Criminologists examine the systems which bring people accused of crimes, to justice. They attempt to explain the reasons for criminal behaviour and suggest ways of reducing crime. They study the ways that certain criminal justice agencies operate, including the law courts, police services, prisons and community-based correction centres.

Criminologists analyse and interpret data received on the incidence of crime and the operation of the justice system and are thus able to provide information about crime and the ways in which people are processed by the criminal justice system.

They also catalogue information about the possible causes of crime and the crimes committed and compile crime statistics and develop ways in which crime-solving resources can be best used. Criminologists analyse and develop crime prevention strategies and generally evaluate all aspects of crime and the criminal justice system. They research criminological issues such as those pertaining to offenders, victims of crime and sentencing.

Criminologists may specialise in organisational research, victimology, corporate crime or juvenile justice. They may work in the legal field that tries to ensure that laws keep up with changes in society. They may also work in the social / psychological fields, which study the effects of the criminal justice system or the factors that contribute to offending behaviour by individuals.

Personal Requirements

  • analytical skills
  • personal integrity
  • interest in welfare and human behaviour
  • interest in marginalised and disadvantaged groups
  • analytical and statistical skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BA or BSc with relevant majors, such as: Criminology - UFS, UNISA, UCT, Monash, UP
Criminal Justice - UCT, Monash, Intec, Damelin
Criminal Law - UCT, UFS, UNISA.
Other useful courses - Statistics, Sociology, Social Anthropology etc.


  • government departments
  • tertiary institutions, universities as academics and researchers
  • department of justice, as research officers and advisers on policy, law reform, juvenile justice, crime statistics and adult correction
  • police departments, courts, corrective institutions
  • private welfare agencies

Further Information

Department of Justice
329 Pretorius Street (Corner Pretorius and Prinsloo/Sisulu Street)
Tel: (012) 315-1111

Getting Started

  • become computer literate
  • try to obtain part-time or holiday work in a legal field
  • volunteer for your local neighbourhood watch
  • speak to a criminologist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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