youth justice

Foundation Degree In Youth Justice

  • Already working in youth justice or an allied area and want to gain an accredited qualification to help you progress in your career?
  • Interested in developing your practice skills and understanding more about the theory and evidence that underpin effective practice in youth justice? 

Accredited by the University of Suffolk and widely recognised by employers across the youth justice sector, the Foundation Degree in Youth Justice (FDYJ) explores the current state of theory, practice and evidence relating to working effectively with children in the youth justice system. Built around the knowledge, behaviours and skills outlined in the Youth Justice Skills Matrix, this practice-based course will help you to develop as an informed and reflective youth justice professional.

What level is the course?

  • FHEQ L4 & 5
    (equivalent to study in the first and second 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
  • Reflective accounts
  • Briefing papers

Who accredits the course?

  • University of Suffolk

How long will it take to complete?

  • 108 weeks (just over two years part-time)

What are the entry requirements?

We are firmly committed to a policy of open learning and there are no specific 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 youth custody service, youth 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 FDYJ for 2024 is £4800
  • For holders of the YJEPC the cost is £3900
  • For holders of the PCEP the cost is £4200


Payment plans are available – 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?

  • October 2024  – REGISTER NOW

You will study four modules, the first two of which make up the Certificate of Higher Education in Youth Justice (Cert HE YJ). Two of the modules last 24 weeks and two last 30 weeks. The programme provides a detailed overview of how the youth justice system works and the principles on which it is based, covering key areas of criminal justice practice, including assessment, planning interventions and review, engaging and communicating with children and child and adolescent development.

Using our unique digital platform, you will learn through video case studies, extracts, reflective activities and multiple-choice quizzes.  You will also be provided with two textbooks, Exploring Youth Justice and Effective Practice in Youth Justice, which have been written specifically for this course and fully complement the digital resources.

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.

Explore the underlying principles that support and inform Youth Justice, focusing on the children who come into contact with the system – their development from childhood, their experiences of the world and how these might relate to their offending behaviour.  There are six blocks of learning:

  • Introduction to the youth justice system
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Relationship-based practice
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Educational engagement
  • Reflective practice

Investigate four of the eight areas of the Youth Justice Skills Matrix and the implications for your practice:

  • Child and young person development
  • Assessment
  • Safety and wellbeing
  • Risk of offending and risk of harm

Investigate the current state of theory, practice and evidence relating to working effectively with children in the youth justice system across several important domains:

  • Why young people offend
  • Working effectively
  • Assessment and planning interventions
  • Engagement and participation
  • Custody and resettlement
  • Desistance

Explore the other four areas of the Youth Justice Skills Matrix in more depth, developing your skills of practice reflection and evaluation in relation to:

  • Engagement and communication
  • Effective practice
  • Multi-agency working
  • Transitions

Your Career

The Foundation Degree in Youth Justice (FDYJ) is approved by the Youth Justice Board and widely recognised by Youth Offending Teams and secure establishments across England and Wales.

It provides a great opportunity for those working or volunteering in youth justice and allied sectors (e.g. case managers in YOTs, Custodial Care Officers, Reparation Supervisors or specialists in education, substance misuse or mental health) to develop their practice skills in ways that are evidence-based and grounded in current theory.

Further Study

Completing the Foundation Degree means that you will be two-thirds of the way towards achieving a BA (Hons) in Youth Justice. You can top up to the BA by completing an extra module in either Social Policy and Youth Justice or Managing and Coaching in Youth Justice.  Completing an additional Independent Research Project will give you the full BA Hons. See our main youth justice courses page for more information.

FREE Taster Course

If you’re interested in finding out more about Youth Justice, why not register for our free Exploring Youth Justice short course

Register now

Meet one of our Learning Coaches

What our students say

What our students say

“I hadn’t been in education for over ten years, since being at school, and I didn’t have much confidence. I’ve done the Foundation Degree now, while working full-time in a prison, and came out with a distinction, which I never thought would be possible. I’m now doing the Managing and Coaching module to get a Bachelor’s. I’ve actually achieved something, and the graduation was brilliant!”

Foundation Degree in Youth Justice graduate