Checklist of things to consider when applying for academic study

What course should I study?

There’s no right or wrong answer but you should choose something that interests you and will contribute to your professional development. The directory has a list of all the courses and Universities signed up to the RPL process. Some of the things you may want to consider when choosing a degree course are:

  • What interests me, work wise?
  • What might benefit me at work?
  • What would I like to do in the future?
  • What would benefit my force?
  • How is the course taught?
  • How long is the course?
  • How much does the course cost?
  • There are a number of places you can look to help you decide, here are a couple of places to start:

Choosing a course

Choosing a course which?

How do I want to study?

You also need to think about how you want to learn. Some people are happy reading a book while others prefer to engage more with other students.

Universities teach in a number of different ways and it’s important you check how your chosen course will be taught.

Different teaching methods could include:

  • Lecture style learning
  • Learning via technology and distance learning
  • Group work
  • Experiential Learning and work based learning
  • Block release learning
  • For more information on learning styles overview have a look here:  Learning Styles Overview
  • Which learning style suits you have a look here: Which Learning Styles Suits Me
  • If you want to find out more about what teaching method might best suit you try completing this short questionnaire (approx. 15 mins) about your learning style: Vark Questionnaire


Where do I want to study?

As well as thinking about what you want to study, and how you want to study it, you also need to think about where you want to study.

This may be influenced by whether or not you choose to undertake a distance learning course.

If you don’t it’s important to know whether or not you will be expected to attend lectures, tutorials or other events and how often. You will need to commit to attend these events and this may affect your decision as to where you want to study.

Even if you do choose a distance learning course you may still be expected to attend some residential events.

Is it the right time for me?

With complex and challenging roles and a private life it is important that you consider whether now is the right time to take on this challenge.

Completing study is worth the time and effort but it does require commitment and motivation on your part. You will need to study in your own time and Universities will expect you to commit to the course, attending where necessary and submitting work on time.

Talk to family and friends about how study might impact on you and them.


How long will study take me to complete?

As an example, a part time degree typically takes 6 years to complete. However the RPL process allows you to use your past learning and experience to reduce this.

The credits you are awarded through the RPL process may mean you do not have to complete certain credit bearing modules, if you can show that you have achieved the learning outcomes practically. This could mean you can start a course part way through.

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Credit Estimator

Where will I study at home?

A lot of your study is likely to take place in your own home, whether it’s research, writing up assignments or accessing additional learning.

It’s important that you have a place where you can concentrate on your studies with as few distractions as possible.

You can find lots of tips on studying at home on the internet.

If your home isn’t suitable it may be worth speaking to your Line Manager about whether there is somewhere in force you could study.

Home learning study tips

Stonebridge distance learning tips

What equipment will I need?

Exactly what you need will depend on the course you are studying but generally these are some of the things you may need to study:

  • A computer – if you don’t have your own it may be worth checking with your force to see whether you are able to get access to one through them (make sure it can access the necessary sites).
  • An internet connection – you may be required to submit work electronically there are also numerous resources available on line to help you with your study so internet access will help.
  • A computer program such as Microsoft Word to complete work – it is worth checking with your course leader to see whether any other courses would be useful.
  • Course materials – these can vary from course to course, there may be text books or material might be available to download online

If you want to update your computer skills BBC Webwise provides a number of helpful tutorials.

What is a University going to expect of me?

Universities will expect commitment to your course and submission of work on time. However, they do understand that as a mature student working full time you will have both personal and professional commitments.

It is important when you choose your course that you check how the course will be taught, eg, distance learning, classroom based teaching, to make sure it suits you and your personal and professional situation.

The way a course is taught will affect what is expected of you. You may be expected to attend a minimum number of contact hours (lectures, tutorials, group work etc) and these may be during the day, on evenings or at weekends so it’s important to consider what you can commit to before signing up.

It’s also worth checking whether your force can support you by providing you time off for study, this will be dependent on individual force policy.

It is likely Universities will also have a Code of Conduct that they expect students to abide by, they will usually provide you with this when you start.

What is my force going to expect of me?

If your force is providing you with any form of support it is likely there may be conditions attached, to find out exactly what they are you will need to check with your force.

Your force might expect:

  • Your studies to be linked to organisational priorities
  • Your studies to add to your continuing professional development
  • You to repay part or all of any financial  support you may have received if you leave the course or the service
  • You to match any time off given for study
  • You to undertake projects that help meet organisational needs
  • You to share your learning, knowledge and research

Don’t forget the Code of Ethics still applies to you as a student.

What has worked well for others?

Being able to talk to other individuals in similar situations with similar constraints can really help. Online group chats can really help with this, Slack chats, Whats App, Skype, Google hangout

It can provide support and reassurance from peers as well as discussions around the topics being taught.

Being able to access university resources such as Moodles and online blackboards is also really helpful.

Additional free tutorials can often be found on You Tube to help you and most Universities have on line access to journal publications.

The College of Policing also hosts the free National Police Library.

Case Studies