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Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
NFQ Level 8 major Award Honours Bachelor Degree

CAO points history:
Course code:
4 Years

Course leader:
Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald O'Reilly
Email: Tel:
Tel: 00 353 61 202015

About You

Are you interested in crime and the operation of the criminal justice system? Would you like to work in law enforcement, security, court administration or other civil service roles or in non-governmental organisations related to the criminal justice sector.

Students of the BA (Criminal Justice) have an inquiring mind and want to develop a grounding in a number of key disciplines in order to fully comprehend the complexities of crime and justice in modern society.

Why study Criminal Justice at UL?

Become an expert in Criminal Justice. The BA (Criminal Justice) is administered by the School of Law which boasts considerable expertise in the criminal justice area. The Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies was established at the School of Law in 1997 and is a national centre of excellence for criminal justice research. Students of criminal justice in the University of Limerick will thus be taught by experts in the area who have published widely both nationally and internationally on criminal justice topics. The expertise of these staff is complemented by the first class credentials of the teaching faculty from the other disciplines (i.e. Sociology, Politics, Public Administration, Psychology and Management) which contribute to the programme.

As a result of its strong research profile in criminal justice areas, the School of Law has developed important links with key criminal justice stakeholders. The School of Law provides accreditation and quality assurance for the national Garda training programme (BA in Applied Policing) in Templemore. Researchers from the Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies have also been involved in research with the Inspector of Prisons, the Irish Prison Service and the Department of Justice. These links ensure that the School of Law is always at the cutting edge of developments in the criminal justice system.


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What you will study

The BA (Criminal Justice) is a four-year, inter-disciplinary degree programme. In each semester, you will study a combination of modules from Law, Sociology, Politics and Public Administration. An exposure to each of these disciplines ensures that you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system and how it reacts to and regulates the society within which it operates. To further enhance your learning during the programme, you will study some Psychology modules which will aid in understanding human behaviour and the motivations of those who commit crime along with the behaviours of other actors in the criminal justice system such as police, judges and juries. Modules in Management will also give you core skills which are essential for future administrative roles within the criminal justice sector.

A key learning experience within the programme is the eight-month co-operative work placement which you will undertake at the end of Year 2. Co-op will give you a unique and invaluable opportunity to gain practical experience working in social impact and community work placements. Through these placements, you will put your learning to practical use and build networks with potential future employers. It is also possible to spend some of this work placement period abroad.

In your final year of studies, you will have an option to complete a final year project under the supervision of one of the members of faculty within the School of Law on a criminal justice issue of your choice. This will provide you with an opportunity to work independently on a criminal justice topic which is of particular personal interest to you, under the supervision of an expert in that specific area.

  Semester 1   Semester 2
LA4001  Legal System and Method


LA4032 Criminal Law 2
LA4211 Criminal Law 1 LA4222 Criminal Law 2
SO4001 Intro to Sociology I SO4032 Intro to Sociology II
PA4001 Introduction to Public Administration I PA4022 Introduction to Public Administration II
PO4051 Introduction to Politics and International Relations I PO4052 Introduction to Politics and International Relations II
  Semester 3   Semester 4
LA4430 Constitutional Law 1
LA4440 Constitutional Law 2
LA4068 Crime and Criminal Justice LA4042 Administrative Law
SO4073 Classic Sociological Theory SO4036 Contemporary Sociological Theory
PA4012 Para-governmental Organisations PA4022 Principles of Organisational Behaviour
PO4013 Government and Politics of Ireland PO401 Government and Politics of the EU
Semester 5   Semester 6
Co-operative Work Placement LA4040 Law of Evidence
  LA4058 Human Rights
  SO4078 Inequality and Social Exclusion
  SO4006 Sociology of Deviance and Social Control
  PA4018 Public Policy Processes
  Semester 7   Semester 8
LA4021 Child Law LA4002 Jurisprudence
LA4017 Advanced Lawyering 1 (Alternative Dispute Resolution) LA4109 Law and Criminology
MG4045 Change Management PA4038 Public Administration in Democratic States
PS4031 Psychology and Everyday Life PS4032 Psychology and Social Issues
  Elective   Elective
LA4013 Media Law LA4088 Final Year Project
  OR   OR
LA4033 Law of the European Union 1 LA4044 Law of the European Union 2

Frequently Asked Questions

Although the number of places offered on this programme varies from year to year, approximately 25 to 30 places may be offered in any given year.


The four-year programme includes seven semesters on campus and one on Cooperative Education. The programme is a structured one and, in general, you do not have elective modules (i.e. modules you choose) each semester. Instead, you will study a predetermined set of modules primarily from the disciplines of Law, Sociology, Politics and Public Administration each semester. There will also be some modules from Psychology and Management within your degree.

The only point at which you will have an option to choose modules is in 4th year where you will have the option to study either Media Law or Law of the European Union 1 in the Autumn and either to complete a Final Year Project or study Law of the European Union 2 in the Spring.

No. There is no option to study a language within this programme.

 At the end of year 2, students on the BA(Criminal Justice) will complete an eight-month period of Cooperative Education (June to January) which provides the students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge that has already been acquired. Normally this will take the form of a work placement which is relevant to the programme such as within the Courts Service, local authorities, law firms or community and non-governmental organisations. Each year, there will also be some opportunities to complete a work placement abroad. In addition, a limited number of academic placements are available, either through an exchange programme with a European law school or with one of our partner law schools worldwide.

Yes. The Law Society of Ireland (Solicitors) does not require applicants to have a law degree to pursue a career as a solicitor. However, every student in the country must sit entrance exams to gain entry to the Law Society of Ireland. Thus, if you wish to become a solicitor, you may apply to the Law Society and complete the relevant entrance examinations with a BA(Criminal Justice) degree.

The Honorable Society of Kings Inns (Barristers, The Bar) does require students wishing to become a barrister to hold a law degree. Thus, if you wish to become a barrister, you will need to complete an approved law degree before applying.*

BA(Criminal Justice) graduates who wish to pursue a career in the legal profession are eligible to complete the LLB(Graduate Entry) law programme within the School of Law. Importantly, BA(Criminal Justice) graduates can complete this degree in one year instead of two**, thereby obtaining a law degree within one year of completion of the BA(Criminal Justice). This will be an important option for graduates who wish to train as a solicitor and also allows those who wish to pursue a career as a barrister to complete an approved law degree in one year. Further details on the LLB(Graduate Entry) programme are available on the School of Law website. 


*NOTE: Further information on becoming a barrister is available from and further information on becoming a solicitor is available on

**NOTE: Students on the BA(Criminal Justice) programme who wish to avail of this opportunity must elect to complete LA4033 Law of the European Union 1 and LA4044 Law of the European Union 2 in the 4th year of their studies in order to have sufficient credits to quality for one-year completion of the LLB (Graduate Entry).

Yes. If you are interested in pursuing a career within An Garda Síochána, this degree would be very relevant, although a degree is not a requirement for entry on to the Garda training programme. For details of the Garda training programme and relevant entry requirements, you should refer to the careers section of the website of An Garda Síochána (

This route will be available from A/Y 2020/21. Further information on this will be available on the website in due course.

This will depend upon the career or training opportunity which you wish to avail of. You should check the requirements of the particular career or study opportunity you wish to pursue in order to obtain this information.

Entry requirements

CAO points history 418
Minimum grades

Applicants are required to hold at the time of enrolment the established Leaving Certificate (or an approved equivalent) with a minimum of six subjects which must include: Two H5 (Higher level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English.

Note: Grade F6 in Foundation Mathematics also satisfies the minimum entry requirements. Foundation Maths is not reckonable for scoring purposes. For certain electives, additional special qualifications specific to individual subjects or disciplines may be determined by the respective departments in accordance with Academic Council regulations.

Subject requirements

For certain electives, additional special qualifications specific to individual subjects or disciplines may be determined by the respective departments in accordance with Academic Council regulations.

Additional considerations

Mature Students

We welcome applications from Mature Students. Mature applicants must apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February.

Application information for mature student applicants (PDF)

Non-EU Entry Requirements

How to apply

Where are you applying from? How to Apply
Ireland Irish students must apply to UL via the CAO. More information can be found here. 
The UK  Students who have completed their A-Levels can apply to UL via the CAO. More information can be found on the Academic Registry website. 
The EU EU Students can apply to UL via the CAO. More information can be found on the Academic Registry website.
Non-EU country Applications Closed


Fees & funding

Student course fees are broken into three components - Student contribution, Student Centre Levy and Tuition Fees.

A number of illustrative examples of fees for this course based on the current fee levels have been set out in the tables below.

An explanation of the components, how to determine status and the criteria involved is provided below the examples as is a list of possible scholarships and funding available.

EU Students with Free fees status in receipt of a SUSI grant

HEA paysTuition Fees€2,558
SUSI paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

EU Students with Free fees status not in receipt of a grant

HEA paysTuition Fees€2,558
Student paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Students with EU fee status not in receipt of a grant

Student paysTuition Fees€2,558
Student paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Non-EU Students

Student paysTuition Fees€12,178
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Student course fees are comprised of three components:

Student Contribution

Annual charge set by the government for all full-time third level students. All students are liable unless they have been approved for a grant by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). Please refer to to determine your eligibility for a grant and for instructions on how to apply. The curent student contribution is set at €3000.

Student Centre Levy

All students are liable to pay the Student Centre Levy of €90. Please note the Student Centre Levy is not covered by the SUSI Grant.

Tuition Fees

These are based on Residency, Citizenship, Course requirements.

Review the three groups of criteria to determine your fee status as follows

  1. Residency
    • You must have been living in an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland for at least 3 of the 5 years before starting your course
  2. Citizenship
    • You must be a citizen of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland or have official refugee status
  3. Course Requirements (all must be met)
    • You must be a first time full-time undergraduate (Exceptions are provided for students who hold a Level 6 or Level 7 qualification and are progressing to a Level 8 course in the same general area of study).
    • You must be undertaking a full-time undergraduate course of at least 2 year’s duration
    • You cannot be undertaking a repeat year of study at the same level unless evidence of exceptional circumstances eg serious illness is provided (in which case this condition may be waived)

Depending on how you meet these criteria your status will be one of the following -

More information about fees can be found on the Finance website


These scholarships are available for this course

Title Award Scholarships available
The Noel Ryan Scholarship
€2,000 per year for 4 years
1 per year

Your future career

The BA (Criminal Justice) prepares students for a wide variety of careers within the criminal justice sector and beyond. Graduates may opt for careers in policing, the legal profession, the private security industry, courts administration or the prison service, as well as within organisations which work in the prevention of crime and/or the support of victims and communities affected by criminal activity. You may also decide to pursue careers in related areas such as the civil service, research or journalism.

Follow on study

Students who complete the BA (Criminal Justice) have a variety of options for postgraduate study and professional education courses both within the University of Limerick and beyond. Importantly, BA(Criminal Justice) graduates are eligible to complete the School of Law’s LLB (Graduate Entry) programme in one year instead of two. This programme allows individuals with an undergraduate degree in any discipline to obtain a law degree in two years. However, BA(Criminal Justice) students will have sufficient credits in law to complete the LLB (Graduate Entry) programme in one year*, thereby obtaining a law degree in one year after completion of the BA(Criminal Justice). This is an ideal postgraduate option for graduates who wish to pursue a career within the legal profession.

Graduates on the programme may also opt to complete the MA in Criminal Justice and Human Rights offered by the School of Law.

Alternatively, you may decide to choose a career in the legal profession or policing and pursue professional education and training for acceptance into these professions

*Please note that to qualify for the option of completing the LLB (Graduate Entry) in one year, BA(Criminal Justice) students must complete LA4033 (Law of the European Union 1) and LA4044 (Law of the European Union 2) in the 4th year of their degree.

Graduate Profile

David Roche

I have thoroughly enjoyed studying BA Criminal Justice in the University of Limerick. I chose to study Criminal Justice as I was passionate about advocating for people’s rights and in making a positive change in the world.  

This course certainly facilitated my ambitions and I have developed my skills not only academically but within the real world. This course provides you with all of the tools necessary for success. I enjoyed the guest speakers and lecturers who were organized to give us real world insights into several areas of our course.  

I also enjoyed my co-operative placement, I was fortunate enough to have been placed with Cork City Council, which is a highly sought-after placement within the University. I was also fortunate enough to have been called back on several occasions to work with Cork City Council during the holiday periods.  

The course content provides a broad knowledge in the areas of Law, Public Administration, Politics, Psychology and Sociology. I would recommend this course to students who are interested in careers in these fields or who would like to develop a strong understanding of how the everyday systems in our society work both here in Ireland and abroad. This course opens up your potential to work in many of Irelands public bodies as well as providing you with a steppingstone in starting your legal career. I have chosen to pursue a career as a solicitor and have also been fortunate enough thanks to this course to have been given the tools necessary to pursue further legal studies.