Best Criminology Universities in Europe

Criminology, the scientific study of crime, criminals, and the criminal justice system plays a pivotal role in understanding the complexities of law and order.

As crime continues to evolve in its forms and methods, the demand for skilled criminologists who can analyze, predict, and counter criminal activities has grown significantly. 

Europe, renowned for its rich academic landscape, hosts some of the finest institutions offering criminology programs.

This article delves into the intricacies of criminology education in Europe, highlighting the best criminology universities that equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle the challenges of crime in the 21st century.

Methodology of Selection

Selecting the best criminology universities involves a meticulous evaluation process that takes into account various critical factors.

  • Academic Reputation and Rankings: The reputation of a university in the academic world contributes significantly to its credibility. Rankings by respected organizations provide insight into the institution’s global standing and the quality of education it offers.
  • Research Contributions in Criminology: Universities that actively contribute to the advancement of criminology through research, publications, and innovative studies earn recognition as leaders in the field.
  • Faculty Expertise and Credentials: Renowned criminology universities boast faculty members with diverse expertise, often comprising seasoned criminologists, legal experts, psychologists, sociologists, and law enforcement professionals.
  • Facilities and Resources for Criminology Studies: State-of-the-art laboratories, research centers, libraries, and technology resources enhance the learning experience and research capabilities of criminology students.
  • Alumni Success and Industry Connections: The success of alumni in various criminology-related professions reflects the quality of education and the university’s industry connections.

Top Criminology Universities in Europe

Criminology in Europe
Image Credit:

Europe boasts a plethora of criminology universities that have earned global recognition for their excellence in education, research, and industry connections.

Here, we delve into the detailed overviews of five top criminology universities that stand out as leaders in shaping the field.

1. University of Cambridge – Institute of Criminology

The Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge was established in 1959, marking a pivotal moment in the advancement of criminological studies. Situated in the historic city of Cambridge, United Kingdom, the institute benefits from the university’s prestigious heritage while embracing modern innovation.

Known for its intellectual vibrancy, the institute’s campus is a melting pot of ideas and scholarly pursuits. Students and faculty alike engage in spirited debates, collaborative research projects, and seminars that encourage critical thinking and diverse perspectives.

Among the esteemed faculty members, Dr. Lawrence Sherman stands out for his exceptional contributions. A pioneering criminologist, his groundbreaking work in evidence-based policing has redefined law enforcement strategies globally, leading to tangible reductions in crime rates in various communities.

The institute’s partnership with local law enforcement agencies offers students the unparalleled opportunity to actively participate in real-world research projects.

Students gain insights into the practical application of criminological theories, fostering a deep understanding of how their studies translate to the field.

The institute’s research centers explore a wide array of topics, including cybercrime, criminal justice policy, and social inequality.

Students are encouraged to collaborate on projects that contribute to solving real-world crime challenges, leveraging the resources and expertise available within the university and the broader academic community.

2. University of Leuven – Institute of Criminology

The Institute of Criminology at the University of Leuven has a storied history dating back to its foundation in 1425. Situated in the charming city of Leuven, Belgium, the university’s centuries-old legacy lends an air of academic distinction to its modern endeavors.

The institute’s campus is a dynamic hub of criminological exploration. Students actively engage with local criminal justice agencies, participating in internships, workshops, and seminars that bridge theoretical knowledge with practical application.

Dr. Els Enhus, a prominent criminologist at the institute, specializes in the study of policing, surveillance, and technology. Her research delves into the intricate interplay between law enforcement, privacy concerns, and technological advancements.

The university’s close collaboration with local law enforcement agencies provides students with direct exposure to real-world crime-solving scenarios. Internships and hands-on experiences complement classroom learning, giving students a holistic understanding of criminology in action.

The institute’s research initiatives focus on contemporary challenges, including cybercrime, urban safety, and criminal justice reform. This research informs both policy discussions and the practical implementation of strategies to address pressing issues in society.

3. University of Oslo – Faculty of Law

The University of Oslo, established in 1811, boasts a prestigious history that enriches its Faculty of Law. Nestled in Oslo, Norway, the faculty benefits from the city’s progressive mindset and its commitment to human rights and social justice.

The Faculty of Law provides a nurturing environment for students to engage in legal scholarship and criminological research. Discussions, seminars, and research projects reflect the faculty’s dedication to addressing real-world challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dr. Katja Franko Aas, a leading expert in border control, surveillance, and technology, contributes significantly to the faculty’s criminology initiatives. Her research critically examines the implications of security measures on civil liberties and human rights.

Oslo’s location offers students the opportunity to study the Nordic model of criminal justice, exploring innovative approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration. The faculty’s research centers delve into a range of topics, including human trafficking, organized crime, and prison reform.

The faculty’s commitment to fostering an international outlook is reflected in its research collaborations and partnerships with universities and institutions worldwide. This exposes students to a diverse range of perspectives, enriching their criminological education.

4. University of Bologna – Department of Legal Studies

The University of Bologna, established in 1088, carries a legacy of academic excellence. The Department of Legal Studies, situated in Bologna, Italy, combines historical significance with a modern approach to legal education.

The department’s campus fosters an atmosphere of intellectual exploration and scholarly inquiry. Students are encouraged to engage in discussions, research projects, and seminars that delve into the nuances of criminal law and justice.

Professor Stefano Canestrari, a distinguished criminal lawyer, contributes to the department’s criminology initiatives. His expertise in criminal procedure and justice reform informs policy discussions and shapes the next generation of legal professionals.

Bologna’s connection to Italian legal institutions provides students with the opportunity to observe court proceedings and interact with criminal justice professionals.

The department’s research centers delve into topics such as organized crime, corruption, and criminal legislation, enhancing students’ understanding of contemporary challenges.

The department’s emphasis on comprehensive legal education ensures that students gain insights into not only criminological theories but also their practical implications in the legal landscape. This well-rounded approach equips graduates with a strong foundation for their careers.

5. University of Edinburgh – School of Law

Established in 1582, the University of Edinburgh’s rich history is reflected in its School of Law. Situated in Edinburgh, Scotland, the school benefits from the city’s vibrant culture and its reputation as a center of legal scholarship.

The School of Law fosters a culture of intellectual curiosity and interdisciplinary engagement. Students partake in debates, discussions, and research projects that explore the intersections of law and society.

Dr. Liz Aston, an esteemed criminologist at the school, specializes in gender-based violence and criminal justice. Her research sheds light on issues of social inequality, policy reform, and the broader implications of the criminal justice system.

The school’s location in Scotland provides students with the opportunity to study the unique Scottish legal system, gaining insights into its distinctive criminal justice framework.

Research centers focus on topics such as youth justice, hate crime, and criminal sentencing, aligning with contemporary challenges in criminology.

The school’s commitment to international collaborations and research partnerships exposes students to a diverse range of perspectives on crime and justice. This global outlook enhances students’ understanding of criminological issues from a multifaceted lens.

Notable Trends and Innovations

The landscape of criminology education in Europe is evolving to address the changing nature of crime and criminal behavior.

  • Integration of Technology: Many top criminology universities are incorporating technology-driven courses, enabling students to analyze digital evidence, study cybercrime, and understand the impact of technology on crime patterns.
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches: The best universities encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, recognizing that addressing crime requires insights from psychology, sociology, law, and more.
  • Focus on Emerging Crimes: White-collar crime, cybercrime, and global security challenges are gaining prominence in curricula as universities adapt to the modern crime landscape.
  • Restorative Justice and Community Interventions: European universities are increasingly exploring alternative approaches to criminal justice, emphasizing rehabilitation and community-based interventions over punitive measures.

Alumni Insights and Career Prospects

Criminology graduates from top European universities enjoy a wide range of career opportunities.

  • Diverse Career Paths: Alumni can pursue careers in law enforcement, criminal investigation, policy analysis, research, academia, and international organizations.
  • Success Stories: Sarah Bennett, a graduate of one of these universities, has become a respected criminal profiler. Her expertise in behavioral analysis has aided law enforcement agencies in solving complex cases.
  • Networking and Internships: The connections made during university years and internships play a crucial role in shaping graduates’ careers, as they often lead to job offers and mentorship opportunities.

Challenges and Future of Criminology Education

Despite the successes of criminology education in Europe, challenges remain.

  • Evolving Nature of Crime: Universities need to continuously update their curricula to address emerging crimes, such as cybercrime, and equip students with the latest tools for analysis.
  • Ethical Considerations: As the field advances, universities must navigate ethical challenges, such as ensuring student research respects human rights and privacy.
  • Skilled Professionals Shortage: The demand for skilled criminology professionals exceeds supply, highlighting the need for universities to produce more graduates equipped for roles in law enforcement, policy, and academia.


Europe’s top criminology universities serve as beacons of education, research, and innovation in the realm of crime and justice. Through rigorous academic programs, groundbreaking research, and strong industry connections, these institutions equip students to address the complexities of crime and contribute to safer societies. 

As the world grapples with ever-evolving criminal challenges, the importance of these universities and their graduates in shaping the future of criminology cannot be overstated.

Prospective students interested in the field have a plethora of opportunities to explore, learn, and contribute to a more just and secure world.

Additional Posts:

  1. Best Universities in Chicago for International Students
  2. Best Universities for Masters in Telecommunication Engineering
  3. Best Marketing Universities in Europe
  4. Best Cybersecurity Universities in Europe
  5. Best Universities for International Security Studies