Policing and Investigation (Distance Learning) BSc (Hons)

Police tape secures an investigation site
Mode of Study
Part-time by distance learning
4.5 years part-time distance learning
Start Date
September 2022


Explore and analyse areas critical to policing and investigation – such as criminal justice, the legal system and public protection – that you can use to:

  • qualify for the degree-holder entry programme to the police service in England or Wales
  • level up from your current role in the police to a senior or specialised role
  • turn a general interest in policing into academic and professional expertise in policing and criminal investigation

This BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation degree course is a part-time, distance learning course, which you can study around your other commitments, anywhere that suits you.

If you're planning a career in policing and related areas (such as investigative criminal profiling, police oversight bodies, or financial investigation in banking), you'll develop the practical skills you'll need in your future career. 

If you’re already a serving police officer, you'll specialise in areas that could enhance your contribution to your organisation, increasing your potential to level up in a new role and achieve a higher salary.

Course highlights

  • Transform a passion for the criminal justice system into a rewarding career, with optional modules to suit your ambitions such as cybercrime, forensic psychology, contemporary terrorism and rehabilitation
  • Have the freedom to choose a final year project topic that suits your career goals – previous students have focused on areas including human trafficking, domestic abuse, terrorism, county lines drug trafficking and the retention of special constables
  • Be taught by leading academics from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, whose research areas include forensic interviewing and science, economic crime and cybercrime
  • Have the chance to use on-the-job experience as proof of relevant prior learning to complete the course quicker

Benefits of distance learning

  • Work from anywhere, at your own pace, in your own time – with interactive online learning materials hosted on our virtual learning environment, Moodle, and available 24/7 on any device
  • Access to over 600,000 ebooks, 55,000 online journals, digital newspapers and a postal loan service from our University Library – see all library support for distance learners
  • Invitations to online forums where you can discuss your studies with other students and your lecturers
  • Access to all student support services via email, phone, online chat or video call

Entry requirements​

BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation (Distance Learning) degree entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • There are no specific qualification requirements, we will assess your application on its own merits. Applicants may be required to produce a short written artefact to better assist the course leader as to the suitability of the applicant.

See full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept

English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Careers and opportunities

Society relies on the police force, and those that study effective policing, to keep communities safe.

This means there will always be a demand for the skills you develop on this course – whether you're just starting out, upskilling in your current role or planning to put your skills and knowledge to use through consultancy, investigation or research.


"An in-year grant commenced in the financial year ending March 2020 to support the recruitment of new officers as a part of the Police Uplift Programme. The programme aims to deliver the manifesto commitment to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 31 March 2023."

UK Gov

Police funding for England and Wales 2015 to 2022 (15 July 2021)

Careers in the police

If you want a career in the police in England or Wales, this degree qualifies you for one of the College of Policing’s entry routes to the police service.

If you're planning to stay with your current force after graduating, you could use this degree course to secure a more senior or specialised role.

But you could also apply the skills and knowledge you develop on this course to any number of roles across multiple industries. As well as equipping you to become a confident police officer, this course opens up a range of other opportunities.

What areas can you work in with a policing and investigation degree outside the police force?

You could join the public sector, working for organisations including:

  • the Probation Service
  • the National Crime Agency
  • Department for Work and Pensions – investigating fraud
  • HMRC– investigating smuggling

You could join the private sector, working for organisations including:

  • banks and financial institutions – investigating fraud
  • insurance companies – investigating false claims
  • legal firms – assisting in legal cases
  • loss prevention and private security companies
  • private investigation firms

What jobs can you do with a policing and investigation degree?

You could take on various roles, both within and outside the police force, including:

  • crime scene investigator
  • police staff investigator within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
  • intelligence analyst and researcher
  • private investigator
  • security analyst

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

What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Policing and Investigation degree

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits. As a distance learning student, you'll study modules worth a total of 80 credits each year. This will be a combination of core modules, worth 40 credits each, and optional modules worth 20 credits each.

A degree is split into three levels (level 4, level 5 and level 6), each made up of modules worth a total of 120 credits. Completing all three levels of this course takes 4 and a half years.

Modules currently being studied

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5

Core modules include

  • Essential Skills for Criminal Justice Studies (Level 4; 40 credits)
  • Criminal Justice and the Legal System (Level 4; 40 credits)

There are no optional modules in this stage.

Core modules include

  • Fundamentals of Policing and Investigation (Level 4; 40 credits)
  • Policing and Society (Level 5; 40 credits)

There are no optional modules in this stage.

Core modules include

  • Research Methods and Analysis (Level 5; 40 credits)

You'll select two optional modules from the list below (Level 5; 20 credits each)

  • Forensic Psychology: Investigation
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Investigation
  • Cybercrime and Security
  • Organised Crime
  • Victimology - Victimisation and the Criminal Justice System
  • Advanced Investigation and Operational Policing
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders
  • Contemporary Terrorism and the Global Response

Core modules include

  • Specialist Policing: Major Crime and Public Protection (Level 6; 40 credits)

You'll select two optional modules from the list below (Level 5; 20 credits each)

  • Forensic Psychology: Investigation
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Investigation
  • Cybercrime and Security
  • Organised Crime
  • Victimology - Victimisation and the Criminal Justice System
  • Advanced Investigation and Operational Policing
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders
  • Contemporary Terrorism and the Global Response

Core modules include

  • Dissertation (Level 6; 40 credits)

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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.


This course is delivered by supported distance learning. You will receive high-quality course materials via Moodle, our online learning environment.

You'll get to chat with fellow students, discuss and present your work and keep in touch with tutors. You'll get plenty of support throughout your studies, including help on writing and structuring essays, and how to undertake research.

You'll need access to a computer and a web connection. You may be able to access some of the resources through a tablet or smartphone, with limited functionality. You don't need to be especially computer literate, although typing skills are useful.

Your teaching staff

You'll be taught by active researchers from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the largest university criminology department in the UK.

Hear Dr Sarah Charman, coordinator of the Policing and Society module, and research colleagues discussing the issues that have come with police enforcement of temporary legislation during the pandemic, and the impact of this on the police and the public.

How you'll spend your time

This distance learning course allows you to combine study and work, progressing at your own pace.

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through essays and reports, with essay titles provided at the beginning of the academic year. You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

The way you’re assessed will depend on the modules you select throughout your course. Here's an example from a previous year of how students on this course were typically assessed:

  • Stage 1 students: 100% by coursework
  • Stage 2 students: 100% by coursework
  • Stage 3 students: 100% by coursework

Supporting your learning

As a distance learner, you can get support via video and phone from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next scheduled meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning development tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • Understanding and using assignment feedback
  • Managing your time and workload
  • Revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • Academic writing
  • Note taking
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation skills
  • Referencing
  • Working in groups
  • Revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2022 start)

  • UK/Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and International students – £3,080 per year (years 1-4) and £1,540 a year (year 5) (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £3,080 per year (years 1-4) and £1,540 a year (year 5) (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.

Additional costs

You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

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

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.

You may need to pay additional travel, accommodation and subsistence costs, of £50–£500 to attend our optional campus induction events and study days.


How to apply

Apply for this part-time course using our online application form.

Our courses fill up quickly, so submit your application as soon as you decide which course you want to study.

How to apply from outside the UK

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly (see the 'How to apply' section above) or get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section. 

If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.

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