A police officer standing on a UK street

Mode of Study

Part-time distance learning


2 years part-time distance learning

Start date

September 2023


If you're ready to step up to senior leadership within the police force in England and Wales, this online Master’s Degree Apprenticeship in Police Leadership will prepare you for promotion while you continue your job in the police or criminal justice sector. 

We've been running pioneering training courses for police forces around the UK for many years, setting the standard for strategic police leadership. This course will give you the academic and professional progression you need to lead and support your officers, and shape your force’s role in society. As it's a degree apprenticeship, the Government or your employer pay your tuition fees – so it doesn’t cost you anything.

Supported by expert academics involved in research at the forefront of the field, you'll also gain experience of managing critical incidents through access to our Hydra Learning Suite, an immersive tool for making strategic decisions under pressure.

When you graduate, you'll have refined the skills, knowledge and behaviours of a confident and capable leader within the police force, and be eligible for accreditation with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).


This course only accepts UK and EU students.

Unfortunately, we can't accept international students on this course.

Course highlights

  • Earn a Master's degree in police leadership while you earn a salary
  • Build your leadership skills on a course that's based on the continuing development of the Police Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) – allowing you to develop the most up-to-date skills demanded in professional policing
  • Customise your studies to reflect your operational interests by choosing from a range of optional subjects, such as corruption and fraud, missing persons, money laundering, and victimology
  • Learn from academics, researchers and practitioners from our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, one of the largest criminology departments in the UK
  • Discuss topics and network with fellow police and criminal justice practitioners through online lectures and seminars
  • Qualify for accreditation with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) when you graduate, and be entitled to discounted CMI membership during your studies

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

I'm an employer interested in this degree apprenticeship for my staff

There's more information for you about degree apprenticeships in general on our information for employers page, or you can contact us directly. 

If you have an employee, or employees, in mind, that's great; if you are creating a new opening, we can help you shape and promote the role.


Degree apprenticeships: employer information

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)


This course is accredited with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) according to the Senior Leader apprenticeship standards.

What you'll study


You'll take all core modules. 


Additional content

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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Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the theory and application of police governance and accountability and the policing policy process.
  • Critically analyse the multi and inter agency contexts within which policing operates.
  • Critically analyse the principles and issues surrounding partnership policing, intra- and inter-operability.
  • Critically evaluate the application of principles and doctrine of police leadership to a range of complex policing, human rights and ethical dilemmas at different levels, personal, team, and organisational.

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Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate an understanding and ability to distinguish between methdologies in social science research.
  • Demonstrate critical understanding around the conduct of ethical social research.
  • Demonstrate in-depth and systematic understanding about locating and synthesising existing academic literature in the chosen field of research using electronic bibliographic databases.
  • Summarise and critically review conceptual features of an existing study including the effectiveness of a research question(s), aim(s), objectives and methodology.
  • Use existing studies to develop own area of research interest in the form of a dissertation project.

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You'll take all core modules. 


Additional content

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.

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You can take 1 optional module. 


Additional content

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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Additional content

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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Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically discuss and reflect on the potential contributions of psychological research and theory in the criminal justice arena.
  • Think independently, analytically and creatively on the application of psychology to the criminal justice system; from investigation to the courtroom.
  • Synthesize and engage new and existing knowledge of the role of psychology in criminal justice policy and procedure.

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Additional content

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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Additional content

The learning outcomes of 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.

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Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • To critically 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 critically evaluate structures and actions that aim to tackle money laundering.

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Additional content

Module information to be confirmed.

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Additional content

Module information to be confirmed.

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Additional content

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 services to assist victims to cope and recover, identifying best practices and collaborative partnerships.

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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.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

This Master's Degree Apprenticeship in Police Leadership will develop you as a senior leader in the police force, ready to lead teams, champion for change, and plan strategically.

You'll be set to act as an ambassador for your organisation, working closely with and influencing external partners and key stakeholders at a higher organisational level.

The course aligns to the Senior Leader apprenticeship standard and, when you graduate, you'll also be able to attain accreditation by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

This course will prepare you for police leadership roles such as:

  • Associate director
  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief financial officer 
  • Chief information officer 
  • Chief operating officer
  • Divisional head 
  • Executive director 
  • Warrant officer

9 reasons to do a Master's

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert careers advice from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Student Placements and Employability Centre. You can access support from our Careers and Employability Centre for up to 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 Apprenticeship will take 2 years (part-time study).

You can expect:

  • 1 day of off-the-job (otj) training each week. You'll spend the other 4 days in your role carrying out your ongoing duties.
  • 12-15 hours of independent study each week. All core material will be available online at all times so you can create your own study schedule around work or other commitments.

As this course is an apprenticeship, your employer is required to release you from your 'normal' working hours to ensure you can complete the required study attached to this course.

Your apprenticeship commitment statement will outline the amount of otj training hours required as a minimum for your apprenticeship – it will equate to 20 percent of the total time on your apprenticeship. You'll use this time for online study sessions, mentoring in the workplace, shadowing new work based skills or completion of required research to contribute towards your apprenticeship.

You'll keep a record of your otj training hours throughout your apprenticeship, and these will be reviewed to ensure your employer is allowing you the required hours to complete your study.


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:

  • seminars
  • lectures
  • webinars

The taught part of this Master's Degree Apprenticeship in Police Leadership 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:

  • dissertation or major project
  • project showcase, including a report, presentation and questioning
  • professional discussion based on a review of a portfolio of evidence

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:

Damien Jean-Jacques Cassan Portrait

Dr Damien Cassan

Senior Lecturer


School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Mr Julian Parker-McLeod

Director of Professional Education Programmes


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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 support 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)
  • 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

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.

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

The course fee is shared between the Government and your employer (£14,000 paid over 2 years), meaning no cost to you as the degree apprentice.

Your employer will also need to pay the End Point Assessment (EPA) fee, which is included in the total tuition fees.

Please see our Degree Apprenticeships page, or contact us, for further information about the EPA.

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 only accepts UK and EU students.

Unfortunately, we can't accept international students on this course.

September 2023

  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject (Social Science, Humanities, Psychology, Law or Management subject).
  • All applicants must have an acceptable Level 2 qualification in English and Mathematics. Acceptable qualifications include GCSE with grade C/4 or above and Functional Skills with Pass - please note that we are not able to accept all kinds of Level 2 qualifications, so if you are unsure whether you have a suitable qualification please get in touch. If you do not have an acceptable qualification you may be required to take an additional assessment during the application process.

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

Applicants with equivalent senior professional experience in a relevant organisation (criminal justice or related) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also 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 EU 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. 

  • All applicants must be in employment and supported by a criminal justice or related professional employer.
  • 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.

An online interview may be required as part of the selection process.

You and your employer

When you begin studying for your degree apprenticeship:

  • You need to be 18 or over
  • You should be able to satisfy government requirements on residency: 
    • you must be a citizen or have the right to live in the UK/EEA
    • you must have been a resident in the UK/EEA (not the Channel Islands or Isle of Man) for a minimum of 3 years
    • you must not need a Student Route visa, and must not have been on a Student Route visa within the past 3 years
  • You need to have the right to work in the UK, and to spend at least 50% of your working hours in England
  • Your job should meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard relevant to this degree – we can advise you and your employer on this
  • Your employer needs to have registered an apprentice service account – we can help your employer with this if needed

If you aren't currently working in a relevant field, you can apply for a job and degree apprenticeship simultaneously. Read more about applying for this degree apprenticeship.

How to apply


I'm applying with my current employer

If you're already in full-time work, and your employer is interested in you studying this course, get them to contact us and we'll work out how to work together. 

If your employer isn't interested yet, you might find it useful to share our information for employers page with them.

Employer contact form  Information for employers


I'm looking for a job with a Degree Apprenticeship role

If you're not in full-time employment, or your current employer is not interested in degree apprenticeships, you'll need to find a role that does offer a degree apprenticeship. You can search the gov.uk list of open degree apprenticeship vacancies, or contact us with your details and we'll let you know when degree apprenticeship vacancies come up.

When you apply for a role that includes one of our degree apprenticeships, you'll follow the company's standard recruitment process for the job, while we assess your academic suitability for the course.

Search degree apprenticeship roles (gov.uk)  Contact us


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.