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  6. Community Justice Learning Knowledge Modules (Areas of knowledge stipulated by National Offender Management Service (NOMS))

Community Justice Learning Knowledge Modules (Areas of knowledge stipulated by National Offender Management Service (NOMS))

These modules provide the areas of knowledge stipulated by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) as a prerequisite for Probation Officer training.

To apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) programme, you will need a degree or a recognised level 5 qualification, or above, such as an honours degree, a foundation degree, a diploma of higher education, a level 5 vocational qualification or a higher apprenticeship. Additionally, you should be able to demonstrate level 5 knowledge and understanding in the following, perhaps as part of your qualification

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
  • Penal Policy and the Punishment of Offenders
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders

Although designed to go alongside the probation officer training that we deliver at Sheffield Hallam, we have translated these into modules with a wider relevance and appeal. Our modules are

  • Perspectives on Criminal Justice
  • Crime and Criminal Behaviours
  • Practices in the Penal System
  • Rehabilitation – Philosophies and Approaches

If you already have a level 5 qualification or above which covered some of the required knowledge modules, you will only require completion of the missing learning. We offer the flexibility to undertake 1, 2, 3 or 4 of these core modules.

Once you have completed the modules you will not gain a specific qualification but the undergraduate credit will put you in a position where you are able to apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation. We hope that they are enjoyable and worthwhile in themselves, and also applicable to your current work or volunteer activities.


The modules are available individually at a cost of £525.00 each. There is an instalment method available.


The modules are offered through flexible learning, with the study organised and sequenced in different ways. According to your needs and circumstances the programme could be completed in 6 months with two core modules taken simultaneously, 9 months with two modules simultaneously then two consecutively, or each module taken consecutively and therefore taking 12 months to complete.

Module start dates are January, April, July and October. You can study one or more at the same time, depending on what you feel you can manage.

Distance learning

  • Each module lasts 3 months
  • All essential resources are made available on line
  • Varied activities to help you learn
  • Step by step guidance through each learning session


  • Materials presented in blocks (4 sessions at the beginning and 4 sessions half way through the module) so you choose when and how you learn
  • You have choices so you can tailor your learning so that it matches your work setting or particular needs/interests


  • Meet your tutors on line for help and support
  • Chat to other learners on line
  • Opportunities to engage with interactive activities and discussions...
  • ...but it's OK just to learn quietly on your own as well


  • Varied and interesting assignments relevant to practice (eg case studies or work-related projects)
  • Early assessment to give you feedback and pointers for development
  • A real emphasis on high quality guidance from tutors - in writing, on video and using Q&A on line

Key features of the Mandatory Knowledge Modules

The four Mandatory Knowledge Modules

Perspectives on Criminal Justice


This module provides a broad exploration of academic discussions on the criminal justice system and the policies and practices active within it. We specifically emphasise key debates relating to social justice and human rights, the assessment of risk and ways of responding, the experiences and perspectives of victims and, finally, the interrelationship between theory, research, policy and practice.

The module is designed for those who have knowledge of the criminal justice system and its broad processes, either through personal interest, previous study, or working across a range of areas within the public and private sector which deal with vulnerable individuals. The assessment is an enquiry-based project related to the activities in the module teaching so it is built up cumulatively over the module.

Crime and Criminal Behaviours


This module analyses crime and criminal behaviour, drawing on a range of different approaches to crime and deviance. We introduce theoretical explanations for crime and criminal behaviour drawn from disciplines including sociology, psychology and criminology. You will explore the behavioural, situational and cultural aspects of criminality, looking at the causes, classification and realities of particular crime types. By the end of the module you will be able to take a critical view of the theories and models presented, and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical perspectives. The module considers the wider social and political contexts in which crime occurs and can be explained and understood.

The module is designed for those who are new to the inter-disciplinary subject as well as those who have some experience of the subject, and is assessed by the application of the theories learnt to case examples.

Practices in the Penal System


This module is designed to stimulate thinking about the penal system, the organisations involved and what has shaped it. It covers a certain amount of history and political context, but the emphasis is on understanding current developments and the challenges of working in contemporary penal practice.

The themes of the module are change and continuity in penal provision and practice, recognising that new organisational arrangements may impact on values and culture, but that certain interests and approaches are reconstituted in new settings. All agencies face questions of punishment versus rehabilitation, risks versus rights, and the need to be both consistent and flexible in responding to diverse needs and circumstances. The module looks at how - and how well - they each manage this, and the module assessment, which is an inquiry-based project, allows opportunity to explore and evaluate one chosen area or aspect of penal practice in depth.

Rehabilitation – Philosophies and Approaches


This is an exciting module based around emerging ideas and debates about personal change and desistance from crime. We emphasise the findings from contemporary research and studies of offenders and those in recovery from addiction, linking these to practices in probation and other agencies. It is about different understandings of personal change and how we create environments that support change. There is some consensus about what helps and certainly clear ideas about practices that get in the way of change, but many conclusions and the efficacy thereof in this emerging field remain up for debate.

The module stimulates thinking about personal change and what engages and motivates people to change. In particular, it poses questions such as

  • What do we mean by rehabilitation and what is its place in the penal system?
  • How do desistance and recovery orientations challenge more established rehabilitation approaches?
  • What do we know about the processes involved in moving on from offending and substance use?
  • Is the goal of a non-offending or non-using lifestyle enough? What else is there?

The assessment for this module takes the form of an initial written assignment which will be developed in a second, extended piece of work. Both relate to rehabilitation or recovery approaches and their application in context, allowing you to draw on any relevant practice experience.

The CJL Community at Sheffield Hallam

By enrolling on any of the Mandatory Knowledge Modules at Hallam you become part of our learning community, which provides opportunity for engaging in debates and finding out about a whole range of criminal justice and probation-related topics over and above your module learning. Engaging with the community can enhance your experience although, of course, it is up to you how much or how little you wish to do so. There are many opportunities to get involved but, as with all distance learning, you are in the driving seat and are able to direct much of your own study to your lifestyle and commitments, as well as your interests.

We hope you will join us here at Sheffield Hallam University and that we can help you achieve what you want from your learning. This may be different to your previous experience of study but we are committed to high quality teaching that is designed to help you develop professionally and personally. Please get in touch if you want to know more or if you have specific questions for us.

If you wish to apply or want to find out more please contact us at

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