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Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 2-3 years

UK/EU fee

£8,820 (2019/20)

International fee

£8,820 (2019/20)

Course level




Start dates

September, May



Online course description

Policing in both the public and private sectors is undergoing a radical transformation both within the UK and internationally. Police forces are facing new challenges and greater complexities as a result of globalisation and digital advancements, amongst other factors. In the UK, for policing to future proof itself, the Policing Vision 2025 seeks transformational change and reform across the whole of policing.

This part-time online Police Leadership, Strategy and Organisation Masters programme is for police leaders to develop the critical skills, confidence and competence to lead revolutionary change and shape the future of the policing profession.

In line with 21st century policing priorities

Today there is growing pressure for public accountability, a greater importance of community partners and, in some quarters, there is a crisis of confidence in the integrity of police services.

This distinctive and contemporary Masters programme applies current management thinking, criminology and social sciences to the increasingly intricate world of modern-day policing.

You'll gain an in-depth perspective of critical issues surrounding police accountability, independence, policing effectiveness, performance and organisational transformation. It will take your leadership skills and your ability to think creatively, innovatively and strategically to a higher level whilst inspiring and equipping you to influence positive reform.

A world leader in police education

We are a global provider in police education with a substantial team of academics with policing experience in UK universities. The team includes former police leaders as well as academic researchers whose cutting-edge work is helping to shape the development of policing, nationally and internationally.

Delivered through our distinctive and best practice approach to online learning, this part-time online programme is particularly suited to leaders in the policing profession as all studies will be completed via the internet.

Benefit from the wisdom of some of the most influential figures in policing today

We have a notable network of highly influential figures and contacts from across the sector, from chief constables and crime commissioners to representatives from national policing organisations such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the College of Policing, the Chartered Management Institute, as well as representatives of the private sector. They have played a key role in the design of our course to ensure it meets the demands of the profession today.

These strong relationships allow us to offer an outstanding guest speaker programme held through live webinar sessions, enabling you to discuss issues and learn from leaders in the field. You will also have the opportunity to attend Society of Evidence-based Policing and the British Society of Criminology events held at our Derby Campus throughout the year.

Contemporary policing from a global perspective

To ensure you gain a global perspective of contemporary policing, this Masters programme considers policing in the UK and the rest of the world.  It takes a broad international viewpoint and considers current and topical issues as they arise. You will find yourself sharing insights, experiences and best practice with police leaders from around the world and from a range of policing contexts through our virtual learning environment.

What you will study

The programme comprises three progressive stages; Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert), Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) and Masters (MSc).

You will be required to achieve 60 credits to complete each award within the programme, totalling to 180 credits to achieve the full Masters. 

We would encourage you to complete the full MSc, but if you prefer, you can still gain an exit award at either the PG Cert or PG Dip stage.


Code: 7CJ500

Applied Research

This module will provide you with a grounding in empirical research methods for criminology. You’ll learn about various approaches to research, including research design, data collection and analysis, preparing you for your independent study as well as benefitting you to conduct research after your studies.

The module examines the various approaches to criminology research, drawing on examples from the crime and justice field to illustrate broader concepts and theories.   You’ll also explore issues relevant to criminal research, in particular, relating to access, ethical constraints and data protection.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate a variety of approaches to conducting empirical and academic research in the field of professional practice.
  • Operate in an ethical context relevant to the level of study and professional practice context.
  • Provide a critical analysis of received approaches to research in professional practice and into their own research activities and findings.  
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ518

Police Leadership and Organisational Transformation

This module explores the changes needed for reorientation of policing organisations to meets 21st century priorities within liberal democracies. On the module, you’ll address the role of the police as facilitators and enablers, with a broader look at strategic planning, policy development and organisational transparency including political accountability. The module explores the effectiveness of a variety of leadership styles that best support organisational transformation. Matters relating to resourcing and deployment are also considered, along with personnel, training and development as best practice human resource management strategies. Factors around ICT and management of data are covered too.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of the module, you’ll be able to:

  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of the need for contemporary management and leadership styles and competencies.
  • Critically evaluate how different leadership styles and strategies can effect organisational direction and transformation.
  • Critique and evaluate the need for change in order for policing to be able to meet 21st century demands and requirements.
  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of strategies to organisational change and how these can be developed to achieve organisational transformation.  
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ520

Partnerships and Policing

This module provides a comprehensive and systematic critique of both the potential opportunities, benefits, limitations and constraints offered to policing by working in partnership with a variety of different, and sometimes competing, stakeholders. Current policy with the UK encourages partnerships and collaboration between statutory organisations (including the police) and professionals; public and private sectors; with voluntary organisations and local communities. This module looks at how to engage in lawful, effective and professional partnership practice. The pluralisation of services and theories of convergence linked to crime and community safety being a shared responsibility will be examined and the relevance of partnerships to policing strategies including community policing and problem oriented policing will be explored.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the possibilities and limitations of police engagement in partnerships and collaborative activity with reference to lawful and professional practice.
  • Uncover the complex processes involved in partnership and inter-agency collaboration and thereby identify key components of successful partnership working.
  • Evaluate and critique the strategic fit of policing in partnership with various models of policing.
  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of the fundamentals of project and programme management; how these pertain to the policing, their organisations and their roles.  
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ521

Policing and Accountability

This module deals with the concepts, debates, literature and research relating to police ethics and accountability. It looks at the ways in which policing is, and can be, practised and held to account. On this module, you’ll examine the complex political, legal, financial, and operational challenges of working with local and national government and the community as stakeholders. The module explores the relationship with democratic and regulatory bodies as well as the strategies that secure the police independence, the rule of the law and due process in a society which aims to reflect human rights and liberal values such as representation, civil liberties, free expression and accountability.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the concepts, models and theoretical frameworks pertaining to the requirements of contemporary policing within a modern democracy
  2. Critically evaluate the effects of ethical leadership and decision making to the practice of policing
  3. Provide critical analysis of the models, structures and frameworks that can hold the police to account. 
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ522

What Works in Policing

Against a backdrop of the police professionalisation agenda, this module provides the opportunity for you to examine police and crime reduction led research and initiatives and to evaluate their findings. Increasingly public services, including the police and their partners, are being called to account for their utilisation of resources. In this context, the critical importance that research, monitoring and evaluation frameworks can have to operational decision making will be explored in depth, including how to commission research.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critique the benefits of using evidence based research in policing and police initiatives to inform policing policy, practice and accountability;
  • Critically analyse and evaluate research led policing and research led initiatives;
  • Critically assess the importance and relevance of police information and management systems in the capturing of data to aid evidence based research and decision making. 
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ545

Managing Policing Resources

This module deals with the concepts, debates, literature and research relating to police business skills relevant to contemporary policing and fiscal accountability. It looks at the ways in which policing is, and can be, delivered through a myriad of resourcing interpretations. The module examines the complex political, legal, financial and operational challenges of working within public sector fiscal restraint and explores the changing expectations of societal need as to best value and interpretations of effective strategy. The relationship of policing with democratic oversight and regulatory bodies pertaining to finances and resourcing within the public sector will also be explored.

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate, critique and apply a range of theories and concepts to police organisations’ strategic planning cycles
  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of a range of leadership and managerial techniques to improve performance, provide feedback and tackle under-performance.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of information flow in the police service and its relevance to the police decision making processes.
  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of strategies and principles of financial control and how these are applied in the police service.  
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7CJ998

Independent Study

The independent study is a significant piece of the Master’s programme. It is a major piece of independently researched work, which provides the opportunity to conduct an in depth investigation of a strategic police leadership or management issue and addresses organisational issues and provides a response to solving the problem.

Through the independent study, you’ll have the opportunity to use and build on the knowledge and intellectual skills gained during the course, by means of an extensive investigation of a significant management area. You’ll also have the opportunity to reflect on the research experience and use what you have learned to guide your future development via a reflective statement and development plan. 

Module Learning Outcomes:  

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Act autonomously in designing a research project that critically evaluates a problem or issue to a professional standard. The topic should be relevant to the title of the programme and should meet the University’s ethical guidelines;
  • Devise and conduct an appropriate research methodology to investigate the problem or issue, reviewing pertinent literature, analysing primary and / or secondary data to an appropriate depth and demonstrating strategic awareness within the discipline;
  • Reflect on the process of undertaking a significant piece of independent research using the ideas and concepts from the course and plan their future development.  
More information
60 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

Teaching and learning

We recognise the demanding nature of the law enforcement profession. With this in mind, we have designed this part-time online programme to enable you to fit your studies in and around your professional and personal commitments.

Delivered entirely online, the course combines highly stimulating live tutorials and guest lectures, engaging group discussions through your digital learning environment, forums and community spaces, text, video and audio learning materials, and guided independent learning activities. Our emphasis throughout is on developing your leadership, analytical and problem-solving skills. We offer a supportive environment where learning can be tailored to suit your own professional experience and aspirations.

Addressing real-world problems

To develop as an effective manager and leader within complicated and often unpredictable environments, you'll explore real world problems and live scenarios, as well as simulated police strategy and organisational challenges throughout your studies.

You will use your on the job experiences to learn, grow and test your own responses to challenges in a confidential setting as part of your studies. You can also undertake bespoke projects negotiated with your employer, which will positively impact your own organisation and be of great value.

Evidence-based and reflective learning

As evidence-based policy and practice is becoming increasingly important within the policing profession, we place great emphasis on evidence-based learning as well as self-reflection within the programme. You'll be equipped with the tools and techniques to undertake high level research and generate new insights, adding to the body of knowledge surrounding modern day policing. You will also learn how to obtain and use data in a responsible and ethical manner, a valuable skill transferable to the workplace.

Personal development planning

Personal development planning (PDP) is built into the programme allowing you to capture, build and reflect upon your personal development throughout your studies. We are committed to helping our students become effective independent learners, committed to life-long learning and development. Your PDP portfolio will support your ongoing and continuous professional development.


This course is assessed through 100% coursework. We adopt a flexible assessment strategy to reflect the diverse nature of our students and their varied learning styles. Formative and summative assessment methods demonstrate practical skills and competencies relevant to professional roles in policing.

Formative assessments may involve group or individual work and may take the form of quizzes, debates, evaluation of case studies, presentations, problem-based learning and enquiry-based learning.

Summative assessments demonstrate that you have met the programme's learning outcomes. They include essays, group presentations delivered virtually, live debates using digital platforms, and coursework such as management reports, business case evaluations, information modelling and strategy or market analysis presentations.

At Masters level, the Independent Study involves a dissertation research project in which you will articulate and debate theoretical perspectives in relation to your own research findings.

Who will teach you

Programme leader

Tony Blockley

Student wearing headphones at a laptop participating in an online webinar

Discovering Online Learning Webinar, February

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 15.00 - 16.00

During this hour long webinar, we'll take you through the basic principles of how online learning works and what you can expect as an online learner. The webinar includes a 20 minute presentation and an opportunity to take part in a Q&A.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

Entry requirements

You will normally need one of the following:

  1. an honours degree from a social science, business or management related discipline, at 2:2 level or above, or an equivalent international qualification
  2. appropriate experience (supported by employer references) gained through employed or voluntary work in the justice sector
  3. be professionally qualified to work in the justice sector at a graduate stage or above

For requirements 2 and 3 your learning and communication skills and motivation to succeed on the programme may be assessed by the Programme Leader during an interview via Skype.

English language qualifications

If English is not your first language you will need an English language qualification.  For this course you will need at least one of the following:

Fees and funding

2019/20 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2019 and August 2020.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £980 7 (six 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module) £8,820

2020/21 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2020 and August 2021.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £1,010 7 (six 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module) £9,090

About your fees

This figure would be the total cost of this course in the current academic year. However, please note that fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase if your course lasts longer than one year.

However, please also note that you can receive a 5% discount if you either:

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from three payment plan options:

Masters funding options

Depending on where you are from in the UK or EU, and on your pace of study, you may be eligible for a postgraduate student loan. Accessible through Student Finance, this is a non-income based loan to help with living costs and tuition fees whilst studying your masters programme.

How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply now

Documents to support your application

You'll need to provide:

*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:

A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website.

Application deadlines

All of our online courses have set start dates throughout the year. We require time to review your application and get back to you with a response before your course starts. Take a look at information regarding applying for an online course to see full details of deadlines and term dates.


The Policing Vision 2025 sets out the plan for professionalising policing over the next ten years, acknowledging its role in society. The professionalisation of policing recognises the significant social impact the service has on society to maintain law and order, whilst providing confidence for communities to thrive and develop. Set against a backdrop of challenging social issues, policing requires up-to-date and critical thinking skills to enable officers to understand and manage challenging social issues, in sometimes difficult and demanding circumstances.

This Masters programme provides an ideal opportunity to recognise prior learning and experience and for police leaders to build on their experience through academic study and professional development to achieve a level 7 postgraduate qualification. A Masters degree, such as this, will strengthen your career prospects and give you an advantage within the law enforcement profession, in the UK or internationally.

Managers from other sectors who are keen to pursue a career within the Police force could benefit from this course to open doors into policing and police leadership. In addition, it will help graduates of subjects such as criminology or business to build an impressive CV and prepare for managerial roles in policing, security or other related professions.

Upon completing the MSc, there are also opportunities to progress onto PhD level study.

Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

Contact usContact usFrequently asked questionsFrequently asked questions

† Additional information about your studies

The first intake for this course is May 2020. Subsequent intakes are in September 2020, January 2021 and May 2021 continuing on a 3 intakes per year basis.

Download programme specification

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