BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology - University of Portsmouth
BSc (Hons)

Crime and Criminology

A modern study of crime, justice and punishment

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This degree is designed to help you enter or advance a career in criminal justice, by developing your intellectual skills and informing you about key issues in criminology through a well-supported and flexible programme of study. Whether you are contemplating policing, probation, community safety, offender re-settlement, victim support or crime analysis, you’ll enjoy rigorous study of an exciting topic which is regularly in the news and about which we all have views.

Distance Learning

For many students, leaving home for the first time and living independently are important parts of going to university. But for many others, the option to stay at home close to loved ones, family and friends and the support and continuity they provide, is a really attractive alternative.

Distance learning also offers an affordable route to university education, as you face lower fees and save on the expenses of living away from home. Studying at home, an in your own time also allows you to earn while you learn. Being able to work or volunteer whilst studying also means you can gain the invaluable real-world experience that all employers value.

An increasing number of students prefer the learning style afforded by distance learning. Some prefer to move away from classroom-based teaching and many students recognise that their chances of successful study are improved by being away from the distractions that come with a more traditional campus-based lifestyle.

ICJS Distance Learning brochure

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Explore the issues, debates and arguments associated with crime, control and punishment through a regularly updated curriculum.
  • Follow a distance learning course designed to allow you to combine study and work, progressing at your own pace and your own location, with our online learning materials.
  • Gain university credit for your relevant prior learning and experience, allowing you to complete a stage, and therefore the course, in a shorter period.

You can also exit after 18 months of study and achieve a nationally recognised Certificate of Higher Education or exit after 36 months and achieve a nationally recognised Diploma of Higher Education.

What support will I get to help me study?

Support for students is essential to the success of our programmes. Your first year begins with a unit called ‘Studying Criminology’, which addresses many of the things you may be anxious about, from essays to research. And you will not be alone - you can chat online with others in the same position as yourself. There are currently over 300 students studying undergraduate degrees in this way in our department and many are eager to study together online.

You will be invited to an annual induction event in Portsmouth in September, where you can meet the staff and other students, sample traditional forms of learning such as lectures and tutorials, and simply enjoy each others' company. We also provide mentoring and guidance through our evening online seminars, so the advice and help you need is nearby throughout your time with us.

What opportunities might it lead to?

The degree has relevance to a wide variety of occupations. In particular there are units offered on the degree that if you successfully complete would speed the process (and cost) of you becoming a police or probation officer. In relation to becoming a probation officer taking 4 particular units would equate to the Knowledge Modules which are required to commence probation officer training. In regards to both please see further information below.

Other relevant occupations would be things such as crime prevention and community safety, security, youth justice, crime analysts and research, victim support, post-conviction support and work related to the courts and legal system. 

How do I apply?

Whilst we have no formal entry qualifications, we want to be sure that you will be able to complete the course. Please do not assume that university is not for you! Complete your application form and let us know, in detail, about you. We are keen to broaden the range of people who study for, and succeed with, this degree.


Ursula Biggins, BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology student 2017

I found the course to be challenging, interesting and informative. For me it was a positive learning experience and there was a great sense of achievement on completing the course. I would highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in criminology.

Ursula Biggins, BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology student 2017


BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology

Find out from current students what this degree involves and how they’ve found studying with us.

Browse all courses in Law and Criminology

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Structure & Teaching

Stage one

Core units currently include:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Criminal Law and Legal Studies
  • Introduction to Research Skills
  • Social Context of Policing
  • Studying Criminology
  • Understanding Criminology

Stage two

Core units currently include:

  • Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Issues in Criminology
  • Penology
  • Research Methods

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Crime, Media and Culture
  • Frameworks of Investigation
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Investigation
  • Global State & Corporate Security
  • Hate Crime
  • Investigation: Psychology and Law
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders
  • The Fraud Problem
  • Youth Crime, Youth Justice

Stage three

Core units currently include:

  • Dissertation
  • Contemporary Criminologies
  • Victimology - Victimisation and The Criminal Justice System

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Contemporary International Policing Systems
  • Corporate Security
  • Counter-Terrorism & UK National Security
  • Criminal Justice and Minority Groups
  • Critical issues in Public Protection Policing
  • Dangerousness and Dangerous Offenders
  • Gender and Crime
  • Internet Risk and Security
  • Interviewing and Evidence
  • Major Crime Investigation: Success & Failure
  • Organised Crime
  • Private Policing

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

This course is delivered by supported distance learning. You will receive high-quality course materials via Moodle, our online learning environment, and begin your studies with  ‘Studying Criminology’, a unit that addresses many of the things you will be anxious about, such as how to write and structure an academic essay, where and how to undertake research. You will not be alone, as Moodle enables you to chat with fellow students in the same position as yourself, to discuss and present your work, and to keep in contact with tutors.

Induction material received at the beginning of the course will introduce you to the online learning environment and the distance learning facilities offered by the University Library. The university also provides help through the Academic Skills Unit and also resources available through the university library. The support uses a range of methods and supplies responsive, proactive online and telephone support. The Institute also holds two annual events in Portsmouth which you are invited to attend. A two day induction and re-induction event takes place in September and a Study Conference in late January. This is an opportunity for you to meet the staff and other students who you have worked with and to sample more traditional forms of learning such as lectures and tutorials.

Computer use

You will need to have use of a computer and access to the internet. You do not need to be especially computer literate, although typing skills are obviously useful.

Course materials, discussions and seminars are contained in an online learning environment called Moodle. The tools and resources available in Moodle are designed to guide and support your learning and study. You can to access the resources in Moodle whenever or wherever you are (as long as you have access to the internet).

You will be introduced and shown how to access and make use of the tools and resources in Moodle during the induction period though ongoing support and assistance is available throughout your study on the course.

If you don’t have access to the internet you will be at a disadvantage since you won’t be able to make use of the tools and resources available. Moodle is designed to be used via a computer. You may be able to access some of the resources through a tablet or smart phone but the functionality will be limited and slower than if you use a computer.

How are you assessed?

All the units in this course are assessed by essays and reports. Essay titles are provided at the beginning of the academic year. Unit materials often contain interactive exercises to encourage you to think and write about the issues being discussed, to test and encourage your learning.

You will receive feedback on your assessed essays, which will indicate what you need to do to obtain better marks in your next essay, alongside the criteria against which your essay was marked. As marks obtained in the first year do not count towards the classification of the degree, you will have time to hone your essay writing skills.

Video Description

An animation that explains how you study on an Institute of Criminal Justice Studies distance learning degree and the benefits of studying at a distance.

Tutor View


Marc Jacobs
Crime and Criminology Course Leader

The course is of particular interest to those with an intellectual curiosity concerning matters relating to crime and criminology. The course begins with more broad and introductory matters. However as you progress through your studies you are to specialise in particular areas. These areas may be chosen because they relate to your intellectual interests or because they help towards entering a related career or, for those already working, enhance prospects of promotion.

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Facilities & Features


The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies was founded in 1992 and has since grown to comprise 50 academic staff and more than 1,800 students. Now an internationally-renowned focal point for the study of crime and criminal justice processes, it draws together expertise in criminological analysis, applied psychology, police governance and management, victimology, penology, risk and security.

Professional Links

Our extensive experience and close professional relationships with the police service and criminal justice agencies ensure that our courses reflect the changing needs of the profession. You may benefit from these links by hearing guest speakers, listening to leading-edge research and being helped to find professional work placements.

Distance Learning

Our distinctive approach to well-supported distance learning, robust procedures for the accreditation of prior learning, and modular award framework not only help facilitate access to higher education but also offer flexible and transferable platforms for life-long learning.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

You may be required to pay for travel, accommodation and subsistence to attend our optional campus induction events and study days. These may be in the region of £50 - £500.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Current students have roles in various areas of the justice and law enforcement such as magistrates, police officers and airport security. Others are employed in work which is unrelated to criminology. Your study will lead to a broad range of academic skills that are valuable in many professions both in and beyond the criminal justice sector. The University’s Careers Service can offer further advice for those seeking new employment challenges.

Initial training

Initial training
Prepare for criminal justice careers

This course offers four units that are equivalent to the four knowledge modules demanded by the Probation Officer training framework (Community Justice Learning). More information on the Community Justice Learning framework can be found at or

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Adam Worth, BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology student 2017

This course provided me with a wider context to policing that I had not experienced in the eleven years in the police. From a development perspective I am now drawn to academic research in my current area of policing, something which would have been previously daunting to me.

Adam Worth, BSc (Hons) Crime and Criminology student 2017

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Open days and apply now

Online application form

Your application will be received by the University's Admissions Team before being transferred to individual departments for consideration and processing.

Open days for distance learners

Undergraduate courses

We will be holding Virtual Open Days for our part-time distance learning courses. This is an exciting opportunity for you to talk to staff and to ask any questions about the degrees and the application process. Our 2018 Virtual Days will be taking place on the following dates:

  • 15 May 3-5pm
  • 19 June 3-5pm
  • 11 July 7-9pm
  • 15 August 7-9pm
  • 5 September 7-9pm

Register for a reminder

Postgraduate courses

We will confirm the dates of our Postgraduate Information Days for 2018 entry soon. Register below to get a reminder when booking opens.

Register for a reminder

International Students

Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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