Professional Policing BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Chelmsford, Cambridge



Gain the essential knowledge and skills required to be a police constable* and join a rewarding profession with considerable benefits. Become a capable problem solver, communicator, negotiator and leader, and discover how you can make a significant contribution to policing in the 21st century, as well as the wider criminal justice sector. Work with our Policing Institute on cutting edge research projects and hear from practitioners and experts in the field.

Full description


Your BSc Professional Policing degree will have a currency of 5 years from your graduation date for entry as a Police Constable.

Studying our BSc Professional Policing will put you in an excellent position to apply to be a police constable, demonstrating your ability to contribute to the policing profession through being a capable problem solver, communicator, negotiator and leader as well as being socially and emotionally intelligent in the performance of a professional policing role. The skills and knowledge you gain on this course will prepare you for the role of a police constable, as well as for work within the wider criminal justice sector, including the prison service, local government or the security industry.

However, successful completion of the degree does not guarantee entry to any police force: you must meet the eligibility criteria of the force you intend to apply to and follow their specific recruitment processes. You will need to pass medical and fitness tests, background and security checks, as well as a series of assessments including National Recruitment processes and Force vetting. All students who complete the course and are subsequently employed by a force will be subject to a two-year probationary period post-join, as specified in Police Regulations.

While recruitment processes and eligibility criteria are broadly similar for entry as a police constable, each police force in England and Wales sets its own recruitment process and selection policy, and entry requirements can vary from force to force. You are advised to check your eligibility against the information on the website of the force that you are interested in applying to. More detailed eligibility criteria are available on the College of Policing website, and the websites of individual police forces.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Understanding the Police
    This module supports your development of an understanding of the origins of the modern Police Service, and the purpose and nature of Police work in the broadest sense, including the social and political environment within which modern policing emerged and currently operates. You will be able to understand how and why the Police Service developed, the cultural and political ethos behind the service, and will be introduced to the extent of police powers and how these are regulated as well as to the legal and ethical frameworks informing the sector. The module will help you to understand the demands placed on Police Forces and their officers, staff and volunteers, including potential developments in the future. The concept of ‘professionalisation’ of policing will be explored and what this means for the police service in terms of regulation and standards. You will critically consider how the internet and digital media will effect changes to the policing landscape by facilitating the commission of existing crime types. You will also consider emerging types of new criminal activity, and responses that may be required from law enforcers to combat these. This understanding will be academically grounded through a critical engagement with the debates and controversies surrounding policing. You will develop and maintain a reflective learning log to support this module and your continuing studies. Your reflective log will be used as the basis of tutorial work and formative assessment. You will be assessed via a portfolio of tasks that will spread the assessment load over the semester and will provide opportunities for formative feedback. Your tasks will include traditional assessment methods such as a short essay, in-class test and a presentation, as well as maintaining a blog as a reflective diary. You will be taught by weekly lecture and seminar.
  • Criminology and Crime
    This module will introduce you to the ways in which sociological and criminological theories can aid our understanding of crime and criminals and how these approaches can be used by the police in dealing with crime and the causes of crime. You will examine explanations for crime and deviance since the 19th century, exploring key questions at the core of criminology, such as whether offenders choose to commit crime, or whether they are driven into crime by structural forces outside their individual control. It examines whether social, biological or psychological factors can help explain crime, and whether offenders can be regarded as ‘rational’ in their approach to offending. It also explores sociological approaches to crime and considers whether some individuals, groups or offences are more likely to be called criminal than others. The module will analyse the major contentions of and disagreements between each of these approaches, and you will learn to use these theories to illuminate contemporary debates and social problems. During the course of the module, you will gain a sense of the historical development of criminology as a discipline, and the relevance of each of these theoretical approaches to practical considerations of social policy, effective and legitimate policing, and the operation of the criminal justice system. You will look at crime, victimisation and harm, how these concepts can be defined and measured, identified and tackled. The module will develop your employability skills through improving your ability and confidence in evaluating approaches to research in this field and problem solving as well as your communication and information skills. You will be taught by a 2 hour workshop and assessed by a 15 minute presentation, a 3,000 word essay and an in-class test.
  • Introduction to Evidence-Based Policing
    Evidence-based policing has become an attractive option for police agencies with its promise of using limited resources more efficiently and effectively by focusing on those strategies and tactics that reduce crime. This module will give an overview on the ‘rise’ of evidence-based policing. It will introduce you to the basic ideas behind evidence-based policing and will explore the relevant definitions and rationales for moving away from traditional, reactive forms of policing and towards research-based evidence. The module will see students learn to differentiate between different types of academic research and other evidence, and begin to be able to assess the relative value of that evidence. You will also learn to use the SARA model of problem-solving, and how to undertake each of the stages of scanning, analysis, response and assessment. These skills will form the basis of the first of your two summative assessments. You will also develop an understanding of the ways in which evidence can be used to inform decisions, and how best practice can be identified. The module will examine a number of case studies in which research evidence has been used to inform police practice, such as the identification of crime hot spots. This module will also introduce you to some of the basic constraints around evidence-based policing approaches and encourage students to identify potential pitfalls in implementing an evidence-based approach.
  • Introduction to Policing in Practice
    Building on the module Understanding the Police, this module will develop your understanding of the role of a response officer through considering police powers and legislation, such as PACE and the Policing and Crime Act. You will be introduced to the range of incidents and crimes that you are likely to encounter in this role and you will explore the powers and legislation associated with these. You will examine practical policing issues and skills, from attending incidents and managing crime scenes to arrest, interview and detention and preparing for prosecution and court. Public order policing, the practical and legal issues around stop and search, search and entry and an introduction to roads policing will be covered. Throughout the module, the focus will be on exercising powers and procedures fairly and without bias. You will learn to keep accurate and ethical records of police incidents and will critically review aspects of risk in operational policing. Weekly lectures will be supplemented by smaller group seminars, where you may be asked to prepare material in order to contribute to effective learning. There will also be a number of practical exercises and regular contributions from serving officers and criminal justice professionals as guest lecturers. This module will develop your employability through deepening your understanding of the role of a Police Constable and the challenges associated with this through key policing skills and knowledge. You will begin to develop skills as a reflective practitioner and to take responsibility for your own learning and development. Assessments for this module will be three pieces of coursework: a report of 3,000 words, a Personal Development Plan of 500 words and a reflective commentary on your experience of group work on the module.
  • Ethical Policing
    This module will introduce you to the ethical issues you will encounter within the field of policing. You will examine key principles including ethics, equality and diversity and human rights as well as accountability, fairness, integrity and respect and the relevant legislation and guidance available to police officers. You will consider the ways in which decisions are made, with a particular focus on the concept of discretion in the decision-making process and how to make effective, professional and ethical decisions. You will look at the corresponding standards of professional behaviour, and their development and application within the UK police force, with particular reference to ethical issues with specific importance for policing, such as procedural justice, police conduct, confidentiality, corruption, and the use of force. The National Decision Model (NDM) will be central to this and you will explore its use in practical policing situations. Theories and concepts of ethics will be explored, such as unconscious bias, discrimination and prejudice and the effects of police culture. The foundational ethical questions will be explored, including accountability; ideas of democratic policing; the ‘Peelian’ principles; and the ongoing debates about the purpose of policing and who is being policed. This module will also examine the causes and effects of prejudice, the social problems that can arise from discrimination within and without the police service, and the theoretical and legislative responses that have been developed in response to these issues. This will be done through an examination of actual practice and the drivers behind change. How do general social and academic ideas and legal frameworks impact upon the work of the police, and how have such services responded with initiatives of their own? The module will be taught via a one hour lecture and one hour seminar each week for the whole semester. The assessment will consist of an essay applying theory to policing practice and a case study report evaluating decision-making in professional policing situation.

Year two, core modules

  • Response Policing
    Response policing is often fast-paced and stressful and therefore it is important for Police Constables to develop the knowledge and skills to work effectively in those kinds of environments. This module will focus on response policing and the contribution that social science evidence can make to understanding and reforming it, as well as addressing the social, political and strategic drivers impacting upon contemporary response policing and strategies to remain effective in an increasingly challenging environment. It will provide you with a grounding in law, procedure and practice in relation to response policing. You will also consider the police response to major incidents and the ways in which the police work with other agencies in these situations. The module will allow you to critically reflect on the complex situations and contexts that police officers operate in. You will be expected to demonstrate the ability to apply police related knowledge to hypothetical response policing problems to arrive at appropriate solutions. There will be two items of assessment. The first will be a multiple choice knowledge test concerning the law, procedure and practice of response policing activities focused on during the module. The second will be a written reflective task based on a hypothetical, major incident response policing activity. You will be able to develop key employability skills such as planning and organising, self-management and problem solving.
  • Research Skills for Police Officers
    This is a 'hands-on' module that will provide you with an opportunity to develop practical skills and knowledge to not only understand evidence-based policing but also to conduct and evaluate research in a police setting. You will be required to carry out and present a piece of qualitative research and to critically evaluate a study using quantitative methods of analysis. The module focuses on the development of evaluative skills and practical competence in both qualitative and quantitative methods, providing the kind of understanding which can only be acquired by personal experience. It will enhance your ability to critically assess published research findings and allow you to develop the ability to select and apply appropriate methods in dissertations or projects as well as in your future employment. The assessment for the module is a 2,000 word research report and a 15 minute presentation. The presentation will be the evaluation of a piece of identified policing research, to be determined by the module tutor. This presentation will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to research and an ability to interpret quantitative data and to take into account ethical issues and considerations. The research report will give you an opportunity to describe a piece of exploratory qualitative research, on a topic to be determined by the module tutor and to defend your approach, analyse your findings and suggest possible ways forward for further research. You will be taught by weekly lecture and seminar.
  • Roads and traffic policing
    This module will focus on the core functions and strategies of policing the roads in the UK. It will also investigate the legislation, powers and offences encountered by police officers policing the roads. You will be expected to understand and describe how police investigate roads related incidents including those involving commercial vehicles and anti-social behaviour. The module will also focus on understanding and evaluating the evidence base concerning the effectiveness of roads policing practices. You will be assessed by a written case study of a fictional road traffic incident. The case study must make reference to and incorporate issues identified in the module teaching and learning, particularly regarding the evidence base relevant to the incident. You will be taught by lectures, seminars and workshops that focus on the module learning content and on the specific features of the incident referred to above. You will have the opportunity to develop employability skills such as initiative and enterprise and, planning and organising and, to develop these in relation to the roads policing occupational specialism.
  • Approaches to Policing Problems
    This module builds on the Level 4 module ‘Introduction to Evidence-Based Policing. It aims to expand on and to explore in more depth the discussions around what EBP is, how it should work, and what should count as reliable evidence for determining police practice. The module explores in depth the roots of EBP in crime science, the rise of the experimental approach, and the debate over what kind of evidence should ‘count’. You will explore the ways that evidence is already used in policing, by examining the different models of policing in existence, such as predictive policing and intelligence-led policing, and this will build on their understanding of problem-solving developed in ‘Introduction to Evidence-Based Policing’. You will also explore some of the theoretical basis for existing interventions such as situational crime prevention, and will understand the rationale and development around the development of police standards such as the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice. You will build on your understanding of the stages of an evidence-based approach by exploring how to review previous interventions, develop a range of options, make a case for intervention, and how to evaluate an intervention. You will also explore in greater depth the potential difficulties in embedding evidence-based practice in organisations and in the police service in particular, and how these might be overcome. You will be assessed partly through a presentation in which you will be expected to demonstrate these skills, and by a case study of an existing intervention.
  • Vulnerability and Risk
    Protecting vulnerable people and groups in society and the management of risk are integral to policing in contemporary society. Following on from modules such as Policing Ethics and Professional Policing, you will consider differing definitions of vulnerability and the national drivers for the police service in providing a professional and ethical service to vulnerable people. You will look at the relevant legislation and policies that underpin this service and develop an understanding of concepts and theories of vulnerability and victimisation and the complexity of risk factors that affect these. Theories of the onset of offending and interventions and support that may offset offending behaviour will be evaluated and this will include types of digitally-facilitated crimes and how these can impact disproportionately on vulnerable people. Your understanding of these issues will be assessed through your verbal presentation of a case study involving vulnerability and a report addressing a key issue.
  • Information, Intelligence and Investigation
    This module focuses on the way in which police information and intelligence is used in police investigations in the overall context of the National Intelligence Model. You will be expected to understand, explain and apply underpinning legislation, the sources of intelligence and information, how information and intelligence can be shared with other agencies and how and why problems can arise in the way that the police use information and intelligence. You will need to be conversant with and apply the requirements of PACE codes concerning all stages of police investigations as well as the PEACE interview process. You will be expected to apply the key principles, procedures and legislative requirements of police investigations to fictional scenarios. Whilst you will be formatively assessed (as the module progresses) on your knowledge and understanding in this area, the module will culminate in a series of group scenario investigations, the outcomes of which will be used for the summative assignment, which is a portfolio. You will build your portfolio throughout the module as the mock investigations continue, and present this along with a critical reflection on your learning and development throughout the module. The module will develop your employability by focusing on key areas of policing practice as well developing skills in reflective practice, team-working and communication skills.

Year three, core modules

  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The individual final Major Project module allows you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific discipline. Normally the topic will be agreed in consultation with academic staff and an appropriate supervisor will be appointed to supervise you in your chosen topic. The topic may also be drawn from a variety of sources including: Anglia Ruskin research groups, previous or current work experience, the company in which you are currently employed, or a professional subject of specific interest (if suitable supervision is available). The project topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The chosen topic will require you to identify and formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your findings. Regular meetings with the project supervisor and or/group workshops should take place, so that the project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction. The assessment will normally include a substantial written report, including a bibliography.
  • Police Policy and Reform
    This module will concentrate on how national, local and internal politics operate in the organisation of the police service in England and Wales. The police service exhibits a wide range of groups that represent competing ways of seeing the development of this service. This module seeks to identify these groups, to identify their roles and to assess their relative importance in relation to the internal and external political environment of the public services. In this respect, conflicts about the appropriate direction of police reform will be a theme of the module. In particular the focus is on up-to-date reports and policy documents on the police service and its reform by government, representative bodies and other key stakeholders. In this sense, understanding and evaluating the political and constitutional role of the police in the UK is central to this module. You will be taught by lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the semester. You will be required to give a poster presentation at a conference-style activity, based on an aspect of police reform addressed in preparation for the written report assessment. Where possible, appropriate guests from the public service will be invited to attend this activity to create a realistic conference style environment. You will also be required to submit a written report on contemporaneous police reform. This report will make reference to the various organisations and issues studied in the module and refer to some selected examples of issues or conflicts that have arisen or are currently taking place in the police service. It will also address the strategic direction of the police service into the future. The module is intended to give you a critical understanding of contemporaneous police reform. In this way, it will allow you to understand the immediate and future issues for the police organisation that they are intending to join, and so enhance employability, especially in relation to impending recruitment activities.
  • Community Policing and Crime Prevention
    Community policing has a long pedigree and is embedded in policing practice in the UK. This module examines the history and context of community policing, exploring the different way that community policing has been interpreted, before focusing specifically on the way that community policing is practised in the UK. This module explores a range of key areas of community policing practice, including community engagement and communication, partnership working, problem-solving, and visibility, accessibility and familiarity. You will explore in depth the capacity (and the evidence backing this) of community policing to maintain and increase public confidence in policing, and some of the links between this and procedural justice. You will also explore the evidence supporting the ability of community policing to support community cohesion and local capacity; the relationship between community policing and crime prevention; and review crime prevention theories and strategies, as well as specific initiatives aimed at reducing and preventing crime. Part of the module is also dedicated to exploring areas of policing practice in which community policing can be particularly effective, such as countering anti-social behaviour and low-level crime. You will understand and evaluate how to foster local partnerships in the context of community policing and particularly problem-solving. The module concludes with an evaluation of the future of community and neighbourhood policing in the UK and the challenges to this model at a time of austerity. You will be assessed through a report evaluating community policing in a specific context and an essay.
  • Counter-Terrorism Policing
    In this module you will identify and critically examine terror-related issues through criminal justice, criminological and legal perspectives, considering the key concepts, terminology and legislation associated with counter-terrorism, You will investigate the shift from 'old' terrorism to 'new' terrorism, and various typologies of terrorist, such as the ‘home-grown’, the ‘lone-wolf’, religious extremist, animal rights activist or neo-nazi, and consider the various types of media coverage that each category attracts. The role of the police in attempts to combat terrorism, along with other agencies, will be central to this and you will also consider the potential links between terrorism and other forms of criminality such as serious and organised crime. You will be taught via a one hour lecture and one hour seminar each week for the whole semester. Your assessment will consist of two assignments: an essay of 2000 words that will evaluate the police response to a specified case and a 1000 word briefing document prepared for a senior officer.
  • Public Protection
    Following on from modules such as Policing Ethics and Vulnerability and Risk, this module will allow you to explore the police’s role in protecting vulnerable groups in society in more depth. You will look at key legislation and police processes in public protection cases, such as those featuring forms of abuse, including the various forms of child abuse, domestic abuse and coercive control. You will explore the police response and that of other agencies, to crimes such as forced marriage, modern slavery and sexual offences and hate crime and evaluate the ways in which offences can overlap. Issues of diversity and equality will be central to this and the module will include the ways in which concepts such as stereotypes, myths and personal attitudes can impact on victims and the police in how they deal with such complex cases. The breadth of abuse incidents and the role of the police and other agencies will be covered, along with links with serious and organised crime and sexual offences committed by police officers. This module will enhance your employability through developing a deep understanding of some of the key challenges facing the police service. You will enhance your team working and communications skills through the group task when you will be expected to work with others to present complex information verbally. You will be assessed through a 2,000 word (max) case study report on a chosen aspect of public protection policing and a 30 minute group presentation evaluating misuse of authority in a high profile case.
  • Professional Policing
    Professional policing is an important concept that impacts on the nature of policing in our contemporary and diverse society. In this module you will consider the policing of diverse communities and how differing norms, values, cultures and traditions can impact on policing. The concept of a profession and professionalism will be studied and how these relate to policing through comparing and contrasting it with similar professional organisations. You will explore the nature and role of professional standards and how and why professional malpractice may occur and the potential impact of this on public confidence. The module will also cover the role of the police organisation and other bodies in ensuring that the police deliver a fair, ethical and professional service to the public. Using case studies and scenarios, you will review policing incidents in which ethical considerations have been crucial to the decision-making process. Throughout the module you will develop important employability skills in understanding and applying the key concepts to your own values and ethics and demonstrating the importance of high levels of professional standards in your career. The module is assessed through an essay that will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your awareness of the nature and importance of professional policing.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure (pdf).

Your studies will involve various methods designed to develop your understanding of current issues and debates within policing, and help you apply theory to different scenarios in the role of a Police Constable. This will also be reflected in the range of assessment methods, including essays, portfolios, problem-solving activities, case studies, blogs, policy documents, presentations, and a major research project.

You will also be encouraged to reflect on your evaluative work through group discussions, peer review, reflective writing and self-evaluation, further developing your critical and analytical skills.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

In the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, we use our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond to nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking, and encourage critical thinking, in order to educate, entertain, inspire and understand, as well as to improve people’s lives.

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

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

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

Explore our Cambridge campus

You’ll have the chance to access talks and seminars at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, with which we have close and supportive links.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK students (and EU students starting a course before 1 August 2021) can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes EU students starting a course before 1 August 2021.

Government funding includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a range of ARU scholarships, which can provide extra financial support while you’re at university.

Entry requirements

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We are keen to accept applications from non-standard entrants to this course, not just college leavers with A-Levels. If you have alternative qualifications, have not studied for some years or have relevant professional experience, please get in touch to discuss your application.

  • 96 UCAS Tariff points from a minimum of 2 A Levels (or equivalent).
  • 3 GCSEs at grade C, or grade 4, or above which must include English Language or English Literature.
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 6.0 (Academic level) or equivalent English Language qualification, as recognised by Anglia Ruskin University.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

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

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from 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.

English language requirements

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

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 onto a degree course.

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.

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UK and EU students

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UCAScode: L661

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