As of this autumn semester of 2023, the Department of Sociology will offer a Master's programme in criminology in partnership with many institutions in the Icelandic judicial system. The programme will be taught by a large group of experienced instructors from within and outside the University and students will graduate equipped for careers with a range of different institutions working with crime and punishment in Icelandic society.
"In other countries, criminology has expanded rapidly as an independent subject in higher education over the past few decades. Criminology courses at UI have also been very popular and the general significance of criminology has increased," says Margrét Valdimarsdóttir, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Iceland who is part of the team responsible for designing the programme.
Margrét pointed out that several trained criminologists already work in Icelandic law enforcement institutions in areas such as analysis or administration. "The Department of Sociology also has a good group of experts in the subject among teaching staff, so we decided the time had come to offer a postgraduate programme in criminology," explained Margrét, who herself completed a PhD in criminology from the City University of New York three years ago. Besides Margrét, the programme is also designed and will be taught by professors Helgi Gunnlaugsson, Jón Gunnar Bernburg and Þóroddur Bjarnason.
Explaining crime and punishment and looking at the consequences
The new study programme will explore criminal and deviant behaviour from various perspectives, looking at topics such as the role of law enforcement and the judicial system, sexual offences, law and justice. "Criminology is basically about researching the development, origins and consequences of crime and penal law," explains Margrét. As well as the team of academics at UI, experts from the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police and the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police will be involved in teaching the new programme.
Criminology is an interdisciplinary subject, although it has its roots in sociology. "So postgraduate studies in criminology could be a good fit for students with an undergraduate background in most subjects. In other countries, criminology students come from a range of academic backgrounds, including sociology, psychology, law, police science or economics. The programme could appeal to people who work or have worked in the judicial system. Criminology is a subject for anyone interested in the social context of crime, punishment and law enforcement," says Margrét.
Traineeships offered in partnership with various institutions
Students will be able to choose between two specialisations: research-based criminology and practical criminology. Students will also have the opportunity to do traineeships, which could help them to pick a future career. "In recent years, the Department of Sociology has signed partnership agreements with several institutions, such as the Prison and Probation Administration and Statistics Iceland. Our postgraduate students have done vocational training at the Prison and Probation Administration and worked on projects to do with criminology. With this new programme, we plan to further expand this kind of collaboration with the judicial system, aiming to sign comparable agreements with the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police and the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police," says Margrét.
And future graduates will find a world of opportunities open to them. "The research-based programme will benefit people interested in working in research, whether that be data analysis for institutions or academic research. It will also provide students with a solid foundation for doctoral studies in criminology abroad. The practical programme will benefit people interested in working in law enforcement or other areas of the judicial system, social services or other institutions that require knowledge and understanding of how our society works," says Margrét.
You can find out more about the Master's programme in criminology in the UI course catalogue.
"Criminology is basically about researching the development, origins and consequences of crime and penal law," says Margrét, senior lecturer in sociology and criminology and one of the instructors on the new programme.