MSc Criminal Justice - University of Portsmouth

Criminal Justice

Part Time2yrs

Full Time 1yr

Customise your own postgraduate degree in criminology, justice, security, fraud or related fields with us.

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This flexible framework provides you with a unique approach to studying: not only will you choose the units and subject areas you study, but you will also determine the award you exit with through your choice. Through more than 15 units, this framework allows you to shape your studies to your own interests, developing your knowledge and understanding through your choice of units and dissertation topic. 

The subject areas available to study are:

What will I experience?

Route A

Route A allows you to focus on one subject area from the list above, studying a core unit and specialist option relevant to that subject area. Route A also gives you the option to study a unit from outside that subject area, should you want to broaden you knowledge even further. For example, if you are interested in Criminal Psychology, but want to take one of the units specific to Criminal Justice, this framework will allow you to do so. 

Route B

Route B allows you to combine two of the subject areas in your studies, and this will be reflected in the degree title awarded. For example, if you have an interest in Crime Science but also in Cybercrime, you can study both subjects and exit with an MSc in Crime Science and Cybercrime. 


If you want to follow this course, you should apply as soon as possible to reserve your place. We may be able to process late applications, but this may disrupt your course induction and the start to studies

How do I apply?

Complete the University's online application form (not a UCAS form)


Jemma Tyson, Course Leader (Campus)

This is an exciting and flexible course because you are not confined to pre-determined units. You can develop your knowledge and skills through new combinations of learning to meet the demands and expectations of an ever-changing employment market.

Jemma Tyson, Course Leader (Campus)


An example course: MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Academic staff and former students from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies talk about their experience of studying for a Master's degree in one example of the exit awards available.

Browse all courses in Law and Criminology

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Structure & Teaching

You will study for this course by following one of the two available routes described above, depending on whether you want to study, and be recognised for, one or two subject areas.

Whichever route you choose, you will also study the Research Methods and Research Ethics unit. This unit will enable you to both develop and add to your research skills, through the use of specialist research workshops, and help prepare you for completing your dissertation/major project.

Teaching and Assessment

You can study this course as a campus-based or distance-learning student, tailoring your learning to suit your own needs. The DL course is facilitated through interactive and engaging multimedia online materials, whilst still being a part of the University of Portsmouth student. The campus-based course is delivered via lectures, seminars and workshops, and involves both individual and group working.

Efforts are made to involve both campus based and distance learning students in research. 

How are you assessed?

Assessment is based upon a range of written assignments including essays, case study, a literature review and research proposal focused on your chosen project. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation or major project. For each assignment full academic support is provided by an academic subject expert and you will be provided with academic supervisor once you have identified your dissertation subject area.

Video Description

An animation that explains how you study on an Institute of Criminal Justice Studies distance learning degree and the benefits of studying at a distance.

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Facilities & Features


The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies was founded in 1992 and has since grown to comprise 50 academic staff and more than 1,800 students. Now an internationally-renowned focal point for the study of crime and criminal justice processes, it draws together expertise in criminological analysis, applied psychology, police governance and management, victimology, penology, risk and security.

Professional Links

Our extensive experience and close professional relationships with the police service and criminal justice agencies ensure that our courses reflect the changing needs of the profession. You may benefit from these links by hearing guest speakers, listening to leading-edge research and being helped to find professional work placements.

Distance Learning

Our distinctive approach to supported distance learning, robust procedures for the accreditation of prior learning and modular award framework not only help facilitate access to higher education but also offer flexible and transferable platforms for life-long learning.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

For campus based students

There may be travel costs for internships/placements. These will vary depending on the nature of internship/placement and can range from £50 - £1000. 

For distance learning students

You may be required to pay for travel, accommodation and subsistence to attend ​any optional campus-based events. These may be in the region of £50 to £500 depending on travelling distance to Portsmouth.


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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Given the broad range of issues considered and the skills acquired throughout the degree programme, you will be well equipped to embark upon a diverse range of career choices. Over the years our graduates have found employment in areas including policing (both as officers and as civilian staff), crime analysis, probation, the courts and prison service, local authorities, academia and research, charities and private industry to name just a few.

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Postgraduate Open Evenings

Our Postgraduate Open Evenings are taking place between February and April. Lecturers and support staff will be available to discuss your options. You'll also find out more about your chosen course and subjects that interest you.

Booking will open soon but in the meantime, watch our Postgrad Live series to hear from our staff and students about what it's like studying at Portsmouth. 

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours.

Can't get to Portsmouth?

If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and see us at one of the events we attend around the UK.

If you would like to speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email and we will arrange this for you.

Staff from the University of Portsmouth Global office also regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484