Research course

Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice

University of Portsmouth · School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Entry requirements

A master's degree in a relevant subject, preferably of Merit level. It is essential that applicants are professionally engaged in one of the many areas of criminal justice. Applicants should be working at a senior level and/or have strong relevant criminal justice experience. All applicants are subject to face-to-face or telephone interview.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

Months of entry


Course content

Our Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice (DCrimJ) is a structured 4-year programme. The first two years are focused on workshop-based teaching in Portsmouth, while the latter two years are focused on supervised research, leading to a thesis.

Established in 2007, this course offers a framework for criminal justice professionals to reflect on and contribute to practice in their area of work. And unlike the more traditional PhD route – which aims to develop professional researchers – the Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice develop researching professionals.

Students are drawn from a variety of backgrounds in criminal justice – including policing, counter fraud, the private security industry, the voluntary sector, youth justice, prisons, probation, the legal profession, and forensic mental health.

The aim of the course is to develop criminal justice professionals whose work informs and is informed by original research in the field. Previous graduates have followed research projects into profession-related subjects such as:

Reform and the Garda in the Republic of Ireland

The National Intelligence Model and reduced risk in the public sector

Gender within specialist police departments

Structure and teaching

You'll be studying with the same cohort of people over the whole four years – and the interaction this provides will give you the opportunity to work, learn and develop together.

It's accepted that most professionals will be unable to attend all of the workshops during the first two years, so we also use an online learning environment to make all learning materials available online. The course is split into two stages, as outlined below.

Stage 1

This stage comprises 180 M level credits which is the direct entry level to Stage 2.

Stage 2

This stage comprises Parts 1 and 2.

Part 1 (years 1 and 2)

This is the 'taught' component of the course and last for two years. During this part you will earn 120 D level credits in assignment work.


professional development and review

advanced research techniques in criminal justice

publication and dissemination in criminal justice

criminal justice project proposal

Part 2 (years 3 and 4)

Part 2 comprises the professional research and development, leading to a thesis of up to 50,000 words.

This will earn 240 D level credits and is mainly independent study and research combined with supervision meetings and opportunities to meet with your peers to review and gain critical comment on your progress.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and assessment

The Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice aims to develop your research ability to an advanced level and promote evidence-based practice development. The development of the quality and value of your practice and research will be enhanced through:

seminars and workshops on critical research and criminal justice issues specifically focused on the development needs of criminal justice professionals

support from peers and staff to ensure your work reaches the necessary (doctoral) standard

supervision from a team with a very wide range of development and research interests and many years of professional experience

access to University of Portsmouth library facilities including a large number of e-books, journals and databases accessed electronically

the use of an online learning environment enabling you to keep in easy touch with your peers and the course team

development of wider national and international perspectives through networking with the peer group

building ongoing productive links between criminal justice organisations

raising the profile, credibility and influence of your profession in both academic and practice contexts

How you'll be assessed

You'll be assessed on the strength of your thesis.

Fees and funding

For further fee information please visit:

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • DCrimJ
    part time
    48 - 84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Admissions Team
023 9284 5566