Community Justice Learning Required Knowledge Modules (As stipulated by Ministry of Justice in the Community Justice Learning Framework)

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Community Justice Learning Required Knowledge Modules (As stipulated by Ministry of Justice in the Community Justice Learning Framework)

These modules provide the areas of knowledge stipulated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) 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

Designed to translate into the Probation Officer training (PQIP) we deliver here at Sheffield Hallam on behalf of the Ministry, we have translated these modules to have a wider relevance and reach into the Criminal Justice Arena. 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 the modules have been completed, you will not gain a specific qualification but a transcript of undergraduate academic credit will put you in a position where you are able to apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation. We hope that they are thought provoking, enjoyable and worthwhile in themselves, and also applicable to your current work or volunteer activities.


The modules are available individually at a cost of £550 each. There is an instalment method available.


The modules are offered through distance and flexible learning, with the study organised and sequenced in different ways. Modules commence January, April, July and October each year. 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.

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
  • Delivered using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) providing innovative ways of learning and engaging.


  • Meet your tutors on line for help and support
  • Chat to other learners on line
  • Opportunities to engage with interactive activities and discussions
  • Ability to design own learning journey with structured support


  • 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 Required Knowledge Modules

The four Required 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 importance of collaborative working, the experiences and perspectives of offenders and 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 criminal behaviour. 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 on the construction of law and policy in understanding and applying this knowledge to the circumstances 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 is a portfolio of tasks which allow choice and creativity in exploring different aspects of developing panel practice.

Rehabilitation – Philosophies and Approaches


This module aims to engage leaners in exploring and critically appraising the approaches to rehabilitation of offenders and/or substance misusers taken by criminal justice and substance misuse agencies. More specifically, the module aims to encourage learners to critically appraise currently dominant risk-based approaches to rehabilitative work in these sectors, and to explore and consider desistance and recovery paradigms as possible alternative frameworks for promoting and supporting personal change.

The module therefore stimulates leaners to think about processes of personal change and the role of workers in this process. 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 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 to become part of the Hallam Community. You will gain access to a vast array of support mechanisms, resources and be able to engage in debates about a whole range of criminal justice and probation-related topics over and above your module learning.  

There is no pressure to engage with the community, there are many opportunities to get involved however, 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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