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Course content

  • Advance your investigative career in law enforcement, finance, health and safety, social services and many other sectors
  • Develop the skills you need to conduct serious and complex investigations from beginning to end
  • Study for a qualification which reflects the Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) occupational standards
  • Choose two specialist options in areas such as financial and digital investigation and intelligence and sexual offences, or choose a specialist pathway in investigating domestic abuse or investigating child sexual exploitation offences
  • Learn from an influential team of researchers and practitioners who draw upon more than a century of professional experience in investigation

Innovative and stimulating, this course combines academic rigour and practical experience to nurture high-calibre, confident and forward-thinking investigation professionals.

A broad appeal

The MSc Criminal Investigation is designed to appeal to graduates from traditional academic backgrounds as well as serving investigation professionals.

We welcome applicants with substantial and relevant professional experience who may not have an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. 

Meeting professional standards

Ensuring greater professionalism in investigation procedures is crucial to meet public expectations for effective and efficient policing and justice. This programme helps investigators to extend their skills while enabling the organisations that rely on investigations to enhance their performance.

The course has been introduced at a time when professionalisation in policing is a commonly agreed target of all police forces, the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency. In developing this programme, we have aligned it to initiatives such as the Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP), which is jointly sponsored by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing.

Gain practical experience

You will build the skills you need to conduct serious and complex investigations from the start to the end of a case. This includes gathering initial information from wide-ranging sources, managing intelligence and preparing high quality evidence for prosecution. There is also a strong focus on interviewing witnesses, victims and suspects using appropriate techniques.

The focus on professional practice you gain will be underpinned by the ethical and critical contexts of masters-level academic study, meeting UK accreditation standards for higher education.

Invaluable perspectives

The MSc Criminal Investigation will help you advance your investigative career in law enforcement, finance, health and safety, social services and many other sectors.

It addresses key challenges facing the investigation professional, including the changing nature of law enforcement and the ‘civilianisation’ of investigation. You will gain a greater appreciation of the social, moral and diversity issues underpinning both practice and research. 

Expertise to inspire you

We draw upon a teaching team with more than a century of professional experience in investigation. You will be taught by influential academics who engage in a diversity of national and international research projects. This ensures your learning is enriched by the latest thinking and ideas.

Thanks to our strong professional links, we also offer an outstanding visiting speaker programme where leading practitioners share their experiences.

Tailor your studies

You will have a choice of two optional modules which cover areas such as financial and digital intelligence, and investigating sexual offences means that you can follow a study which reflects your personal interests or professional role. Alternatively, you may wish to substitute the optional modules to follow a specific pathway in investigating domestic abuse or investigating child sexual exploitation offences. For the masters stage of the course, you will undertake an independent study project exploring a significant topic of your choice.

Our facilities

Our facilities include an on-site classroom, interview suite, a crime scene house and forensic crime labs. Such is their quality that they are regularly used for training police officers, detectives and forensic experts.

A global outlook

Our MSc Criminal Investigation is based upon the investigative context and principles of the UK. Most of these principles will be generally applicable to many countries, and as part of your studies, you may undertake comparisons of selected contemporary international approaches, informed by overseas partnerships.

You may find yourself sharing insights and experiences with students and practitioners from various parts of the world.

How you will learn

You will study via a mixture of lectures, seminars and group work. Some elements of the course may be delivered via e-learning through group discussion boards and electronic resources, this enabling some degree of flexibility for you to study when it is convenient for you.

There is also a focus on being reflective, encouraging you to think about how the course is helping you to improve your professional and career development.

Flexible study options

Alongside the one-year full-time route to the MSc, we also offer a two-year part-time route so that you can study at a time and pace to suit you. Many of the modules are taught in a block weekend format; one module will typically be the equivalent of one Friday, Saturday and Sunday session and pathways will typically be the equivalent of two block weekends.

This information relates to the 2017/18 intake.

How you will be assessed

The emphasis is on continuous assessment across the course. You will compile portfolios of work to demonstrate the knowledge that you have acquired. Formative and summative assessment will include written assignments, presentations and group work.

Candidates who are completing the MSc stage will develop and submit for assessment an empirical dissertation research project on a relevant and topical challenge of choice.


Visit the Criminal Investigation (MSc) page on the University of Derby website for more details!

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