Voc Lvl 3

There are four units that make up the level 3 diploma in criminology:

  • Unit 1 (first year of course) – Changing Awareness of Crime: You will develop an understanding of different types of crime, influences on perceptions of crime and why some crimes go unreported.
  • Unit 2 (first year of course) – Criminological Theories: You will gain an understanding of theories behind why people commit crime and also the difference between criminal behaviour and deviance.
  • Unit 3 (second year of course) – Crime Scene to Courtroom: You will gain an understanding of the criminal justice system from the moment a crime has been identified through to the verdict.
  • Unit 4 (second year of course) – Crime and Punishment: You will examine the effectiveness of social control to deliver criminal justice policy.

This level 3 diploma in criminology, is equivalent to a full A level.

Lessons will be varied.  You will be required to undertake independent research during lesson time and to present your findings to the class.  Many activities will, however, be teacher-led with PowerPoints, videos and case studies often forming the basis of stimulus material to illustrate key concepts.  There will be a lot of reading and note-taking as well as class discussion.

Units 1 and 3 will be assessed through computer-based exams lasting 8 hours in total for each unit.  Units 2 and 4 will be assessed through written examinations lasting 1½ hours for each unit.  There is no coursework: this course is 100% exam. 

This course could be studied alongside other level 3 qualifications.

The level 3 diploma in criminology would benefit students looking to go straight into work when they leave College.  It could lead to work with employers such as the National Probation Service, the Courts and Tribunals Service, or the National Offender Management Service.

For students wanting to progress onto higher education, this qualification is equivalent to an A level in terms of UCAS points.

Please see below for careers and labour market information for criminology - use the refresh buttons to find out about different courses and careers, and use the left and right arrows to view more detailed information.

You can find the prep work for this course at

Q:  Is criminology an A level course?
A:  No, criminology is a level 3 applied general qualification awarded by the WJEC exam board and is a two year course. This is a respected level 3 qualification and is essentially the equivalent of an A level. It is graded the same as an A level (A*-E), and each grade has the same amount of UCAS points attached to it as an A level. 

Q:  How is criminology assessed??
A:  This is a modular course as opposed to linear which means that each unit (there are four) is assessed individually across four assessment points over the two years (in both December and May). Each assessment point is equally weighted and worth 25% of the overall qualification. That means that you have 50% of the qualification completed by the end of year one as opposed to doing 100% your assessment at the end of the second year. The assessment is divided into two 90 minute unseen exams and two 8 hour controlled assessments.

Q:  How do the controlled assessments work?
A:  In December of both years, you will complete what is called a controlled assessment. This means that you sit in one of our LRCs at college and complete a large piece of written work over an eight hour period. Don't panic, you don't sit eight hours all at once! This is divided into three sittings over a two day period and is conducted in exam conditions. You will know what to expect on the day, and also you can take all of your class notes in with you. So it is effectively an open-book, extended piece of writing, written in exam conditions.

Q:  What am I going to learn about?
A:  In criminology you are going to learn about a range of issues relating to crime. The first unit teaches you all about different types of crime, how crime is recorded and whether there are some which go undetected.  You then move on to learn about why people commit crime in the first place. Through looking at biological, sociological and psychological contributions to criminological theory, we will explore a range of potential causes for criminality.  In year two we learn about the criminal justice system in England and Wales. We take students on a journey from the crime scene, to the trial, to the process of appeals. If you have interest in forensics or criminal law, this is the unit for you! We finally explore the idea of punishment and social control and learn about different types of punishment and how effective they are for reducing crime throughout our society.

Q  What subjects go well with criminology?
A:  Criminology is a social science and therefore goes very well with others like sociology, psychology and health and social care. It also compliments law very well. It has a strong scientific element so it can be matched with science. Criminology is a subject that will definitely prepare you for further study if you wish to enter Higher Education. The WJEC Applied Diploma is widely recognised by universities across the country and a great deal of our students go on to study a range of subjects at university. We have a huge number of students who develop a real love for the subject and decide to study criminology at university. However university is not the only pathway for our leavers. Criminology is an applied subject which introduces students to a range of potential career options in the public sector, law or the criminal justice system e.g. police, probation officer, solicitor, data analyst. We have a range of professionals and practitioners who come in to speak to our students throughout the two years to try to capture their interest in potential careers in criminal justice.

Exam Board

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Entry Requirements

  • You should have at least a grade 4 in at least one science.
  • Ideally you should have a grade 4 in GCSE maths.
  • A grade 4 is desirable in another essay based subject, for example, history.

Employability Skills

  • The subject content is applicable to the workplace.
  • The course can support a future career within the criminal justice system.
  • The course provides you with transferable IT, literacy and numeracy skills.
  • The course improves independent study skills, including time management.
  • The course develops your communication skills, including working with others and writing to persuade others.