Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years

UK/EU fee

£730 per 20 credits* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,700 for the full programme (2020/21)

Course level




Start date



One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus

Course description

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.

100%overall satisfaction - MSc Criminal Investigation **Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2018

What you will study

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

Candidates will study the the following 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

Developing the skills, knowledge and practical expertise to undertake advanced applied research at masters level. It will provide tuition in qualitative and quantitative research while considering the politics and ethics of research.

Candidates will study the core module (Criminal Investigation 3) with two optional modules or one pathway:

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.

Fundamentals of Financial and Digital Investigation (optional)

A platform that will assist you to systemically and critically assess any form of criminality or victimisation, identifying opportunities for integrated approaches utilising financial and digital information, intelligence and evidence.

Financial Intelligence (optional)

Offering critical insight on how to develop financial intelligence as a standardised tool. It will focus on the context of the effective and ethical development, control and sharing of information, intelligence and evidence to support investigations.

Note: Prior to taking this module, candidates should complete Fundamentals of Financial and Digital Investigation.

Digital Intelligence (optional)

Providing insight towards how to develop digital intelligence as a standardised tool. It will offer reflection on contemporary crime and victimisation, deconstruct the problem of 'cybercrime' into pre-existing catagories of harm, and apply criminology and victimology insights to policy and practice.

Note: Prior to taking this module, candidates should complete Fundamentals of Financial and Digital Investigation.

Investigating Sexual Offences (optional)

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.


Investigation Domestic Abuse (Pathway)

Providing evaluation of the effectiveness of historic and contemporary criminal investigation techniques to prevent and detect domestic abuse. It will focus on the development of advanced knowledge of the challenges presented within such investigations, and critical analysis and evaluation of the agency, political and investigative responses.

Investigating Child Sexual Exploitation Offences (Pathway)

Offering critical awareness of sexual violence, exploitation or abuse relating to child sexual exploitation (CSE) as well as critical analysis of the impact of sexual violence on child victims and the responses of voluntary and state services. It will also include focus on evaluation of the effectiveness of historic and contemporary criminal investigation techniques, and advanced knowledge of the threats presented by sexual offenders in the real and virtual world.

Independent Study

During this triple module, candidates will use their accumulated knowledge and intellectual skills to carry out a systematic inquiry and academically rigorous study of a significant topic of their 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, candidates will generate a masters level dissertation that can be used to showcase their skills and interests towards their current or future investigative role and organisation.

Please note: modules are subject to availability, and may change to suit the needs of industry. 

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.

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Postgraduate Live Online Events

While we’re not able to welcome you in person to our campuses at the moment, we’re not going to let that stop us showing you all the great things about studying at Derby.

We’re currently planning our autumn Open Events to bring you the best possible online and on-campus experience.

Book your Live Online EventBook your Live Online Event

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.

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.

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 is made up of experienced practitioners as well as academics who have researched and published widely on criminal investigation issues and related fields.

Dr David Hicks is Programme Leader for the MSc Criminal Investigation. He has over two decades of academic, research and professional experience. This includes national and international recognition as a specialist in financial crime and financial investigation, criminal/financial intelligence, organised crime, and crime prevention. He also has experience lecturing in criminology at Cardiff University (Wales) and the University of Ottawa (Canada).  David was the co-principal investigator for the Better Policing Collaborative (BPC) cybercrime project sponsored by the Police Knowledge Fund (PKF), which was jointly funded by HEFCE and the Home Office via the College of Policing.

David Benford MSc is the Managing Director of Blackstage Forensics Limited as well as a Visiting Professional Fellow for the Department of Criminology and Social Sciences at the University of Derby.  He is renowned as a leading expert on hostile profiling through social media and emerging technologies, working internationally with military, diplomats, corporations and law enforcement agencies and is especially well known for his work with the European diplomatic institutions in Brussels.

Tony Blockley MBA, (PhD Candidate) 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.

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.

Craig Hughes MA (PhD Candidate) is an Associate Lecturer for the Department of Criminology and Social Sciences at the University of Derby.  He has been involved in law enforcement for over thirty years. The last twenty of which he has been a financial investigator and manager at regional and national levels for the Police and Home Office departments and the Serious Fraud Office. Craig was part of the Implementation Team for the setup of the Assets Recovery Agency in 2002.  He is currently researching a PhD on the nature of financial investigation within the UK.

Angie Neville MSc, (PhD Candidate) 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 Michael Teague is a qualified Probation Officer and Social Worker. His research interests centre on probation, imprisonment, and the politics of criminal and community justice. He has published work on the probation and prison systems in America ‘the privatisation of justice services’, ‘probation culture in England’ and ‘the impact of neoliberal governments on penality’ to name a few.

Nir Tolkovsky MSc, CFE, (PhD Candidate) is an Associate Lecturer for the Department of Criminology and Social Sciences at the University of Derby.  His background includes counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation project management within the Israeli Intelligence community, as well as research and development in the private sector and academia in the UK.   Among his recent engagements are projects utilising a variety of analytical disciplines in criminal justice systems.  Nir’s doctoral research addresses the interplay between ‘criminal’ and a range of ‘commercial’ and ‘civil’ fraud resolution mechanisms in English law and practice.

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.

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.

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees (August 2020 - July 2021)


£730 per 20 credits*

£730 per 20 credits*


£14,700 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

Additional costs and optional extras

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International student scholarship

We're offering a £2,000 scholarship for all eligible international students studying a full-time postgraduate taught programme (PGT). Terms and conditions apply.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply


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.

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

The information below is correct for entry in the academic year September 2020 - August 2021 only. Entry for future academic years may be subject to change.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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