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Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence Based Practice

Police officers in London

The qualification and its component modules

The qualification is designed for police officers and staff, including managers working in the police service in a variety of capacities. It offers development in aspects of evidence-based practice so that participants who have completed the qualification will be better able to understand and use evidence appropriately when carrying out their daily work and also in projects in their workplace.

Participants starting the qualification will need to have completed 150 hours relevant CPD (as agreed with the OU’s Policing Consortium and with the College of Policing). Participants will then complete two 30 credit modules, (U810) Continuing Professional Development in Practice and (BYP834) Improving your Practice. The 150 hours prior CPD will be used within the framework of U810.

The first module allows participants to draw on and build on CPD that they have already undertaken. This module requires participants to evaluate the value and effectiveness of their prior CPD and identify the impact that it has had on their practice.

The second module allows participants to undertake a more specifically targeted programme of study aimed at improving their knowledge, understanding and professional skills relating to evidence-based practice and the use of research within their own function. The programme of study has been co-designed and constructed with the Centre for Policing Research and Learning at the OU to meet the specific needs of the participants, their employing organisations, the College of Policing and the qualification standards. As part of their studies participants will develop and submit for assessment a well evidenced plan and set of actions for a project for improvement in their own functional area of work.

The OU is exploring whether the Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence-based Practice can be extended into a Masters course (as the OU has done with healthcare professionals). This is under discussion and we will update the website with further details when we can.

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Support in your studies

Each participant will be allocated a tutor who is responsible for supporting their participants’ learning using various media such as email and telephone (for individual coaching and tuition), asynchronous online group forums and synchronous OU Live (for group learning). Tutors are also responsible for marking and responding to student submissions of the Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) on each module. The marks for these TMAs make up 50% of overall grading for each module, and the formal feedback provided by tutors is a vital tool for achieving individual learning. The tutor is also part of a broader Student Support Team , whose purpose is to help the participant deal with any obstacles to successfully completing their studies studies such as help with improving e study skills , what to do if there is a need for a pause in studying (e.g. a promotion, illness, or family matters). 

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Learning outcomes

The Postgraduate Certificate is awarded on successful completion of the two compulsory modules outlined above. It recognises that the student has gained a broad knowledge and understanding of the issues associated with the appropriate use and integration of evidence and learning in the workplace. They will have applied this to assess their own work situation leading to the development of well evidenced proposals for improvement and innovation.

The broad learning outcomes of this qualification are:

Knowledge and understanding

Participants will be able to:

  1. make sense of their own context, taking account of the wider context in which they are operating – including the public policy environment and national and international trends, and the local, regional, national and international demand for policing context – and identify the bearing this has on the professional repertoire of skills, knowledge and understanding that they need and have sought from CPD (continuing professional development).
  2. apply knowledge and experience and relevant theory to understand complexity and implications for their own and others roles and their organisation and partnership working.
  3. make sense of new knowledge and information.
  4. critically evaluate the impact that a selection of their CPD practice has had on their work practice.
  5. identify appropriate strategies for integrating their learning from CPD activities into work practice.

Cognitive skills

Participants will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  1. think analytically and in an integrative way.
  2. evaluate critically.
  3. make reflective and informed links between theory and practice.
Key skills

Participants must be able to:

  1. use logical and coherent argument and evidence.
  2. act autonomously when critically reflecting on and evaluating their own learning and CPD.
  3. draw on appropriate knowledge, skills and techniques that they have gained through their CPD.
  4. communicate effectively and appropriately, complex information, arguments and ideas and conclusions about the purpose and scope of CPD.


Practical and/or professional skills

Participants must be able to:

  1. integrate Masters level study with practical issues.
  2. demonstrate an ability to identify, assess and make critical use of relevant learning and development and organisational improvement literatures and theoretical frameworks to analyse their own professional development.
  3. better identify and decide about future development opportunities within the context of the environmental, personal and organisational demands upon them and their understanding from the course of professional learning.
  4. identify key dimensions of a significant change that they would like to make in order to improve their practice.
  5. design a process to implement and evaluate the change taking account of the environment in which they are making the change.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the entry requirements for this qualification?

Entrants must have attained first degree (BA/BSc/BEd) or equivalent qualification OR gained exceptional entry from the qualification chair via the recognition of prior learning (RPL) process.

How long will it take to complete?

It takes a minimum of 12 months of part-time study to complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence-based Practice. Each module is 6 months in length and requires approximately 12-15 hours study per week, including all reading, online activities (including peer learning), tutor contact and assessed work.

Can anyone apply?

The first set of registrations are to forces involved with the Policing Consortium but from November 2016 the intake will be open to applications from any force.

What counts as CPD?

In some professions the individual practitioner is required to undertake a specified amount of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in a given period e.g. 150 hours of CPD every three years, as part of their professional updating. This is linked to their ongoing status as a practitioner (often referred to as their ‘licence to practice’). There is currently no such a framework in policing, so it is possible that a wide variety of work-based or work-related learning activities can be counted as evidence of CPD for the purposes of the OU PG Certificate in Evidence-Based Practice.

You may have had one or a combination of the following different forms of learning experience linked to your current work role over the last three years:

  • in-house training course/programme organised by your employing organisation
  • external training course related to your job role
  • study for a qualification (at NQF level 3 or above) related to your role or professional development
  • induction programme to a new role
  • work-based project
  • informal learning or development process informed by appraisal targets
  • other form of individualised workplace learning such as coaching or mentoring (as both mentee and mentor)

In preparation for studying the first module Continuing Professional Development in Practice, (U810) we recommend that you list all the work-based/related learning experiences you had had in the last 3 years and assess how many learning hours each one has taken. As a rough rule of thumb, for formal study or training courses, with each 2 hours study, teaching, training, mentoring, or coaching, you should allow yourself an additional 1 hour for absorbing the learning. So for example, if you took a two day training course of approximately 16 hours (2 x 8 hour days), you should allow another 8 hours as learning time. Hence this would count as 24 hours of CPD.

For work-based projects, the learning hours should be linked to the time you spent writing up your part of the project or your contribution to a group report e.g. in meetings. So let’s say you spent three months (12 weeks) working on a project with a 1 hour weekly meeting and then spent 3 hours writing your report (total = 15 hours).

The most important thing for the assessments on U810 is that you can provide objective evidence that you have completed the learning you claim.

If I don’t have 150 hours CPD what else can I do?

Chances are, when you have added up all the formal and work-based learning subject to our guidelines above, you will have completed around 150 hours of what we would categorize as CPD. If not we recommend you examine the OU’s range of informal, online learning materials (known as Open Educational Resources or OERs) which are free and open to anyone. The two main online platforms for these are:

  • Open Learn – this is the OU’s repository of freely available learning materials, from samples of OU study modules to researcher blog posts to video clips. You can browse these at your leisure and study longer courses at your own individual pace.
  • Future Learn – this is the Open University’s platform for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which it shares with around 30 other university’s and learning institutions. Course entry is free but you will become part of a cohort of peer learners who start and progress their study at the same time.

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How to register

Postgraduate Certificate in Evidence-based practice registration process

The Postgraduate Certificate has been designed and developed specifically for officers and staff of policing organisations around the UK, to address the demand for learning and development in evidence based practice. It recognises and builds on prior learning both in and outside the workplace to develop students’ skills for effective professional practice, and provides essential knowledge in the planning and implementation of their on evidence based initiative. For more information email us at


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