A close up of the police crest on a police hat

Mode of Study

Part-time by distance learning


4.5 years part-time distance learning

Start date

September 2023


Develop your interest in criminology and the justice system to an advanced level or gain the qualification you need to start or advance your career in areas such as policing, probation or security on this BSc (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice course.

Studying by distance learning, you'll examine the causes and consequences of crime and how this intersects with related disciplines such as law, sociology and psychology. You'll also develop the knowledge to assist you with a successful career in a criminal justice profession or for organisations that seek to reform and change the justice system and responses to crime.

Don't worry if you're new to University learning or returning to study after a break – you'll get a grounding in the key academic and research skills you need for studying at degree level.

Course highlights

  • Debate and question contemporary crime, control and punishment and criminal justice system issues such as investigation methods and forms of policing
  • Explore responses to crime from multiple perspectives as you study its relationship with other disciplines including law, sociology, psychology and the history of police science
  • Shape your learning to match your interests or career ambitions with modules covering specialist topics like organised crime, forensic psychology, cybercrime and terrorism
  • Be taught by leading academics from the University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice who are experts in fields such as victimisation, police training and surveillance
  • Gain a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE ) after 18 months and a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) after 36 months, even if you don't complete the full course
  • Have the chance to achieve your degree quickly if you have relevant prior learning or work experience
  • Study modules that allow you to qualify for Probation Officer training after the course

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

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • There are no specific qualification requirements, we will assess your application on its own merits.
  • Applicants without relevant Level 3 qualifications will 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.

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, Criminology student

Careers and opportunities

Crime will unfortunately always be part of society. So there will always be a demand for graduates with the specialist skills you learn on this course.

What areas can you work in with a criminology and criminal justice degree?

With your degree, you can start or advance your career in areas such as:

  • probation service
  • the police
  • crime prevention
  • community safety
  • security
  • campaign and reform groups related to justice
  • youth justice
  • crime analysis and research
  • victim support
  • post-conviction support
  • the courts and legal system

The transferable critical thinking, analytical and communications skills you learn will also be in demand in other industries.

Female student at computer

Ongoing career support – up to 5 years after you graduate

Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.

Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.

Futureproof your career

Becoming a probation officer

By studying these modules, you can reduce the amount of study you need to do to qualify as a probation officer after the course:

  • Criminal Justice and the Legal System (core module in year 1)
  • Questioning Criminology and Justice (core module in year 2)
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders (optional module in year 3)

What you'll study

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.


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

  • Understanding Criminology (Level 4; 40 credits)
  • Questioning Criminology and Justice (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  

  • Contemporary Criminologies (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)

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.


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.

Meet our staff members.

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.

Supporting your learning

As a distance learner, you can get 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.

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 (2023 start)

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man/EU/International students – £4,110 per year and £2,060 in year 5 (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 to start this part time course in 2023 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.

Not quite ready to apply?

Come to an Open Day to explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

How to apply from outside the UK

See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can 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.

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.