Taught course

International Criminal Justice (Distance Learning)

University of Portsmouth · Institute of Criminal Justice Studies

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or training within the police or other criminal justice organisation. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in Reading and Writing components.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

This distance learning degree will develop your understanding of the internationalisation of criminal justice and the importance of comparative perspectives, for an informed broad-based understanding of international criminal justice in the contemporary context.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study a curriculum that is responsive to the diverse international backgrounds of students
  • Examine national and international criminal justice with reference to international norms and standards of human rights and police ethics
  • Study the development of international and transnational offending from criminological, legal and political perspectives

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course supports entry to or promotion within careers that have an international policing context. This could include working for international criminal justice and law enforcement bodies such as Europol, Interpol and the International Office of Migration, or working as an investigators or administrator at international criminal tribunals. Alternatively, careers in private sector investigation or national/international non-governmental agencies would be open to you.

Module Details

On this course you will study:

  • International Justice: This unit covers concept of justice and the differing systems of criminal justice. You will also review the development and source of international norms and standards in criminal justice; the role, function and policy-making processes of international criminal justice bodies; the human rights system within United Nation and European Union criminal police and judicial cooperation.
  • Research Methods and Research Management: Research methods in crime, criminal justice and related settings include complex statistical modelling and analysis, surveys to establish self-reported offending and victimisation, in-depth interviews, ethnographies, as well as various forms of content, narrative and documentary analysis. This unit prepares you for your dissertation and will give you an overview of many of the possibilities, as well as directions on where to look for more information and ideas about particular techniques, approaches or issues. It covers structured literature reviews, the web and the methodology behind systematic reviews and meta-analysis (techniques that have become increasingly important to government departments).
  • Dissertation: You will conduct a small-scale 15,000-word research project, giving you the chance to demonstrate your achievement on the course as a whole. You will need to demonstrate your grasp of research design, methods and ethics, as well as your personal organisation and planning in the conduct of your criminal justice research-based project. You will choose you own topic taking into account academic advice and guidance as well as the broad parameters of the expertise of the Institute’s academic staff. It may be literature based or involve the conduct of ethical empirical research.
  • You will also choose two optional units from:
  • International and Transnational Offending: This unit examines the ideas and concept of international and transnational offending, and the methodological issues raised in the study of such forms of offending. A broad range of ‘traditional’ transnational crimes will be researched along with crimes against international law such as genocide and contemporary slavery. One of the key objectives of this unit is to overcome general perceptions of these forms of offending and critically examine the relevant scale, trends and extent of involvement of individuals, groups and states as well as recent global trends.
  • Contemporary Security in International Relations: Providers and Challenges (from 2017-18): This unit examines the key issues, concepts and understandings of contemporary security polics in International Relations. It will introduce the students to the concepts of securitisation and security, identify the key security providers in Contemporary International Relations and their respective remit. It will also examine the major challenges to stability and security in contemporary international politics.
  • Managing Justice and Security Organisations: Students will consider the challenge, knowledge, dilemmas and business skills of organizational and resource management in the rapidly changing justice and security environment. A critical appreciation of relevant management schools of thought (theory and practice) will be developed. Students will then develop a critical appreciation of the application, in a justice/security organization environment, of relevant theories and techniques. The decision making, planning and problem solving process will be considered in the context of effective change management in the police and security environment.
  • International Fraud and Corruption: Fraud and corruption is an international problem. It can be found in any country and in the public and private sector, as well as in any industry from banking and finance to health, foreign aid, sport and politics. All of these, and other sectors, are the focus of this unit. They will also be considered in reference to the scale and measurement, causes and consequences, the role of state and non-state actors, and money laundering.
  • Cybercrime, Risk and Security Management (Campus Block Teaching): Drawing upon a range of practical examples, you will examine how rapid technological development and expansion in access to the internet has impacted upon crime and corporate cyber threats. You will explore crime in spaces over which control has already been established, such as cyber-intrusion and cyber-theft, and 'new cyber crimes' in the form of virtual trespass, denial of service attacks, and offending in the context of social networking websites. The final section of the unit will examine how education and organisational responses can prevent victimisation and mitigate IT risk.

Please note that all options are subject to minimum student numbers and may not all be available. The course structure may vary from year to year, but course content and learning opportunities will not be diminished by this.

Professional Accreditation

Through their studies students can also gain professional accreditation that could assist them in the development of their further career prospects. These opportunities are for 0 credit professional Units, in addition to their normal study programme. Opportunities include those from the:

  • College of Policing, with the Certificate of Knowledge in Policing (exempting them from parts of police training), subject to any additional requirements set down by the College of Policing.
  • Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board, as an Accredited Counter Fraud Technician (ACFTech), subject to additional requirements set down by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board
  • Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board, as an Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist (ACFS), subject to additional requirements set down by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board.

Programme Assessment

This course is delivered entirely over the web. You will have access to our virtual learning environment where the learning materials are hosted. These include specially authored online multimedia learning materials, online 'thematic debates' and a broad range of electronic texts that cater for a diverse range of student interests, professional backgrounds and geographic locations. Throughout the course you will also have access to your course leader via a virtual classroom as a group and for one-to-one tutorials via Skype.

Annual student intakes at the start of the normal academic year (mid-September) are coupled with a programme designed to ensure you study alongside your colleagues throughout the duration of your studies (over two or three years). This allows us to develop and cultivate a distinct learning community that you will become familiar with.

The course commences with a two-week online induction in early September in the run up to an optional two-day face-to-face induction event, where you will have the opportunity to meet your course leader and other new students. This event ensures all the practical arrangements, expectations of the course and higher education study are tackled at an early stage. Immediately following induction, an ‘engagement officer’ proactively ensures any issues are resolved rapidly and thereafter personal support is provided by your course leader for the duration of your studies.

Academic support will be delivered by the relevant academic unit coordinators and the course leader via the telephone, email and virtual classroom sessions (timetabled and ad hoc on request). All students have access to the formal and informal support areas of the online course discussions areas (Graduate Common Room), student peer support and library support services in specific discussion rooms.

Other key learning opportunities for you include the annual two-day student School and the Research Study Day (at start of the second academic year) when you embark on the crucial personal research project.

Assessment will be in the form of academic essays, some assessment of online discussion contributions, research reports, a literature review and dissertation proposal focussed on your chosen project, and finally a 15,000-word dissertation. For each assignment full academic support is provided by an academic subject expert and you will be provided withan academic supervisor once you have identified the subject area for your research project.

The programme is responsive to students' diverse international backgrounds, with all units providing opportunities to undertake case studies and consider examples from their own country, or region.

Student Destinations

Students have enrolled on the award to further develop their professional expertise in the international criminal justice or international policing context, or to help support a career change or specialisation in this direction. Our students have included UK police, civil servants or private sector investigators either within or moving towards international and transnational criminal justice responsibilities.

Over the years, we have also attracted a wide variety of nationalities working for international criminal justice and law enforcement bodies. These have included those performing a variety of roles within Europol, Interpol, the International Office of Migration, or those working as investigators or administrators at international criminal tribunals.

Fees and funding

UK students
£2,100 p/a* (fees for the first two years of study only). *Fees are subject to annual increase.
International students
£2,100 p/a* (fees for the first two years of study only). *Fees are subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
24 / 36 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team - Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
023 9284 8299 3933