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BSc(Hons) Applied Criminal Justice (Top-Up)

Entry year
Course code
School of Social Sciences
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time; part-time
Programme leader
Dominic McVeigh

Please note there are no vacancies on this course for September 2024

Page last updated 4 July 2024


Get the undergraduate qualification and academic recognition you need to progress your established career in the police or criminal justice sector. Get access to the latest facilities, supported by UWE Bristol's respected reputation as a policing and criminology education provider.

As policing has evolved in recent years with the introduction of degree-based qualifications for new recruits, a gap has been identified within the workforce. Our BSc(Hons) Applied Criminal Justice Top-Up degree aims to address this gap by giving existing officers access to university-level education.

Why study applied criminal justice?

Our Criminal Justice degree brings together the knowledge, experience and theoretical concepts that underpin criminal justice practices. As an experienced member of police staff, you'll gain an undergraduate qualification to support your wealth of on-the-job experience. Plus, you'll get academic recognition for your existing occupational skills, due to the professionalisation of policing roles.

Why UWE Bristol?

As an established and respected provider of policing education, you'll benefit from UWE Bristol's strong reputation in the criminal justice sector, with a unique perspective of the policing and criminal justice environment.

Get access to the latest facilities on Frenchay Campus, designed to meet the increased demands of our growing policing provision. Here you'll test your knowledge in a safe learning environment, so you're equipped to apply your academic skills to complex crime scenes.

Where can it take me?

This Criminal Justice course is suitable for existing police officers and professionals currently employed in the criminal justice sector, from probation services to prisons. We encourage a broad range of applicants, bringing a diverse pool of students with different perspectives to your learning.

When you graduate, you'll be equipped with the skillset to progress your career within the police force or wider criminal justice sector or progress to postgraduate education. By acknowledging your occupational experience, you'll be in a strong position to apply for more senior positions or further study.



Any optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.

You'll study:

  • Applied Criminal Justice and Community Policing
  • Evidence Based Research Project
  • Violence Against Women and the Victim's Voice.


Either, two optional modules from:

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Missing People: Lost Identities and Social Harm
  • Risk and Risk Management.

Or, two optional modules from:

  • Creating Change in the Criminal Justice System
  • Digital Policing
  • Ethical Policing: Conduct, Challenges, Consequences.

This structure is for full-time students only. Part-time students study the same modules but the delivery pattern will be different.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we'll inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Throughout your Criminal Justice degree, you'll learn through a blend of online and on-campus teaching, including lectures and seminars. Your learning will be supplemented by online tutorials outside of your lectures, and your lectures will be recorded and available online to offer you flexibility.

You'll be taught by policing experts with a wealth of experience working in the police and criminal justice sector. You'll study your modules alongside students from Criminology, Law and Criminology and the Professional Policing Degree, inviting diverse perspectives and opportunities for discussion.  

At key points in the course, you'll be taught in tandem with our operational policing colleagues, enabling you to learn the latest industry developments from professionals in practice. You'll also engage in simulated learning in our bespoke simulation suite, equipped with domestic and commercial spaces to apply your skills to different mock settings.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The course will require you to attend classroom-based teaching which is enhanced with online learning, simulation and immersive activities, as well as independent study. We'll plan the attendance pattern with a view to minimising the frequency of attendance and overall cost to students.

Both full-time and part-time students will benefit from the flexibility that this course offers. You'll have the chance to study this course on a part-time basis if you choose, to fit your academic studies around your current employment and other commitments.


From the start, you'll be assessed through a range of practice-oriented methods that reflect real-world practice. You'll benefit from a varied and supportive assessment strategy, with some choice around assessments in specific modules.

All assessments will be based on typical types of work you currently experience in your professional working environment. This allows you to apply your new academic knowledge and skills to your wealth of occupational experience.

Our assessment methods include: essays, reports and optional pre-recorded presentations. There will be group assessments, which require an active role and reflect real world practice.

Learn more about assessments at UWE Bristol.


Study facilities

Apply your academic skills and knowledge in our bespoke crime scene science and policing space on Frenchay Campus.

You'll study in four interactive learning rooms, complete with video and audio links, including purpose-built breakout rooms that are used for suspect interviewing and processing a crime scene.

Plus, you'll have access to a whole floor dedicated to simulations, which features a mock living and business space, including a mock flat and post office.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.

Take a virtual tour of the Psychology, Sociology and Criminology facilities and see what's on offer here for you.



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Careers / Further study

UWE Bristol offers different policing education routes for a range of different audiences. As our only top-up degree route, our Criminal Justice course will provide you with academic knowledge relevant to your current policing role.

Through studying a range of core subjects, from community policing to violence against women, you'll delve into a variety of complex topics within the criminal justice sector. Gain the academic skills and knowledge you'll apply to your professional practice, such as evidence-based research, critical reflection, interviewing and presenting.

You'll also have the chance to study a variety of optional modules, tailoring your studies to your interests and career aspirations. Choose from a broad range of optional modules, where you can learn about missing people, illegal drugs, risk management, and digital and ethical policing.

The course will allow you to diversify and will give you a taste of other areas of policing, offering the potential for promotions in your chosen field of criminal justice. You'll also have the chance to study with students from other degrees, such as criminology, to broaden your knowledge.

By the end of the course, you'll graduate with a recognised undergraduate Criminal Justice degree. By gaining academic recognition for your occupational experience, you'll be qualified to progress your career within the criminal justice sector and beyond.

This qualification could help you to achieve a promotion in your current police role, such as a sergeant or lead in a specialist area of policing. Plus, you could apply for more senior roles in a prison, probation or rehabilitation service, or a criminal justice agency, charity or social enterprise. You'll also be eligible to apply for postgraduate study, such as a master's degree.

Get inspired

Our award-winning careers service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and help you find graduate jobs, placements and global opportunities.

We can also help find local volunteering and community opportunities, provide support for entrepreneurial activity and get you access to employer events.

Visit our employability pages to learn more about careers, employers and what our students are doing six months after graduating.

Learn more about graduate destinations.


Supplementary fee information

Additional costs

This refers to items you could need during your studies that aren't covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, textbooks, travel, clothing, software or printing.

Learn more about costs.

Learn about funding.


Typical offers

Entry requirements

Admission to this course is via accredited experiential learning (AEL). AEL is learning achieved through experience that may not be formally certificated.

Applications are encouraged from existing police officers and criminal justice professionals who have completed their probationary period. Any organisational training, exams or achievements, including statements of evidence, can be used to demonstrate your experience and expertise.

AEL will be used to demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes of the first two years of learning of the BSc(Hons) Applied Criminal Justice. You can demonstrate that you have done this in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) certificates of learning, official training records, CPD records and witness testimony.

Selection process

Applicants will be invited to an online interview.

Learn more about entry requirements.

Read about Accredited Experiential Learning (AEL).

How to apply

We encourage you to apply for our course as early as possible in the cycle to ensure sufficient time to complete the AEL process. 

Read more about undergraduate applications.

Read about Accredited Experiential Learning (AEL).

For further information