This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- At Stage 1 you’ll study two 60-credit introductory modules – one with a focus on law and one with a focus on criminology.
- Next, in Stage 2, you’ll complete your diploma with two further 60-credit modules. The first explores public and criminal law, and the second examines social welfare and crime control.
At Stage 1, you’ll begin with a broad introduction to criminology, thinking about the ways in which the study of crime has been informed by a variety of disciplines. You'll also be introduced to key social problems and criminal justice responses. Next, you'll explore criminal law and the courts, looking at how the criminal law operates in real-life scenarios and how the English criminal justice system operates within the wider legal system.
At Stage 2, you'll begin by developing your knowledge and understanding of criminological concepts and theories, with a focus on how these concept and theories can help you to understand, interpret and reinterpret the social world in new and exciting ways. Next you'll explore the relationship between the state and the individual in the UK by considering the UK constitution and some areas of administrative law. You'll then go on to learn about the law of evidence which determines what evidence the courts can consider within court proceedings.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Law uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying online – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- online tutorials
- developing numeracy and academic writing skills
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- working collaboratively with other students
- finding external/third party material online
- using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
- working with specialist reading material such as legal cases and statutes
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills
- some modules may require you to use specialist software (for example the OpenStudio)
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Criminology and Law.
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module
Skills for career development
As well as the specific knowledge gained from studying this diploma, you'll develop many transferable and work-related skills that are highly valued by employers. You will develop skills in critically scrutinising and reassessing everyday understandings of crime and criminal justice, as well as knowledge of the key institutions which make up criminal justice and legal systems. You will study some of the foundations of legal knowledge and develop legal research skills as well as skills of comprehension, analysis and presentation.
This diploma opens up a diverse range of career paths, including:
- advice work
- community development
- the crown prosecution service
- human resources
- local government
- mental health support and drug rehabilitation
- the police, prison and probation services
- refugee and victim support
- crime and justice
- social and youth work.
Outside of criminal justice and legal professions, typical employers include:
- banks and insurance companies
- the NHS
- educational institutions
- HR departments
- local and central government.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- adult guidance worker
- advice worker
- chartered accountant
- Civil Service administrator
- community development worker
- housing manager/officer
- human resources officer
- local government officer
- police officer
- prison officer
- probation officer
- crime and justice worker
- social worker
- trading standards officer
- youth worker.