, rehabilitation, and even politics, civil service, and international law.