Contemporary Policing MA

Postgraduate (2 years part-time)

Blended learning, Cambridge, Chelmsford


Intermediate award: PG Cert Fellowship

This course is a blended learning degree. Most of your work will be carried out online, but you'll also attend face-to-face workshops on one of our campuses. We can organise workshops in Cambridge or Chelmsford.


Advance your career in the police service. Explore the key challenges facing police in today’s rapidly changing world, and develop enhanced critical and research skills to help tackle them.

Read more about MA Contemporary Policing


If you are a serving police officer or member of related staff, our MA Contemporary Policing will help you to advance your career and equip you for senior management roles in policing or other related criminal justice organisations. With modules designed in consultation with police researchers and practitioners you will develop an in-depth and systematic understanding of core topics affecting the modern police service.

Modules & assessment

  • This module will help you develop the research skills and techniques needed to critically evaluate the literature on policing you will use during the course and to complete your dissertation. If you are taking the Research Fellow route, it will also equip you to conduct a research project on your own professional practice in the Work Based Project module. You will explore the methodologies and methods applied in contemporary social science research with a particular focus on the policing context, allowing you to select an appropriate range for your own needs. The module will give you an opportunity to experiment with a variety of methods, so you can fully understand them and adapt them creatively in your chosen projects. You will explore thoroughly the issues involved in planning a research project and formulating research questions and, with the aid of library expertise, discover the most recent tools for reviewing and researching existing literature, with particular attention to ethical principles and the politics of social research. You will be encouraged to critically assess research methods and expand the range of techniques with which you are familiar, for example by exploring different types of ethnography and participant observation, including visual methodologies, narrative analysis and critical discourse analysis. Computer-assisted analysis methods will be introduced and developed, and you will receive an introduction to quantitative data analysis with a focus on data exploration and significance testing. You will also be given the opportunity to develop the methodology for your major project or Fellowship research project and discuss the progress of your research on a week-by-week basis.
  • On this module, you will address the rapidly changing digital policing context and the scale of challenge posed by new technological developments and associated changes in culture, society, and the economy. Your focus will be on future challenges posed for policing by the emergence of new types of internet enabled crimes. These includes online fraud, stalking and harassment, abuse and hate crime, grooming and the viewing of child abuse imagery and extend to cybercrime and cyberterrorism. Digital technologies also offer the police rapidly changing means to deter and investigate crime. These include digital forensics, identity and genetic databases, digital mapping, facial recognition, and Big Data analytics. Both the changing forms of criminality and the new tools for policing raise difficult strategic, operational and ethical questions. You will consider digital capability and delivery models with reference to the current work being done to equip the police service for the digital age, also focussing on difficult ethical questions thrown up by new surveillance capabilities and data-driven policing.
  • This module will give you a comprehensive and critical overview of those policing activities generally referred to as ‘Public Protection’, drawing together insights from academic and policy perspectives. You will explore applied and theoretical critical issues in public protection and other aspects of risk, the viewpoints of victims, offender behaviour, and the challenges facing professionals who work on the front line in public protection. By reviewing current understanding of best practice in multi-agency working, risk assessment and threat assessment, you will gain a 360° perspective on public protection integrating research, practice expertise and theoretical paradigms.
  • This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters dissertation, allowing you to explore in-depth a particular topic that reflects your academic interest.
  • This module will give you an understanding of the antecedents and complexities of contemporary police culture, management, and organisational change. You will explore the theory of police culture, leadership and management, and strategy as it pertains to organisational practices, and how organisational practices such as change management, leadership development, and ethical behaviour are applied practically in contemporary policing. You will also critically consider how various perspectives of police culture, management, and organisational change can be applied within police organisations and how these principles can be applied within your own career. This understanding will be academically grounded through a critical engagement with the debates and contemporary issues in police management through the lens of police culture. The module will have a multi-disciplinary focus, with inputs from both business/operational and sociological perspectives. Your assessment will consist of two parts: a group presentation, in which you will present a case study based on personal experience and explain the outcomes and lessons learned as well as writing a follow-up reflection, and a written assessment addressing key concepts you have learned during the module.
  • This module is designed to support serving police officers and staff in carrying out a small-scale research project into an area of professional practice or police problem-solving area. Supported by an academic supervisor, you will identify a research topic and refine this through a literature review and selecting an appropriate methodology and design for your study. Ethical implications will be considered and you will follow Anglia Ruskin University’s ethics approval process before embarking on your research project. This is an opportunity for you to practice the knowledge, skills and tools that you developed in Researching Police and Policing, and create and utilise research for improvement in your chosen area of policing. You will submit a report on your project and keep a research diary outlining the development of your project and reflecting on your learning throughout the process, presenting extracts from this as an appendix to your report. You will also give a verbal presentation on the findings of your project to your peers, allowing you to disseminate your findings to a wider audience and receive feedback on ideas for implementation, further research and improvement. You will complete a written reflective commentary to accompany your presentation, evaluating your project and its possible future implementation in your professional practice as well as reflecting on the feedback and your ideas for possible future research plans.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

You will be assessed through a variety of methods aligned to the specific learning outcomes of each module.  Rather than simply testing your learning, the assessment on this course is designed to be integral to your learning process. It will consist entirely of coursework and will, on some modules, require you to complete a sustained piece of research and writing or, on others, a portfolio of smaller, complementary tasks.

The longer tasks will include literature reviews, comparative case studies, research proposals and a dissertation, in which you will be given the opportunity to engage in sustained primary research or scholarly enquiry. The portfolio tasks will include: data generation and analysis; presentations (in which you will present, critique and/or defend course materials to peers and staff); short review papers demonstrating your research, writing and critical analysis skills; practical data gathering exercises; and short abstracts of core course readings.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we believe in thinking critically about the past, present and future to challenge perceptions and better understand communities and people.

With expertise from gender issues to literary analysis to exploring how the past has shaped our modern world, all our staff members are active researchers. This is reflected in our teaching, allowing us to support our students with the latest theories and practices, as well as essential employability advice.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Blended learning
Person using laptop

Study at a time that suits you, using our learning management system.

More about blended learning

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

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Additional study information

In studying for any academic award it is important that you feel part of a community. This can be more challenging when studying part-time, with significant professional and other commitments. This programme is designed to help you to develop a sense of belonging to your cohort group through face-to-face meetings at weekend workshops and through discussion groups using our Virtual Learning Environment (Canvas).

This course is part of a suite of policing degrees managed by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and closely linked with the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER). As one of our students you will be part of the PIER research community and the wider AHSS postgraduate student body. Throughout the year, PIER hosts a series of events and opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange with local and regional police forces, and representatives from national policing bodies.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.

International students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. These include an Alumni Scholarship, worth 20% off fees for ARU graduates.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Candidates for admission would normally have a first degree of at least a good upper second in any discipline. However, this course has been designed for serving professionals in the police and related professions/work sectors, who will be considered for their suitability on the basis of APEL (recognition of prior learning), using the principles outlined by the College of Policing.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Teaching at ARU

We offer face-to-face campus teaching (with the exception of Distance Learning courses), supported by our established online learning systems, which provide additional support for individual study and engagement. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information.

In the event that there are restrictions that are put into place due to the pandemic by the government - we will endeavour to retain face to face teaching as much as possible but will respond accordingly to the restrictions placed on the University.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the section 'Standard entry requirements' for IELTS requirements for this course.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

Get more information

UK applicants

01245 686868

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 683680

Enquire online