There are so many avenues to explore, it is impossible not to find something which inspires you. Having experts in the field speak to you about their work makes everyone want to become a detective including me!

Ross, Policing (Criminal Investigation) graduate

How do you want to study?


3 years

UCAS code:



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Study the historical rise of the detective, from the early days of the police into the modern era.

Criminal investigation is a central part of police activity, and from looking at the news every day we can see how it influences the public perception of the police and their accountability and legitimacy.

The increase in crime, and the way crime is committed today, provides very different challenges to the detectives of the past. On this course you will adopt a critical approach to criminal investigations, exploring police effectiveness in historic sexual and homicide investigations, public protection, and covert operations.

You will also seek to understand the current context within which detectives work, including a national shortage of detectives, government austerity measures and the rise in technology and complex criminality.

Why study Criminal Investigation?

Studying Criminal Investigation gives you an exciting opportunity to critically analyse aspects of police investigations from different perspectives and understand the way in which crimes receive different levels of response depending on their perceived seriousness.

Using your enquiring mind, you will explore the many different approaches to both proactive and reactive criminal investigations. You will be challenged to consider questions such as what is the measurement of success in criminal investigations: is it locking up criminals; is it supporting victims or is it finding out the truth? 

This course is an excellent choice if you want to gain a solid grounding in police criminal investigations while also developing broad knowledge and skills that will set you up for a wide range of careers in criminal justice and beyond or further studies.

Entry requirements

A typical offer would be 88-112 UCAS Tariff points.

For more information on the IELTS (International English language Testing System) requirements for this course, please click here to visit our dedicated web page.

More information about entry requirements.

UCAS Points

All about the course

In Year 1, you'll study key aspects of the policing function, focusing on areas such as law and policing, crime scene investigation and the criminal justice system. 

In Years 2 and 3, you'll gain deeper knowledge of policing and you'll study specific aspects of criminal investigation, such as investigating crime, evidence, investigative interviewing, human decision-making, major crime investigation, and investigating sexual and domestic abuse.

You'll be able to focus your studies on particular areas of interest through optional modules in areas such as human rights, cyber crime, terrorism and political violence, transnational crime, expert evidence and mental health and violence.

You'll consider aspects of police function that relate to the National Intelligence Model, including how investigation of specific crimes link to the intelligence function, and the use of covert strategies within criminal investigations.

In your final year, you'll conduct independent research leading to your final 8,000 word dissertation. For this module you'll choose a specific aspect of criminal investigation to study in depth with the support of an academic supervisor.


Module information

Please note that the list of optional modules and their availability may be subject to change. We continually review and where appropriate, revise the range of modules on offer to reflect changes in the subject and ensure the best student experience. Modules will vary when studied in combination with another subject.

Core/optional modules

How you’ll learn

The academic year is divided into two semesters and typically you'll undertake three 20 credit modules in each semester, with the exception of Year 3 where you'll complete a 40 credit dissertation over two semesters.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical workshops. You will typically have around 14 contact hours per week. However, your actual contact hours depend on the option modules you select.

Seminars in smaller groups will enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures. In addition, you will meet with your personal academic tutor (PAT), who will be able to assist you with any queries or problems that you may have. They will also be able to signpost you to any of the University services should you need them. 

All courses are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2022.

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study. Typically, this involves reading journal articles and books, undertaking research in the library, working on projects, and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars.

Your module tutors will direct you towards specific readings and/or activities to complete before class.

For the dissertation in Year 3, you will undertake independent research on a criminal investigation topic of your choice. You will work under the supervision of a member of the course team who you will meet with regularly.

Your overall workload typically consists of 14 contact hours per week. In addition, you will undertake around 15 hours of independent learning and assessment activity per week.

For each 20 credit module, your study time is about 10 hours per week.

The teaching team consists of highly qualified academics. They have a range of expertise and experience in criminology, policing and other related fields.

All our team members hold doctoral and teaching qualifications. They are research-active and have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. You can find out more about the current teaching on our Meet the Team web page. You should note that members of the teaching team might change.

Postgraduate students sometimes assist in teaching and assessing some modules. However, experienced academics teach the vast majority of lectures and seminars. We also invite expert speakers from to provide you with insights from criminal justice professions. 

Our knowledgeable, inspiring team is committed to providing you with the best education to enable you to to secure a number of different occupations in the public or private sector.

Dr Martin O'NeillSenior Lecturer

How you’ll be assessed

The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Some modules contain a piece of practice or 'formative' assessment for which you can receive feedback from your module tutor. Practice assessments are developmental and any grades you receive for them do not count towards your module mark.

There is a formal or 'summative' assessment at the end of each module. Assessment methods include written examinations and a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, performance, presentations and your final year major project. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark.


You will receive feedback on all practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

We aim to provide you with feedback within 10 working days of hand-in (i.e. any practice assessment) and 20 working days of hand-in (formal coursework assessment).

75% coursework (including presentations, essays, portfolios, group work, practicals)
25% written exams

Your future career

The choice of careers following graduation is wide and varied. Previous graduates have decided to join the police through the traditional route, others have decided to apply for either direct entry detective (metropolitan Police), or fast track detective programme (I.e. Kent Police). Further opportunities exist as investigators for: National Crime Agency, the Military, Independent Office for Police Conduct, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Security Services, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and so on.

Other graduates have obtained jobs inside the criminal justice system, such as HM probation Service, HM Prison Service, the UK Border Force, etc.

Graduates may also look at the private sector for security related and investigative roles too.

In addition, there are a number charitable and voluntary organisations working with the criminal justice sector and vulnerable groups, such as Victim Support, Mind, Shelter, Nacro, Prince’s Trust, Porchlight, Barnardo’s, etc. offering suitable job opportunities. 

It is important to note that the knowledge and skills that you gain from doing a criminal investigation degree are transferable to other careers and therefore you could embark on a wide range of career pathways, and should not feel tied to the professions listed above.

Some students opt to undertake further research, and go on to study Masters by research on criminal investigation topics of their choice. Others opt to study at Masters level either with a different department (i.e. Law), or at another university that offers postgraduate courses of their choice.

The course is ideal for anyone aiming for a career within the police service as well as those looking to go into other roles within the law enforcement and security sector. The course material provides students with all the necessary knowledge as well as the necessary skills for the practical application of it within a working environment. The staff themselves have a vast knowledge from their own careers within policing, allowing them to provide invaluable guidance to the students.


Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

of our Policing (Criminal Investigation) students were in jobs or further study 15 months after finishing their course


The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  UK Overseas
Full-time £9,250 £13,000
Part-time £4,625 N/A

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

Please read the 2021/22 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2021/22 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Specialist facilities

Our School has invested significantly in a Hydra suite that will allow our students to simulate crime scenarios under ‘close-to-real’ conditions You will have the opportunity to use the Hydra facility during some modules (e.g. decision making) to allow you to directly experience highly realistic incidents, situations and scenarios as part of your integrated learning.. You will also be able to gain some applied knowledge of criminal justice processes through our ‘courtroom’ which is a lecture theatre which simulates a courtroom and which used to be a courtroom in the past.

Guest lecturers

Guest lecturers are professionals currently working in criminal justice areas or organisations or individuals who come to CCCU to deliver a lecture, seminar or workshop, or attend one of the careers events we arrange for you. This allows you to have direct contact with professionals working in the field, which allows you to network and opens up opportunities for work experience and employment and also allows you to gain insights into specific areas of the criminal justice system from people who currently practice or research in a relevant area. 

We also invite individuals who have a specific experience that allows you to gain an insight into a specific aspect of crime, such as victims of crime, where appropriate and possible.

Regulated by the Office for Students

The Office for Students (OfS) regulates Canterbury Christ Church University. The OfS is the independent regulator of higher education in England. It aims to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers. Further details about its work are available on the OfS website.

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3 years

UCAS code:




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