“Throughout my studies, each of my lecturers always made time for their students”
– Emma Hildreth
As soon as I attended an open day, I knew that the Applied Criminology course at the University of Derby was right for me. At the time I was not sure which area of the criminal justice sector I wanted to work in but I knew such a varied degree covering such a large scale of the criminal justice system would give me the opportunity to find out my interests in more depth. In one typical day I could be learning about crime scene science, standing up in a mock court trial, learning about U.K legislation and having a guest speaker sharing his experiences of prison.
I chose to specialise in Offender Management which looked at the history of probation and prison and where we are today. This one module alone contributed to strengthening my knowledge and understanding of the National Offender Management Service. I was inspired by this to complete my dissertation on comparing reducing re-offending in England and Norway. I interviewed criminology academics from the University of Oslo, along with probation officers and police officers in England. Without the course and module contents, I would not have been able to interview these professionals as I would not have had the background knowledge to discuss recidivism.
A Supportive environment
Throughout my studies, each of my lecturers always made time for their students. Some would reply to my emails late night or allowed me to drop into the office as there was an open door policy. You never felt alone in your studies and the lecturers made sure of that. From the first year of studying, lecturers encouraged all students to volunteer to maximise employability after university. Without this encouragement I would not have volunteered for the probation and landed myself the job!
I graduated with First class honours this year and was sad to leave the University and Derby. I volunteered for the probation as a support worker in my spare time before the national intake for the National Probation Service came up. There were around 1000 final candidates for around 300 jobs. I believe that the fact I studied the Offender Management pathway set me apart from the other candidates instantly as it showed it was something I had specialised in and have theoretical understanding of. After meeting many students from all over the country, I noticed that none had a degree similar to mine. During my degree, there were lectures that prepared you for job applications and what employers will be looking for. Had I not attended these lectures, I may not have the job that I have today!
My dream career
I'm due to start my new job for the National Probation Service in October 2014 and it's my dream job. I will be trained to manage high risk offenders and core duties include protecting the public, risk assessment and rehabilitation of offenders. My degree was completely necessary for this job as you could not apply unless you had a degree in Criminology. The degree prepared me fully for what I will come across in my job, why people offend along with law and legislation.
The most challenging part of the course was adjusting to independent studying and managing your time to meet deadlines. However, the most rewarding was seeing all that hard work pay off and collecting your degree certificate on graduation day.
I would recommend studying at Derby because it gave me and hundreds of others the opportunity to get our dream jobs and study something we love. It's a relaxed, friendly university that puts students first and if you're willing to work with that support and accept it, you will succeed.
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An international perspective
We are committed to studying in the field. One group of students recently visited criminal justice agencies in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with highlights including visits to San Quentin State Prison and gang projects in LA, a day spent with San Francisco Police Department and the chance to meet students from California State University.