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Case Study

Gary Bunn

Torbay, UK

MA Investigative Management


Already established as a policing professional, Gary Bunn was looking for ways to formalise his practice and so decided to pursue the MA Investigative Management at the University of Sunderland. He is due to graduate this year and will continue to use the skills gained from his masters degree in his day-to-day role as a policing manager.

As a professional within policing, I was seeking an avenue in which to formalise my professional practice and experience within an academic environment. I had considered several universities across the country which offered a masters degree in the relevant fields, however, the University of Sunderland stood out due to having a balanced mix of high-calibre academics and household names in the policing practice world. The University itself was also making waves nationally, being recognised by numerous awarding bodies for its outstanding higher education provision.

The MA Investigative Management course is a two-year masters degree, designed to be delivered as a distance learning course with several campus contact days each year. The onset of the global pandemic caused issues with being able to meet face to face, but the provision of virtual learning, inputs and discussions couldn’t be faulted. It allowed me to continue to work towards my postgraduate degree without being distracted from my day job running a public protection team in South Devon.

The course genuinely challenged me to consider my critical thinking style and approach, broadening my perspective in the context of my professional role. Even before I had completed the MA, I was able to apply the learning and personal growth gained from my studies into my role as a police manager. My thesis was focused on a specialised niche of investigative management that overlapped with wellbeing. I used my own force as a subject for data collection and as a result, my academic research has positioned me well to influence positive change well beyond my normal reach. It has given me a new platform of credibility from which to drive improvements in my area of business. I have also used my degree as a gateway to begin working towards formal accreditation as a chartered manager.

There are several things I learnt during my studies which I can now specifically apply to my day-to-day role within policing. I’ve gained a refined critical thinking skillset, a broader perspective of the role of an investigative manager and a lot of inward reflection on my leadership style and approach! I feel that these learnings have undoubtedly made me a better policing manager.

My advice to anybody thinking of coming to study at the University of Sunderland would be to take the time to really understand what it is you want to get out of your degree and find the course to get you there. Masters level study is heavily dependent on your own commitment and drive, so you’ll only get out of it what you put in. Be prepared to work hard, but also expect to genuinely enjoy and benefit from your time studying too.

To sum up my experience, although mine wasn’t typical of a distance learning MA student due to the impact of Covid-19, it has taught me that nothing of value comes easily, and with personal commitment, anybody can achieve a degree to be proud of here.”

Published 9 May 2022

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