The Law Faculty at Istanbul University, a Partner of the MPPG, Takes the Lead to Establish the First M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Turkey
The lack of criminology as an institutionalized discipline in the Balkan region has been the main impetus behind the initiative which brought all partners of the Max Planck Partner Group for Balkan Criminology (MPPG) together in Zagreb in 2013. The first volume which launched the new Balkan Criminology publication series in 2014, Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans: A Survey on Criminology and Crime with an Expedition into the Criminal Landscape of the Balkans, (1) clearly presented the current situation in criminological education and research in fourteen Balkan and relevant neighbouring countries. Getoš Kalac (2014:30) very well summarised the main findings of this survey, pointing out some common features with regard to the situation of criminology across the region: (2) “...criminology’s weak position at law faculties, unavailability of up to date domestic criminological textbooks and specialized scientific journals, underdeveloped criminological scientific communities at the national level, underrepresentation of Balkan-topics and researchers at the ESC annual gatherings, lack of specialized criminological graduate and post-graduate study programmes and as a consequence unavailability of criminological ‘offspring’, weak inclusion in European and international research projects etc.” Unfortunately, Turkey is no exception. Despite the fact that criminology, as the scientific study of the extent, nature, causes and prevention of crime, has significant implications for criminal law and criminal justice policy and practice, criminological education and research is in infancy in Turkey, and criminology as a discipline is not accepted as a policy-making tool. Given the obvious link between research and education, in their country report Sözüer and Topçuoğlu (2014:393) concluded by pointing out “the urgent need for the scientific development of the criminology discipline in terms of theory, research and practice, which in turn initially requires the presence of comprehensive criminological education programmes at universities”. (3) As a partner of the MPPG, we are very proud to share the good news that the Faculty of Law at Istanbul University has taken a move to fill this gap and will start offering a two-year M.A. programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice in the academic year 2017/2018.
The development of criminology as a discipline in Turkey owes much to the endeavours of the honourable members of the Faculty of Law at Istanbul University. Criminological institutionalization took off in 1943 in Turkey with the establishment of the Criminal Law and Criminology Research and Application Centre, initially as the first Institute of Criminology at the Law Faculty of Istanbul University. Ten years later, criminology, for the first time, was taught as an elective undergraduate course in 1953. (4) As of 2017, however, almost 75 years after the establishment of the first Institute of Criminology in Turkey, there is still no undergraduate degree programme in criminology in Turkey. Moreover, the Turkish classification system of sciences does not recognize criminology as a separate field under the social sciences. Even those criminologists who want to apply for an associate professorship in criminology have to apply for the field of “social policy”. Criminological education in Turkey is partly provided through undergraduate and graduate elective courses taught within the Departments of Criminal and Criminal Procedure Law (at Law Faculties), Departments of Sociology (at Faculty of Arts and Sciences), and within the Institutes of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science.
The Turkish National Police Academy and the Turkish Military Academy in Ankara are two exceptions. Initially founded as a higher education in-service training agency with a one-year curriculum in 1937, the Academy was reorganized and gained university status in 2001 with the Faculty of Security Sciences, the Institute of Security Sciences and 27 police vocational schools of higher education. Although the Faculty of Security Sciences, which used to offer a B.A. degree in Security Science, was closed in 2015, the Institute of Security Sciences continues to offer a two-year master course in seven areas (Forensic Sciences, Criminal Justice, Security Strategies and Administration, Crime Studies, Criminology and Crime Prevention, Transportation Security and Management, and International Security) and a four-year Ph.D. programme in two areas (Security Strategies and Administration, and International Security). (5) Besides the Police Academy, the Institute of Defense Sciences at the Turkish Military Academy also offers a two-year master course in crime studies.
Yet despite the achievements in the field of criminology over the past years and the significance of the discipline in developing evidence-based crime prevention and intervention strategies, a fully-fledged education in criminology and criminal justice in terms of theory, research and practice is currently absent in Turkey. The Law Faculty at Istanbul University – also a partner of the Max Planck Partner Group for Balkan Criminology – aims to fill this gap by taking the lead to establish the first M.A. programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Turkey, owing much to the effort and constant support of the Faculty Dean and the Chair of the Department of Criminal and Criminal Procedure Law, Prof. Adem Sözüer, as well as the members of the Law Faculty and other Departments at Istanbul University.
This M.A. programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a two-year programme based under the Department of Public Law (Kamu Hukuku Anabilim Dalı) at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Istanbul (İ.Ü. Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü). The programme is currently offered in Turkish. The first year of the study requires students to successfully complete advanced coursework (min. 30 credits or 66 ECTS), and in the second year this is followed by a research-based master’s thesis (60 ECTS). With an appreciation for interdisciplinary studies as the only way to confront the complexity of issues of crime and criminal justice, we accept students from any scientific background and provide them with the opportunity to explore various areas of study through a range of courses taught by scholars from different disciplines relevant to the study of criminology.
In the first year, the M.A. programme offers compulsory and optional courses. The compulsory courses include Criminological Theories, Criminological Research Methods and Applied Statistics Using SPSS; these courses aim to offer students a sound background in theory and research and a comprehensive methodological training. The programme also offers various optional courses, such as Criminal Justice System, Juristic Psychology, Forensic Sciences, Victimology, Comparative Criminal Justice, Sociology of Crime and Corrections, to help students develop interdisciplinary skills and gain an understanding of the functioning of the criminal justice system from a criminological perspective. There is still no single department of criminology which offers a B.A. degree in criminology in Turkey, but we very much hope that this M.A. programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice will pave the way for the further institutionalisation of criminology as an academic discipline in Turkey and that there will soon (hopefully in two tears time) be an accompanying Ph.D. program in Criminology that will train criminologists, who in turn will advance criminological and criminal justice research and teaching in Turkey.
Assist. Prof. Dr. Tuba Topçuoğlu,
Assistant Professor of Criminology at the Faculty of
Law, University of Istanbul, Turkey,
(1) Getoš Kalac, A.-M., Albrecht, H.-J. & Kilchling, M. (Eds.) Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans: A Survey on Criminology and Crime with an Expedition into the Criminal Landscape of the Balkans. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.
(2) Getoš Kalac, A.-M. (2014). “Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans”. In: Getoš Kalac, A.-M., Albrecht, H.-J. & Kilchling, M. (Eds.) Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans: A Survey on Criminology and Crime with an Expedition into the Criminal Landscape of the Balkans, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot,
(3) Sözüer, A. & Topçuoğlu, T. (2014). “Criminology and Crime in Turkey”. In: Getoš Kalac, A.-M., Albrecht, H.-J. & Kilchling, M. (Eds.) Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans: A Survey on Criminology and Crime with an Expedition into the Criminal Landscape of the Balkans, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 377-397.
(4) Dönmezer, S. (1994). Kriminoloji. (8th ed.). Istanbul.
(5) See https://www.pa.edu.tr/Default.aspx?page= EgitimBirimleri&GUID=dc9fb08d-0a56-4861-896e-043125798cc6&id=5c034239-17ad-4645-8954-0ccb62a83da4 [28.04.2017].