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Introducing… MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice & Policing

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In 2021, we developed a new postgraduate course within our Crime, Policing, and Investigation provision that focuses on leadership within the police and other criminal justice organisations. We’re proud to be offering this course as it’s highly unique and suitable for students in a wide range of careers. Here, you can find out more about this exciting MSc course and all the reasons you should consider studying it.

Flashing blue lights on a police car

Who is the MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing degree suitable for?

We have purposely designed the MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing course to be accessible to everyone who has a genuine interest in the field. Whether you have studied criminology or sociology before or not, our varied selection of modules will allow you to specialise in the areas you’re most interested in. For entry onto this postgraduate course, we ask for applicants to hold at least a Second Class Honours (usually a 2:1 or above) in their undergraduate degree, but we accept these from a range of subjects including social sciences, psychology, business, law, education, humanities, health, arts, technology, and the sciences.

We also understand that there may be those who are interested in studying the degree who are already actively practising in criminal justice organisations. To help facilitate a range of circumstances, we’ve designed the MSc so that the course hours are flexible. Online learning will be woven into your studying and the taught elements will be delivered via intensive study days which will be both on-campus and online. The course is available to study full-time over one year or part-time over two years.

What skills and knowledge will I gain from studying for the MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing?

As the world of criminal justice is constantly evolving, we’ve developed a curriculum that enables you to study some of the most topical criminological issues facing our society today. You’ll have the opportunity to choose from two optional modules during the course, which examine a range of interesting topics such as inequality and vulnerability in the criminal justice system, international criminality, and criminological theory.

The core modules on the degree will challenge your thinking about the criminal justice system and policing. You’ll look at different theories of punishment including how and why we apply punishment to offenders. Alongside this, you’ll study leadership theory in the modern era and learn how to apply this to develop your own approaches. You'll graduate equipped with the skills needed to advance your career and lead within a criminal justice setting.

"The first thing to understand about management in a criminal justice and policing context is that it requires a strong working knowledge of various sectors that, taken together, comprise what we often refer to as the criminal justice system. Whether you’re a student progressing to postgraduate study or a professional working within criminal justice, this MSc has been designed to provide the opportunity for students to develop their knowledge of both criminological research and institutional practices in a diverse range of contexts. The uniqueness of this course is defined by the way in which it is intended to bridge the gap between academic research and practitioner. We have the capacity to offer this at Sunderland as we have a range of staff who have experience in both of these areas, within sectors such as probation, policing, and offender management."

Dr Thomas Rodgers
MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing lecturer

Teaching and learning on the MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing course

One of the unique features of the MSc is that you’ll be taught by an expert academic team who are at the forefront of their professions and are still actively involved in research within the field. Our staff specialise in research across a variety of areas including desistance from crime, the criminalisation of sex work, policing, and disability and vulnerability. You will receive one-to-one support from your allocated academic tutor who you'll meet with regularly, giving you the chance to learn from their diverse experience.

The course will be delivered via a blend of on-campus sessions and independent online learning, and you'll be able to access all learning materials online. Your progress will be assessed with essays, reports, case studies, and presentations, and all assessments have been designed to offer experience of real-life tasks that you may undertake in the workplace. As well as your normal study hours, you'll also have the opportunity to undertake additional voluntary work and training courses and attend our enrichment weeks.

How will having an MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing qualification help my career?

You’ll be able to enhance your employability further by taking advantage of the strong links we retain with several organisations, such as local police constabularies, the HM Prison Service, and the Youth Justice Service. These connections are vital in allowing you to secure volunteering opportunities and work placements alongside your studying. Through our unique Local Appropriate Adult Scheme – founded and run by our own academic team in collaboration with Northumbria Police – you may also have the opportunity to volunteer as an appropriate adult, offering support to a person during their time in police custody.

Given that the MSc course has a large emphasis on leadership, many graduates will typically use the skills gained from this degree as a stepping stone to a higher level of professional employment and having this distinctive qualification will considerably improve your job prospects within the criminal justice sector. Past graduates have gone into employment within the police force, charitable organisations, prison service, probation service, and many more.


To find out more about our fantastic MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing course, head to the course page, where you’ll find more detailed information about our modules and how to apply. Or, sign up to join us at an Open Day or explore our University virtually.

Published: 11 January 2023