criminal justice

BA/BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice

  • Want to gain a vocationally relevant degree but don’t have the time and money required to attend a traditional university campus?
  • Interested in developing your practice skills and understanding more about the theory and evidence that underpin effective practice and policy development in criminal justice? 

The BA (Ordinary) or BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice draws upon a broad range of disciplines such as Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Law, Social Policy and Philosophy to actively encourage the development of analytical, reasoning and reflective skills. You will engage with academic literature and debates related to the criminal justice system, criminal behaviours and some of the critical issues and debates in criminal justice while critically evaluating research and evidence, applying this directly to your working experience.

What level is the course?

  • FHEQ L4, 5 & 6
    (equivalent to study in the first, second and third years of an undergraduate degree)

How will you be assessed?

Computer Marked Assignments (CMAs)
A range of Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs), including:

  • Essays
  • Case studies
  • Briefing papers
  • Reflective accounts

An Independent Research Project report


Who accredits the course?

  • University of Suffolk

How long will it take to complete?

  • 168 weeks (just over three years part-time)

What are the entry requirements?

We are firmly committed to a policy of open learning and there are no specific academic entry requirements for this course, you just need to be motivated to succeed. However, to join this practice-based course you must be employed or volunteering within the prison service, criminal justice system or allied area for the equivalent of at least one day a week.

See Student Support for how we can help you during your course to realise your full potential.


What does it cost?

  • The total cost of the full BA (Hons) for 2022 is £7200. The total cost of the BA (Ordinary) is £6000

This is made up of:

Certificate of Higher Education in in Criminal Justice: £2400
+ Level 5 Criminal Behaviours module: £1200
+ Level 5 Professional Practice Skills in Criminal Justice: £1200
+ Level 6 Contemporary Issues & Debates module: £1200
OR Level 6 Social Policy and Youth Justice module: £1200
+ Level 6 Independent Research Module: £1200 (BA (Hons) only)

Payment plans are available to help you spread out the cost – please see Fees and Funding for more information. If you are being sponsored on this course, please have your sponsor details ready when you register.


When can you start?

  • Autumn 2022 – please contact us for dates
  • Spring 2023

You will study up to six modules, two of which last 24 weeks and four of which last 30 weeks each. The first four modules make up the Foundation Degree in Criminal Justice (FDCJ) and provide a detailed overview of how the criminal justice system works and the principles on which it is based, covering important areas of criminal justice practice including the needs of people who offend, assessment and planning, rehabilitation and multi-agency working.

For the fifth module you can choose to investigate highly relevant contemporary issues and debates in areas such as hate crime, terrorism and transnational crime or to extend your understanding of social policy and youth justice.  To complete the BA (Hons) you will undertake an independent research project in a topic of your choice, supported by an experienced academic.

Using our unique digital platform, you will learn through video case studies, extracts, reflective activities and interactive quizzes. You will be able to study anywhere and at any time; either online or on the app, which you can use even without an internet connection.  You will also have a dedicated Learning Coach who will support you on your learning journey and assess your work.

Click on the modules below to see more.

Investigate the operations of the criminal justice system, including issues affecting criminal justice policy that are of historical importance and contemporary relevance.   You will study six blocks:

  • History of crime and punishment
  • The criminal justice system – an overview
  • The English legal system
  • The measurement of crime
  • Cybercrime and policing of ‘the dark web’
  • Psychology of crime

Develop the skills necessary to be a professional, reflective practitioner and critically explore how you would act in a professional setting through 4 blocks of learning:

  • Multi-agency working
  • Working effectively
  • Relationship-based practice
  • Reflective practice

Examine a wide range of criminal behaviours by considering categories of crime that include serial killers and crimes of the rich and powerful in six blocks:

  • Criminologies of the right and left
  • Gender, crime and justice
  • Serial killers
  • Crimes of the rich and powerful
  • The social construction of guilt and innocence
  • Researching crime

Enhance further the skills already developed with emphasis on becoming a high performing professional, reflective practitioner by studying:

  • The needs of people who offend
  • Assessment & planning for care, safety & rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Transitions

Critically explore issues of contemporary concern in criminal justice.  Choose six blocks from:

  • Drugs and society
  • Victims of crime
  • Hate crime
  • Policing protest and disorder since 1945
  • Terrorism past and present
  • Transnational crime
  • Tackling recidivism & promoting desistance
  • Riots in England since 1980
  • Covert research in theory and practice

Explore the policy context for youth justice – what the drivers are and what impacts different approaches have on children and their families.  You will study:

  • Political ideology
  • Children in care
  • Childhood and social policy
  • Diverse groups and needs
  • Children & young people’s rights
  • International youth justice systems

With the support of a learning coach, conduct your own mini research project in an area of criminal justice that interests you and write up the results in a report to share with other interested audiences.

Your Career

A criminology-based degree is relevant to many jobs that you might aspire to in criminal justice, in particular senior practitioner and operational management roles in, for example, the police, probation or the prison service

The organisational, research and analytical skills that you will develop through your studies are also transferable to a wide range of other roles and vocational areas.

Further Study

This degree provides a strong foundation for you to progress to a Master’s Degree in criminal justice or in youth justice. Its interdisciplinary nature will also mean that you can also broaden your studies in other fields, such as psychology, sociology or youth studies.