criminal justice

Foundation Degree in Criminal Justice

  • Already working or volunteering in the prison service, criminal justice system or an allied area and want to gain an accredited qualification to help advance your career?
  • Interested in developing your practice skills and understanding more about the theory and evidence that underpin effective practice in criminal justice? 

The Foundation Degree in Criminal Justice (FDCJ) draws upon a broad range of disciplines such as Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Law, Social Policy and Philosophy to actively encourage the development of analytical, reasoning and reflective skills. You will engage with academic literature and debates related to the criminal justice system and specific criminal behaviours, while evaluating a wide range of research and evidence applied in the context of your work.

What level is the course?

  • FHEQ L4 & 5
    (equivalent to study in the first and second years of an undergraduate degree)

How will you be assessed?

Computer Marked Assignments (CMAs)
A range of Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs), including:

  • Short answer questions
  • Case studies
  • Reflective accounts
  • Briefing papers

Who accredits the course?

  • University of Suffolk

How long will it take to complete?

  • 108 weeks (just over two years part-time)

What are the entry requirements?

We are firmly committed to a policy of open learning and there are no specific academic entry requirements for this course, you just need to be motivated to succeed. However, to join this practice-based course you must be employed or volunteering within the prison service, criminal justice system or allied area for the equivalent of at least one day a week.

See Student Support for how we can help you during your course to realise your full potential.


What does it cost?

  • The cost of the Foundation Degree for 2021/22 is £4800

This is made up of:
Certificate of Higher Education in in Criminal Justice: £2400
+ Level 5 Criminal Behaviours module: £1200
+ Level 5 Professional Practice Skills in Criminal Justice: £1200

All prices are inclusive of VAT

Payment plans are available – please see Fees and Funding for more information. If you are being sponsored on this course, please have your sponsor details ready when you register.


When can you start?

  • 2022 (dates tbc)

You will study four modules, the first two of which make up the Certificate of Higher Education in Criminal Justice (Cert HE CJ). Two of the modules last 24 weeks and two last 30 weeks. The course provides a detailed overview of how the criminal justice system works and the principles on which it is based and covers important areas of criminal justice practice including the needs of people who offend, assessment and planning, rehabilitation and multi-agency working.

Using our unique digital platform, you will learn through video case studies, extracts, reflective activities and interactive quizzes. You will be able to study anywhere and at any time; either online or on the app, which you can use even without an internet connection.  You will also have a dedicated Learning Coach who will support you on your learning journey and assess your work.

Click on the modules below to see more.

Investigate the operations of the criminal justice system, including issues affecting criminal justice policy that are of historical importance and contemporary relevance.   You will study six blocks:

  • History of crime and punishment
  • The criminal justice system – an overview
  • The English legal system
  • The measurement of crime
  • Cyber crime and policing of ‘the dark web’
  • Psychology of crime

Develop the skills necessary to be a professional, reflective practitioner and critically explore how you would act in a professional setting through 4 blocks of learning:

  • Multi-agency working
  • Working effectively
  • Relationship-based practice
  • Reflective practice

Examine a wide range of criminal behaviours by considering categories of crime that include serial killers and crimes of the rich and powerful in six blocks:

  • Criminologies of the right and left
  • Gender, crime and justice
  • Serial killers
  • Crimes of the rich and powerful
  • The social construction of guilt and innocence
  • Researching crime

Enhance further the skills already developed with emphasis on becoming a high performing professional, reflective practitioner by studying:

  • The needs of people who offend
  • Assessment & planning for care, safety & rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Transitions

Your Career

The Foundation Degree in Criminal Justice (FDCJ) provides a great opportunity for those working in the Prison Service, Criminal justice System and allied sectors (e.g. delivering specialist services aimed at people who have offended, such as substance misuse, domestic violence or mental health) to develop their practice skills in ways that are evidence-based and grounded in relevant theory.

Further Study

Completing the FDCJ means that you will be two thirds of the way towards achieving a BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice.

See our main criminal justice courses page for how you can progress to the next study level.