BA (Hons) Criminology student Hannah gives her tips on what to read and do during the summer before starting your course at ARU.
A few tips on how to prepare before joining your BA (Hons) Criminology degree.
1. Read the news!
I cannot stress enough the importance of this one. In Criminology, you are often referring to articles, news stories and journalists in the media so it is crucial to stay up to date. This is simple: download a news app (eg BBC News) and spend a few minutes a day strolling through the stories and reading anything that seems relevant (for example policy changes, crime news, terrorism). When you see a news story that is particularly controversial, it is a great idea to research other news websites to see different perspectives of the same story (eg BBC vs The Guardian vs The Times) and note the differences and similarities – for example, how they perceive the offender or victim or how they explain a crime or policy change. This will be extremely useful and a great habit to get familiar with, as you will be doing this throughout your degree.
2. Browse the library
It is never too early to get prepared. Get into your local library or your nearest city library and look at the law/criminology section. Take some time reading around criminological theories, case studies, different types of crime, the media and the criminal justice system. You may feel overwhelmed by how much information is out there but there is no harm in getting used to the different types of textbooks.
3. Specific reading
Please do not buy new and expensive textbooks before you arrive as the reading lists are different each year and you get some money on your Books Plus card to buy them! However, it is a good idea to check out general criminology textbooks that cover everything briefly, for example The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Tim Newburn's Key Readings on Criminology, Criminology, and Handbook of Policing, any Criminology Justice Books, John Muncies' Youth Crime etc. Once you look into these books, others will pop up on the way.
4. Find your interest!
Through all this prep and reading you may figure out where your interest lies. Most topics can be incorporated into the modules and the final assignments. For example, my interest was youth crime and violent crime and I therefore picked the essay questions that focused on these topics – and it is much easier writing an essay you enjoy. This also becomes useful in the final year for your dissertation but you don’t need to worry about that yet.
5. Get your stationery, notes etc in check
It’s a great feeling being prepared for uni, so take a trip to the stationery section or make a detailed list of what to get with your Books Plus before you arrive. From my experience of studying, these are my top buys:
- four thinner notebooks or one big project book, so you can separate your notes for each module and don’t get confused as to which lecture is on which module
- little and big sticky notes are great for marking pages or making quick summaries of a page while you are doing your weekly reading or just general reading, which becomes extremely helpful later on when you are writing your essays and need to look up something quickly
- highlighters are essential when reading through handouts given at lectures or when reading back lecture notes to pick out what is useful
- pens are an obvious buy. Aim for black as that’s needed for exams.
- an academic diary/weekly planner or something similar (I just used a normal notebook and wrote the weeks on it) to plan out your readings, lectures, seminars, assignments and your other life stuff to keep organised. It really does help.
6. Get excited!
With a bit of luck all this prep will get you excited and ready to start your degree. Good luck. I promise you it will be great : )
BA (Hons) Criminology student
If you’re interested in this, or other undergraduate degree courses, find out more at an Open Day.