Criminal Justice


Certificate in Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Criminal Justice
Graduate Diploma in Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice_Prisons and Corrections field trip

Restricted/Photo supplied by Corrections New Zealand. Photo of a UC field trip to Christchurch Men's Prison for the CRJU302 Prisons and Corrections course, under the guidance of Professor Greg Newbold. This course is taken as part of a Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree.


Criminal Justice looks at the criminal justice process and the treatment of offenders and victims. It is a multi-disciplinary field of study which seeks to draw together elements of many areas, including:

  • policing
  • developmental and abnormal psychology
  • criminal law and procedure
  • sentencing and the treatment of convicted offenders.

Criminology, which forms a subset of topics within Criminal Justice, primarily focuses on the theory and sociology of crime and is often less concerned with practical issues. The Bachelor of Criminal Justice (BCJ) however, builds on academic theories of crime and its causes and the research that underpins those theories, before going on to assess the criminal justice process itself; the law, policies and institutions that make up this system.

Why study Criminal Justice at UC?

The three-year Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree is the only qualification of its kind in the country so the opportunities presented to students are unique and help give graduates an edge in the New Zealand crime and justice sectors as well as in an area of growing international popularity.

The innovative degree programme draws on UC’s internationally recognised expertise in Sociology, Criminal Law, Human Services and Psychology.

UC enjoys close links with employers in the crime and justice fields and has received enthusiastic support from the New Zealand Police, Department of Corrections and Ministry of Justice. Teachers and tutors will challenge you to interpret legislation, examine what works well with current policies and identify opportunities for reform.

Due to the vocational nature of the degree, there is the potential to study while employed in the area to increase professional competencies.


See all Criminal Justice courses

100-level courses

CRJU101 Introduction to Criminal Justice is an introductory level course designed to engage students with the criminal justice field and to equip them with the basic knowledge and understanding necessary for advanced level study.

200-level and beyond

CRJU201 Crime and Justice is a compulsory course for the BCJ. This course introduces students to criminological theory and demonstrates how these theories can be applied to understanding of crime in New Zealand.

Criminal Justice courses at 200 and 300-level cover a range of topics including sentencing policy and practice, theories of policing and their effects on criminal justice policy, as well as familiarity with the range of police powers of search and arrest. Research essay courses are available at both 200 and 300-level, enabling you to undertake in-depth study of areas of interest in the criminal justice field.

Double degree

Students can combine study of a BCJ with that of another degree, making it a popular combination eg, with the Bachelor of Laws or the Bachelor of Arts. These double degree combinations can usually be completed in five to five-and-a-half years. If you wish to pursue a double degree, please speak with a Liaison Officer or School of Law Student Advsor.

Career opportunities

You will find a degree in Criminal Justice will prepare you for careers in all aspects of criminal justice, in particular, roles within the New Zealand Police, Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections. Your Criminal Justice degree is also likely to be applicable to working in many government departments, including prisons, probation and parole, in criminal justice policy, forensics, customs or public and private investigation and security.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Criminal Justice.

More information

School of Law

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Postal address
College of Business and Law | Te Rāngai Umanga me te Ture
University of Canterbury | 
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Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Tori McNoe

Tori McNoe

'By coming here there is nothing to lose and everything to gain...'

Annabel Frost

Annabel Frost

'Taking the 200-level Crime and Justice paper really sparked my interest...'