MSc Criminal Investigation

Why choose this course?

Taking a unique approach to studying investigative practices, this MSc equips you with knowledge and skills for the many fields which demand high levels of professional investigation expertise.

  • 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 specialist options in areas such as cybercrime, financial crime and organised crime to build on your knowledge of mainstream investigations 
  • Learn from an influential team of researchers and practitioners who draw upon more than a century of professional experience in investigation
  • Study full time or part time to suit your personal circumstances.

Since this video was filmed, the University has officially opened a new Crown/Magistrates courtroom. The £80,000 facility is an exact replica of a real courtroom to help students on law courses, as well as those studying forensic science and criminology, to experience real world settings.

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Fact file

Course code: MM2AB

Start date: September

Course length: Full time: one year. Part time: two years

Campus: One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus

College: College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences

About this course

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

It has been designed to appeal to graduates from traditional academic backgrounds as well as serving investigation professionals from across the world. 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 MSc 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 reflected 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 high level of practical experience 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

This course 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

The choice of optional modules - covering everything from financial crime to cybercrime, homicide to sexual offences – means you can follow a study programme which reflects your personal interests or professional role. For the masters stage of the course, you will undertake an independent study project exploring a significant topic of your choice.

World-class facilities

We boast some of the most up-to-date facilities in the country, which are described as ‘exceptional’ by Skills for Justice. They include full-sized courtrooms, interview suites, 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 offers a strong international perspective. As part of your studies, you will undertake comparisons of selected contemporary international approaches, informed by our extensive overseas partnerships.

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

What you will cover

This course is made up of three stages - Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc.

Postgraduate Certificate

You will study these three core modules:

Criminal Investigation 1: Principles of Investigation
Far-reaching scientific and technological developments have transformed criminal investigation practice and important steps are now being taken to professionalise the process. You will explore how practitioners carry out investigations with reference to intelligence and evidence gathering.

Criminal Investigation 2: Victims and Witnesses
Treatment of vulnerable victims and witnesses has changed greatly over the past 20 years. This module follows an investigation through to trial, with case studies outlining potential pitfalls and solutions. Topics include identifying and protecting vulnerable victims and witnesses, pre-interview contact, multi-agency working, interviewing and pre-trial preparation.

Applied Research in Criminal Justice Systems
You will develop the skills, knowledge and practical expertise to undertake advanced applied research at masters level. You will receive training in qualitative and quantitative research while considering the politics and ethics of research.

Postgraduate Diploma

You will study this core module:

Criminal Investigation 3: Suspects
You will explore the process and context of criminal investigation, the underlying theories and the factors that influence approaches to it. This module delivers a real insight into how to question suspects and obtain a reliable account.

You will also choose two option modules from the list below:

Option modules

Financial Investigation Models
This module critically analyses the possibilities and limitations of criminal and civil justice processes to detect, deter and resolve financial and related forms of crime within lawful and professional investigative practice models.

Financial Intelligence and Financial Crime Detection
You will critically assess effective and ethical approaches to the development, control and sharing of information, intelligence and evidence to support the detection of financial and related forms of crime.

Investigation and Prosecution of Cybercrime
You will address the legal, practical and theoretical challenges of investigating cybercrime committed by national and transnational organised crime groups.

Evidence and Digital Investigation
This module explores the challenges of investigating cybercrime, cloud crime and internet crime as well as the handling of digital evidence from forms such as social media and open source intelligence.

Investigating Serious Crime
Helping you develop a clear understanding of homicide and organised crime, this module critically analyses the impact of police investigative practices.

Investigating Sexual Offences
Examining the sociological history of sexual offences and the impact of the internet, you will consider how British society can protect citizens and the methods used by diverse agencies to investigate, monitor and manage sexual offences.

Policing and Criminal Investigation Across the World

You will gain a deeper and wider understanding of policing and criminal investigation by considering the economic, cultural, social, political and historical factors that have shaped practices throughout the world.



You will study this module:

Independent Study
During this triple module, you will use the knowledge and intellectual skills that you have gained to carry out an extensive inquiry and academically rigorous study of a significant topic of your choice relevant to the field of investigation. Under the supervision of one of our team of specialist researchers and drawing upon our considerable professional investigative experience, you will generate a masters-level dissertation that you can use to showcase your skills and interests in your current or future investigative role and organisation.

Entry requirements

At least a 2:2 from your first degree, or the equivalent. If your first degree is not in the Social Sciences or related subjects such as criminology, criminal justice, policing, sociology, psychology and economics, please contact the Programme Leader.

If your first language is not English, you will need to evidence a proficiency in English (IELTS 6.5).

We also welcome applicants who may not have an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) but who have substantial and relevant professional experience.

If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, contact the Programme Leader who will be happy to supply further advice.

How to apply

UK/EU students

International students

Information for international applicants

Applying for a postgraduate degree

Fees and finance

2015/2016 fees

UK/EU students

  • £550 per module (you usually take the equivalent of nine single modules)

International students

  • Full time: £11,440

These fees apply if you're starting this course between September 2015 and August 2016. We recommend you check fee details with us though, as they can change. Costs can increase each year.

How you will learn

Teaching and learning

You will study via a mixture of lectures, seminars, group work and learning in simulated settings. Some elements of the course may be delivered via e-learning through group discussion boards and webinars, 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.


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

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. Core modules take place on Wednesday afternoon/evening and optional modules take place on Friday morning/afternoon. This occurs across the 12 weeks of the autumn semester and the 12 weeks of the spring semester.

Who you will meet

You will be taught by a team of engaging and inspiring subject experts. Reflecting the practice-oriented nature of the course within masters-level accredited academic study, the team includes experienced practitioners as well as academics that have researched and published widely on criminal investigation issues and related fields.

Dr David Hicks is MSc Programme Leader and Head of Research - Postgraduate Criminology. He specialises in financial investigation, financial intelligence and financial crimes such as fraud, cybercrime, white-collar or corporate crimes, money laundering, terrorist finance, and national security threats. This is combined with parallel research interests in serious and organised crimes, and responses to such phenomena including the use of crime prevention. David has professional experience with government and non-government agencies in the fields of crime prevention, and criminal and financial intelligence. He teaches research methods, independent studies, financial investigation, and financial intelligence.

Kevin Bampton is Head of the Department of Law and Criminology and Assistant Dean of the College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences. He has been legal adviser for the British Council, the United Nations and the Overseas Development Administration of the Foreign Office. His published research includes work on computer-assisted marking, the ethics of billing and theoretical ethics. He currently chairs Derbyshire's Race Hate Scrutiny Panel and is expert Adviser to the Police Federation of England and Wales. Kevin teaches the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime.

David Benford is an Associate Lecturer for the Department of Law and Criminology, specialising in cybercrime and digital forensics. As well as his work as an independent digital forensic investigator, David specialises in online privacy and safety, especially in relation to social media and child protection, working with law enforcement and corporations in open source intelligence and in how to protect themselves against cyber-criminals. David teaches evidence and digital investigation in relation to cybercrime.

Tony Blockley has over 30 years’ policing experience with wide-ranging strategic and operational expertise. As a Senior Investigating Officer he has led numerous homicide and serious crime investigations and has extensive experience managing all types of investigations, serious and organised crime, forensics, financial crime, intelligence and all areas of public protection. He has worked in Northern Ireland as a Lead Senior Investigating Officer reviewing the deaths of the 3,500 killed during ‘The Troubles’ and has been commissioned as an expert witness advising on investigations by the Northern Ireland Legal Aid Board. His specialism is in the investigation and review of homicide and domestic violence and abuse. He also conducts statutory domestic homicide reviews throughout the UK. Tony teaches criminal investigation as well as the investigation of serious crime.

Professor Ray Bull is part-time Professor of Criminal Investigation at the University and provides guest lectures on his specialist applied research. In 2014 he became President of the European Association of Psychology and Law, a role he will hold for three years. In 2012 he was made the first Honorary Life Member of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group. In 2010 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society for the contribution he has made to the discipline of psychology – an honour restricted to 40 living psychologists. Other accolades have included an award for lifetime contribution from the European Association of Psychology and Law and a commendation from the London Metropolitan Police for “innovation and professionalism whilst assisting a complex rape investigation”. Professor Bull regularly acts as an expert witness and conducts workshops and training on investigative interviewing.

Angie Neville has twenty years’ experience of undertaking criminal investigation, many of them as a police detective. She also has experience of training detectives in the core investigative doctrine, possessing a postgraduate certificate in advanced training of adult learners. Her postgraduate research concerns the investigation of rape with particular focus on the treatment of victims, questions of consent, and the manner in which evidence is obtained, analysed and evaluated by criminal investigators. Angie is currently engaged in research concerning the investigation of domestic violence, with a focus on the utilisation of restorative justice approaches within this area. She teaches criminal investigation as well as the investigation of sexual offences.

Dr Dave Walsh is the University Reader in Criminal Investigation. For over 20 years Dave worked in various government agencies as an investigator, investigations trainer and manager before changing to an academic career. His research interests include the interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspects, and he has published many papers in peer-reviewed international academic journals. He is currently an editorial board member for the Journal of Forensic Psychology and is editor of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group's journal Investigative Interviewing: Research and Practice. Dave has recently co-authored the book Preventing Corruption: Investigation, Enforcement and Governance published by Palgrave Macmillan. He is currently editing two volumes due to be published by Routledge in 2015: Investigative Interviewing: International Perspectives (Volume I: Victims and Witnesses, and Volume II: Suspects). Dave teaches psychological aspects of criminology, the criminal justice process, and criminal investigation.

You may also meet other members of the criminology academic staff and associate lecturers who have specialist research and practice expertise to offer to participants on the criminal investigation programme. You may additionally meet leading external practitioners who participate in our visiting speaker programme.

Careers and employability

Career destinations for our graduates include law enforcement, finance, social services, health and safety, benefit offices, insurance companies, and many other public and private sector organisations.
If you are already a serving investigation professional, this course enhances your continuing professional development - building on your existing experience and skills – while providing your organisation with new insights into investigation procedures. You will also develop and apply research and analysis skills to the standards of UK higher education accreditation at masters level.

The course has been mapped to the national occupational standards for criminal investigation. This means that, on successful completion of your MSc, you may claim Accredited Prior Learning (APL), which paves the way for you to pursue civilian roles related to criminal investigation. If you are a police officer, you may seek professional recognition for completing an MSc aligned with the Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP).

Ongoing careers support

Our Careers and Employment Service will provide you with help, guidance and support from day one of your course - and for up to three years after you have completed your studies.

What our students say

“I chose to study this course because it offered more of an applied approach, so we actually practise our interviews, investigate a mock murder and undertake role play situations. There are some great facilities too, including the law court.” Allison Toner, MSc Criminal Investigation student

Contact details

Course leader: Dr David Hicks PhD FHEA



College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences
T: +44 (0)1332 591896

Where will I study?

One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus