BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation - University of Portsmouth
BSc (Hons)

Policing and Investigation

Create opportunities for your career in policing and criminal investigations through a flexible, part-time course.

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This course explores the many and diverse challenges confronting the policing and investigation sector and provides you with the opportunity to develop an in-depth knowledge of contemporary policing and investigative issues. You will also develop a range of critical and analytical research skills which can be used in a range of different professional contexts. The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies is the leading UK centre for research and learning in criminal justice and you will benefit from the expertise of academic staff who have considerable academic and professional experience in policing and investigative work. 

The course will appeal to students seeking an alternative to full-time, campus based study who are simply interested in how policing and investigation works, or who are attracted to a potential career in the field of policing and/or investigation. It will certainly appeal to professionals working in either the policing or investigation sector who are seeking to enhance their critical and analytical skills and their career and promotion prospects.

ICJS Distance Learning brochure

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Develop academic and professional expertise in policing and criminal investigation.
  • Specialise in the areas of these fields that interest you.
  • Follow a distance learning course designed to allow you to combine study and work, progressing at your own pace and in your own location, with our interactive 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.

We are keen to broaden the range of people who study with us, and offer a system to convert your prior learning in work or volunteering into university credit. Those who have completed an appropriate Foundation degree can do the final year of this course and gain a full honours degree.

Students 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 opportunities might it lead to?

Graduates will be well-equipped for employment in the police, the Civil Service, local government and other public and private sector bodies which have many openings for criminal investigators, police staff, analysts and researchers.  The programme also covers a range of criminal justice issues while developing the wider skills necessary to produce a portfolio of knowledge and abilities that supports career development opportunities in a wider range of careers, or postgraduate study. 

How do I apply?

Complete the University's online application form (not a UCAS form). 

All applicants should apply as soon as possible to reserve a place and ensure adequate preparations are made for the start of your studies.


Eirikur Valberg, BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation student 2016

In a rapidly changing and evolving world with increasing demands upon the police, this course draws on very relevant and applied issues, and has helped me develop as a professional.

Eirikur Valberg, BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation student 2016


BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation

Academics and students talk about the online course BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation.

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Structure & Teaching

Stage one

Core units currently include:

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

Stage two

Core units currently include:

  • Frameworks of Investigation
  • Investigation: Psychology and Law
  • Police Operations and Policing Processes
  • Research Methods

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Anti-Fraud Strategies
  • Business Continuity and Crisis Management
  • Crime, Media and Culture
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Investigation
  • Global, State and Corporate Security
  • Hate Crime
  • Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Issues in Criminology
  • Penology
  • Risk Management
  • The Fraud Problem
  • Youth Crime, Youth Justice

Stage three

Core units currently include:

  • Critical Issues in Public Protection Policing
  • Major Crime Investigation - Success and Failure
  • Dissertation

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Business Administration in the Security and Justice Sectors
  • Contemporary International Policing Systems
  • Counter Terrorism and UK National Security
  • Criminal Justice and Minority Groups
  • Dangerousness and Dangerous Offenders
  • Internet Risk and Security
  • Interviewing and Evidence
  • Organised Crime
  • Private Policing
  • Victimology – Victimisation and the Criminal Justice System

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.

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.



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.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 0% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 100% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 2% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 98% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 0% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 100% studying independently and 0% on work placement


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.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
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


John Fox
Policing and Investigation Course Leader

I believe that 'policing', in its widest sense, is going through unprecedented changes, and that those involved in policing face new investigative challenges such as human trafficking, cybercrime, and child sexual exploitation.

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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.

Distance Learning

Our distinctive approach to 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?

This course will significantly enhance your employability and career prospects as there are a wide range of careers in this sector which graduates can pursue. You will also be equipped to follow master's degrees, including our MSc Crime Science, Investigation and Intelligence, which is particularly suited to graduates from this programme who wish to specialise in criminal investigation.

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.

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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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