Hands holding a test tube containing a forensic sample

Mode of Study

Part-time by distance learning


2 years part-time

Start date

September 2023


Learn to harness the latest scientific techniques to help prevent, solve and study crime on this flexible Master's in Crime Science, accessible via distance learning.

You'll discover how the application of science helps unlock the how and why behind criminal activity, form strategies for crime prevention and ensure perpetrators are identified and apprehended.

Whether or not you have a background in scientific study, you'll gain the specific crime science skills you need to critically evaluate criminal investigations.

With access to the entire course online over two years, you can study at your own pace around work or other commitments. You'll have the support and guidance of a team of experts in the field of crime science, as well as the chance to join the research activities of our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice from wherever you're studying. 

You can also choose to customise your qualification by combining your study of crime science with another of our Criminal Justice Master's courses.

Once you complete the course, you'll be able to apply your crime science skills and expertise anywhere within the criminal justice system, such as criminal investigation or intelligence work in the public or private sectors.


This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Customise your Crime Science Master's degree by combining it with another of our Criminal Justice Master's courses, and graduate with a bespoke and highly specialised qualification
  • Get to grips with both the proactive and reactive crime science tools and techniques used to support investigations, and explore crime prevention and reduction measures 
  • Learn from an experienced team of crime science specialists in our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and hear from industry expert guest speakers from around the world
  • Be part of our community of researchers by getting involved with our criminology research groups, such as the Forensic Science and Policing research groups
  • Complete a major project based on your chosen area of research, with the support of qualified and enthusiastic experts in the field

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 – find out how distance learning works
  • 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

Tailor your degree to your interests and ambitions

As one of our Criminal Justice Master's courses, this course enables you to graduate with a degree title (see below) that reflects your interests and career goals by choosing specific modules

You'll choose which modules you want to study at the start of the course. We'll help you choose the modules and degree title that matches your interests and career ambitions.

Degree title options

Studying by distance learning (part-time)

  • MSc Crime Science
  • MSc Crime Science and Criminal Psychology
  • MSc Crime Science and Economic Crime
  • MSc Crime Science and Intelligence
  • MSc Crime Science and International Criminal Justice
  • MSc Crime Science and Victimology

What you'll study


Core modules

You'll take all core modules listed here.

If you choose to, you can take an additional core module from another Criminal Justice Master's course in your second year in order to graduate with two subjects in your degree title e.g. MSc Crime Science and Criminal Psychology.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the use of science and technology to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Critically assess the utility of a variety of investigative tools that are available to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Articulate and critically comment upon the range of specialist services available to investigators
  • Devise appropriate strategies to make the most efficient, effective and economic use of scientific resources in support of investigations and crime reduction activities

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Recognise the challenges involved in undertaking ethical research and identify the research challenges that need to be accommodated within a proposal for a research project
  • Construct a postgraduate research proposal with an ability to set out clear research objectives, and appropriate research design whilst able to select appropriate research methods
  • Apply an appropriate research design, and deploy specific research method(s) to the research problem (or question) with a clear appreciation of how any ethical issues are addressed
  • Effectively locate existing academic literature in their chosen field of research using bibliographic databases, with an appreciation of the breadth of other data sources, repositories and archives

Explore this module

Relevant specialist options

If you take just the core modules listed above, you can take one of these specialist option modules and one of the other other available modules (in Year 2).

If you take an additional core module from another Criminal Justice Master's course, you'll only take one of these specialist option modules.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss the potential contributions of psychological research and theory in the criminal justice arena
  • Critically assess the application of psychology to the criminal justice system, from investigation to the courtroom
  • Critically appraise the role of psychology in criminal justice policy and procedure

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically appraise the investigative knowledge required by those leading investigations into major crime and serious crime
  • Critically assess the UK investigative and prosecution process used for serious and major crime
  • Critically explore some miscarriages of justice which are related to unethical major crime investigation
  • Critically assess the range of specialist services that are available to investigators leading investigations into homicide or other major crime
  • Critically examine and compare investigative practices in selected countries

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Develop critical and reflective knowledge and understanding of the subject area
  • Think independently, analytically, and creatively in synthesising new and existing knowledge
  • Develop a critical awareness and understanding of good practice and relevant organisational and management theory to the effective running of justice/security organisations
  • Critically appreciate factors that contribute to justice and security organisations to improve quality, resource and financial management

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes for this module are:
  • To critically compare jurisdictional and regional narratives and debates relating to missing persons.
  • To be able to identify and critically discuss a range of issues relevant to missing persons over time, both conceptual and practical.
  • To identify and critically analyse sources from official and academic outlets discussing missing persons issues globally.
  • To critically consider the implications of measures taken by state and other actors to deal with missing persons issues.

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What you'll learn

Module information to be confirmed.

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Core modules

You'll take all core modules.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Be able to synthesise new and existing knowledge to generate ideas and develop creative solutions to the benefit of society, within a small-scale research project within their chosen field
  • Design, apply and critically evaluate research methodologies within the chosen subject area, demonstrating a commitment to ethical practice
  • Conduct a systematic, methodologically and ethically sound research process (literature based or empirical research)
  • Manage and reflect upon own learning and be able to communicate in a range of forms to audiences relevant to the academic and/or workplace community

Explore this module

Other modules available

If you take just the core modules listed in Year 1 plus one specialist option module, you can take one of these other available modules.

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Analyse and appraise the nature and scale of public and private sector fraud and corruption and to critically evaluate and compare the sources, methodology and limits to measurement
  • Systematically evaluate different public and private sector strategies to counter fraud and corruption and to identify and critically assess the theoretical basis
  • Critically examine and compare the success of arrangements to counter fraud and corruption in the public and private sectors
  • Critically evaluate action taken in the public and private sectors to counter fraud and corruption and to apply knowledge gained to a case study of countering fraud and/or corruption

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically and reflectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of differing systems of justice
  • Critically analyse, compare and contrast the workings of inquisitorial and adversarial systems of justice
  • Critically engage with contemporary global debates and the application of those to theoretical frameworks such as models of justice and philosophies of punishment
  • Critically evaluate the development of international criminal law, including international courts and tribunals, and the operation of the UN, regional and national structures of international justice in response to those crimes

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the use of science and technology to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Critically assess the utility of a variety of investigative tools that are available to support investigations and crime reduction activities
  • Articulate and critically comment upon the range of specialist services available to investigators
  • Devise appropriate strategies to make the most efficient, effective and economic use of scientific resources in support of investigations and crime reduction activities

Explore this module

What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate complexities and processes of economic crime schemes
  • Diagnose complex economic crime schemes to discriminate the contributions of the various offence types
  • Critically evaluate the social and economic impact of economic cybercrime
  • Critically assess the effectiveness of crime reduction policies

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Conceptualise the definition and nature of forms of multinational and transnational offending
  • Critically assess the forms of multinational and transnational offending
  • Critically analyse global trends, governance challenges, international responses and preventative strategies
  • Critically appraise contemporary perceptions of transnational offending and 'border-less' crime in relation to the established academic literature
  • Critically evaluate governance challenges, international responses and preventative strategies

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • To describe and examine different typologies, process, and methods of money laundering
  • To develop a critical awareness of underlying regulatory and compliance frameworks
  • To instil in students an appreciation of the business context in which money laundering occurs and is tackled
  • To develop an integrated understanding of comparative strategies, structures and actions to tackle money laundering that will allow to engage in their critical evaluation

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically assess and analyse security risk management research from a wide variety of academic disciplines and apply to models of security management
  • Critically evaluate and appraise the security strategy and security risks of an organisation
  • Synthesise current theoretical models for the delivery of security and apply them to a practical example
  • Synthesise complex arguments into a presentation for a hypothetical board

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What you'll learn
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key concepts of vulnerability, risk and resilience
  • Identify the factors associated with risk, to understand and be aware of the tools used to assess risk and the mechanisms and partnerships developed to manage risk
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding and awareness of the complex individual and social factors which influence vulnerability and risk
  • Demonstrate an up to date knowledge and understanding of victim-centred policies and legislation and the impact upon professional cultures and practices
  • Critically analyse contemporary developments in the provision of support servcies to assist victims to cope and recover, identifying best practices and collaborative partnerships

Explore this module

Changes to course content

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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Criminal Justice Master's courses

Discover the Master's courses offered by the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Dr Helen Earwaker: Here within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Portsmouth, we run a diverse range of Master's level provision with content aligned to a host of different areas that link to the pursuit of justice. Students can choose to study on campus or through distance learning. Our distance learning courses enable students to learn as part of a diverse online community, balancing their other commitments with their learning.

Dr Helen Earwaker: On campus, we bring learning to life through interactive workshops, immersive learning and through using simulated environments.

Gary [Podcast]: "Hello, everyone, and welcome back. Today we are looking at the case of Simon Flint, who is reported missing by his wife. A missing persons case has been opened and there is an active investigation into his disappearance. There is some intelligence to suggest that Mr. Flint has been involved in fraudulent activity. Four days later, a body believed to be that of Mr. Flint is discovered in an abandoned warehouse.

So now that we've discussed the case, we're going to look at the different theoretical and practical aspects that spanned the disciplines connected with this case. For example, we're going to consider the economic crime and fraud investigation, forensic science and crime science, the application of victimology and psychology, the potential connectivity with cybercrime, and then we're going to see how all of these fit together within the criminal justice system. This is important because these are all the areas that are considered within our MSc provision."

Dr Helen Earwaker: Our MSc provision connects to the research centres that we have within our school and our students benefit from the world-leading research that goes on within these. Research is at the very heart of our MSc teaching with evidence-based practice a core theme throughout our courses. Our students learn in a multidisciplinary and cross-border environment, benefiting from a wide range of perspectives across criminal justice and beyond.

Dr Helen Earwaker: We work closely with partner organisations across the justice sector, enabling our students to combine theory and practice throughout their studies. An MSc within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice will equip you to be evidence informed, forward thinking and to go on to challenge the status quo in the pursuit of justice.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

This Master's in Crime Science will enable you to combine your interests in science and criminology, and earn a postgraduate qualification customised to your career goals.

You'll graduate understanding how best to apply scientific and technological approaches to investigate and ultimately reduce crime. With a focus on research and backing up your learning with evidence and data, this course will also make you a deeper analytical and critical thinker – all in demand skills for a career in the criminal justice sector. 

If you already work in the field of criminal justice, you'll be ready to pursue higher-level roles, or to break into a different area of the discipline. If you're preparing to start your career in criminal justice, you'll gain the knowledge and advanced research problem-solving skills you need to stand out to employers and contribute positively to justice system reform.

Graduates of this course and our other Criminal Justice Master's courses have gone onto roles such as:

  • Financial crime insight intelligence officer
  • Intelligence operator
  • Investigating officer
  • Security and intelligence analyst
  • Probation service officer
  • Police officer
  • Witness care officer
  • Researcher

Graduates of this course and our other Criminal Justice Master's courses have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Federal Criminal Police, Germany
  • Department of Corrections, USA
  • National Probation Service
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Civil Service
  • Office of National Statistics
  • Hampshire Constabulary
  • Kent Constabulary
  • Aurora New Dawn
  • Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)

Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation.

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and from our Careers and Employability Centre, which you can access for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to spend in online lectures and seminars and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take 2 years (part-time study).

You can expect:

  • 6 hours of live online lectures and/or seminars for each module you study, recorded for those who cannot attend. All core material is available online at all times so you can create your own study schedule around work or other commitments.
  • 18 hours of independent study each week.


Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree.

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • individual and group projects
  • online materials

This Master's in Crime Science 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.


You'll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • reports
  • quizzes
  • dissertation

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 practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Gary Dalton

I graduated from the University of Stirling in 2009 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and I'm currently working towards a PhD in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ) at the University of Portsmouth.

My research aims to provide a frontline examination of how witnesses and victims of crime actually first describe a suspect. I will be working closely with Hampshire Constabulary to examine what actually happens at the scene of an incident. In addition, I've held a number of research associate positions which have been funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Economic and Social Research Council. Most recently I've been working for Dr Anne Hillstrom, Dr Lorraine Hope and Dr James Sauer, looking at whether providing training can improve face matching performance.

Read my full profile

Dr Paul Smith

I am Director of the Forensic Innovation Centre and the Institute of Criminal Justice Study Lead on Innovation. I started my career as a medical photographer with the Leicester Royal Infirmary, moving into a role as a crime scene investigator (CSI) with Leicestershire Constabulary in April 1999.

During this time I investigated a range of major and volume crimes, and trained as a crime scene manager and coordinator, advancing to an assistant senior CSI in 2004. After studying for a Masters in forensic archaeology, I completed my doctoral studies in embedded technologies for scene investigations. I teach forensic studies and my research interests include developing knowledge sharing in the police, integrating technologies into investigative practice and researching various aspects of forensic studies and associated criminal justice matters.

Read my full profile

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video and phone from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

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 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.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

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.

The Maths Café offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your maths skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

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 (September 2023 start)

  • Part time: £4,250 per year

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Part time: £4,250 per year

Part time: £4,250 per year

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for postgraduate taught courses

Discover how you can fund your postgraduate studies at Portsmouth – including loans, scholarships and bursaries – and read our guidance on topics like how to budget, and how to get support if you're disabled or have dependents.

Explore funding

Additional 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 could include:

  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which relate to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements


This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2023

  • A second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, such as Social Science, Humanities, Law, Management, Psychology or Forensic Science.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Exceptionally, applicants with strong and relevant work experience will be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not 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.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us. 

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. Current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth and international students also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also 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.

Ready to apply?

Note you're applying for MSc Criminal Justice – you'll graduate with a MSc Crime Science degree title when you choose the relevant modules at the start of the course. 

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

Apply now (Part-time) – 2 years

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

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.