Course details

Study options

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

UK fee

£9,450 for the full course* (2024/25)

International fee

£14,900 for the full course (2024/25)

Course level




Start date



One Friar Gate Square, Derby Campus

Course description

This innovative and stimulating course is designed to appeal to graduates from traditional academic backgrounds as well as serving investigation professionals. It combines academic rigour and practical experience to nurture high-calibre, confident and forward-thinking investigation professionals.

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 experience

You will build the skills you need to conduct serious and complex investigations from the start to the end of a case, not only in law enforcement, but in areas such as finance, health and safety, social services and many other sectors. 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. 

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.

Our facilities

Based at our modern and iconic building in the heart of Derby’s vibrant city centre, One Friar Gate Square creates the perfect environment for innovative and engaging teaching. This dedicated site offers unique opportunities for sharing knowledge, expertise and experience in all aspects of the legal and justice fields..

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.

Multi-Faith Centre, Kedleston Road

Postgraduate Open Event

Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.

Book your Postgraduate Open EventBook your Postgraduate Open Event

What you will study

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

Students 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.

Students 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.

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.

Independent Study

During this triple module, students 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.

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 

David Benford 

Professor Ray Bull 

Dr Craig Hughes

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.

Who will teach you

David Hicks

Dr David Hicks
Programme leader

As Programme Leader for the MSc Financial Investigation and Digital Intelligence and the MSc Criminal Investigation, David Hicks supports candidates in masters level research skills achievement and their application to the challenges of professional practice. He supervises PhD, MSc and UG researchers, and teaches international criminology and research skills to undergraduates.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

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 with 5.5 in each skill area).

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

2024/25 (August 2024 - July 2025)


£9,450 for the full course*

£1,050 per 20 credits


£14,900 for the full course


Please note 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 after one year of study.

* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable

Additional costs and optional extras

About postgraduate awards

Please note at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the respective awards. If you have any questions please contact us.

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.

Funding your studies

Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.

Find out about funding your studiesFind out about funding your studies

Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Find out about the Alumni discountFind out about the Alumni discount

Students chatting to each other

International student scholarships

We have a range of scholarships and discounts available to international students which can be used together to offer a reduction in your tuition fees.

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

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you 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 provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

Included in your fees
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Optional costs not included in your fees

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