Case study

Criminology graduate lands dream job investigating financial crime at Santander

Ellen Collum is a crime fighter. A recent Criminology graduate, Ellen is now working as a compliance officer in the financial crime department of Santander. She’s part of a team that investigates money laundering, fraud and terrorist finances.

Finding your passion

Ellen had hoped her future career would lead her into the criminal justice sector in some form but was never sure what direction that would be. She says: “I’ve always had a general interest in crime and fighting crime. To me, Criminology was all things crime.”

It was our BSc (Hons) Criminology that helped Ellen to hone that interest into a passion and future career. She says: “In my final year, I had the independence to choose what I could focus on. Having this freedom and choice allowed me to base my work on what I enjoyed doing and what I was interested in. It truly reflected in my work and my grades because I was so passionate and engaged.”

Criminology is a broad subject area and covers a wide range of modules spanning from the criminal justice system, to cybercrime, to substance misuse. The core modules in Ellen's first and second year helped her discover what area of Criminology really ignited her passion to succeed, and helped her realise what she wanted her future to look like. She says: “Without my degree, I wouldn’t have even thought of this job as a compliance officer, or that Criminology is broader than the public sector.”

Not just text books and lectures

The deciding factor for Ellen in choosing to study Criminology at Derby was the course content. She explains: “I went with what I thought would interest me the most. The modules really stood out to me as really fascinating.”

But international perspectives are an integral part of the Criminology degree, and students can witness first-hand how other countries approach criminal justice. Ellen had the chance to visit Los Angeles in the United States of America in her second year, and the Hague in the Netherlands in her third year.

This exposure to the criminal justice system in different cultures helped Ellen gain an international perspective and form her own judgements on returning to the classroom. She says: “The chance to go abroad and see other courts, prisons and justice systems in operation was so eye-opening and insightful."

Ellen Collum

Throughout the degree, we regularly debated on issues such as reform, punishment and rehabilitation. Having the experiences to witness many of these issues first hand allowed me to stand on my own and form my own judgements. It’s what makes the course great.

Ellen Collum
Criminology BSc (Hons) graduate

Broaden your horizons

Here at Derby, we have strong partnerships with many criminal justice agencies, and there are opportunities to get involved with volunteering and placements throughout the course. Ellen explains: “During my degree, I was made aware of many opportunities to work alongside local organisations. These included a sex offender programme which focused on reforming offenders, and also volunteering within a domestic abuse charity.”

To strengthen and broaden her employability scope further, Ellen also took advantage of the extra qualification in youth justice that is offered on the Criminology course.

Discover our Criminology courses

Why do people commit crime? How effective is sentencing and punishment? Can we prevent offending behaviour? Our courses are designed to take you into a career where you can tackle the big questions facing society and make positive changes in the criminal justice system.

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A bright future

On finishing her undergraduate degree, Ellen realised she was not ready to give up learning. She decided to further her study by enrolling onto our Criminology masters degree in Criminal Investigation. She explains: “I was enjoying studying Criminology so much and only really touching the surface with where I wanted this degree to lead me. I decided to choose the Criminal Investigation masters as I knew I enjoyed the investigations element, and really hoped this extra year would help me pursue my passion and lead me into my future career.”

It certainly did that. Before even submitting her dissertation in December 2020, Ellen had her job offer to work at Santander Head Office in Milton Keynes in the financial crime department. Ellen explains: “I am only a month into my training and already feel so comfortable. The background knowledge and terminology within the role is second nature.

"My degrees helped in so many ways - from the presentation and public speaking I had to do at interview, to the research skills I’ve learned along the way, and most importantly, the ability to work as part of a team. Studying Criminology has allowed me to realise the direction I want my career to take and where my passion lies, and I’m excited to see what my progression in the financial sector will look like.”