The field of criminal justice has expanded significantly over the past decade, not only pertaining to the police and the prison system, but also in the fields of community sentencing and youth justice.
An LLM in Criminal Law brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of crime and disorder. It incorporates criminal law and procedure and the traditional theoretical concerns of criminology; such as theories of crime causation and crime prevention, traditional and radical penology and restorative justice. It also scrutinizes the criminal justice system from a range of other perspectives, including the management of organizations, the psychological and sociological causes of criminal behavior and social and economic positions.
Courses normally include advanced study of key law and policy developments regarding areas such as policing and crime prevention, the role and legitimate interests of victims, sentencing and other judicial decisions, the use of custodial and non-custodial punishments. In addition, numerous key concepts are normally discussed and examined, such as: miscarriages of justice; effective and efficient criminal justice processes; competing rights and duties between victims and offenders and between the individual and public interest; equal treatment on grounds of gender, class, race and ethnicity and other factors of diversity.
In many institutions, there are also courses on research methods, focusing on the specific requirements of criminal justice.
The majority of LLM in Criminal Law programs are designed for those who already work, or intend to work, within the criminal justice system, whether for the police, probation service, prisons service or other organizations.
The LLM in Criminal Law can sometimes be taken on both a full-time or part-time basis. At many universities, full-time students complete the program over one academic year, while some allow students to participate on a part-time basis over two academic years.