Important changes to courses from September 2021

Single annual enrolment for all programmes
In 2020 the police in England and Wales together with input from other employers developed a forensic collision investigator degree apprenticeship. The degree apprenticeship has now been approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships with the proviso that it must be delivered as a full time programme. This means that at some stage the complete degree must be aligned to the academic year so that it can run alongside the apprenticeship. Not to do so would mean that an apprentice starting later than September in any year could not complete the apprenticeship within the time limit set by the Institute. These changes will affect both apprentices and degree students.

This is a large change for UK police forces who have traditionally had four opportunities in any year to enrol a student on a UCPD.

It has been decided to make this change from September 2021 meaning that from this date there will be one annual intake for UCPD students in September of each academic year.

There are 60 classroom based places available each year.

Will the change affect the distance learning UCPD?
It will not impact customers who use the distance learning UCPD which will continue to run as normal starting in January and finishing in September.  It remains an excellent way of getting a collision investigator up and running with the basics.  However, if you take this route you may find you cannot follow straight onto the CertHE if there are insufficient spaces.  This UCPD is a standalone programme.  

When will the Apprenticeship start?
In relation to the apprenticeship, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) shut in April 2020 and remain shut (January 2021) due to the pandemic. It is the ESFA who authorise educational institutions to deliver apprenticeships.  Their closure for such a protracted period means it is now too late for us to put the necessary infrastructure and approvals in place to start the on-boarding process for July 2021.  Thus although the degree will change to match the requirements of the apprenticeship in 2021, the apprenticeship itself is not expected to come online until September 2022 and only then if there are sufficient numbers (45 apprentices annually) to make it viable.  

Change in the way the UCPD will be delivered
To complete the UCPD within one academic year and to mesh with the apprenticeship, which requires on the job training, we have to adjust the way in which we provide the classroom learning. The new delivery system will see an end to the four week Part I and the two week Part II which have existed in England and Wales since the early 1990's. The new system will see students attend for 5 one week blocks at the interval of one block every four weeks. Please note that time off at Christmas and Easter means that sometimes it will not always be exactly four weeks!

Between the residential blocks, the students will have some degree work to complete which will include some online tasks.  They will also have practical tasks to learn with their employers such as scene training, measurement training etc., (this part will become the apprenticeship).

Integrated CertHE for full time students
The CertHE distance modules run alongside the UCPD residential modules. As soon as the UCPD residential modules end the CertHE residential modules start alongside the UCPD distance modules. If you are studying full time you enrol on the CertHE and study two modules at the same time, usually one residential and one distance.

Should I study part time or full time
You need to consider whether a full time or part time route is the best for you. You won't have the choice if you follow the apprenticeship route, it's full time only but if you are following the degree only route you will shortly have a choice. Everyone's circumstances and learning abilities are different, however here are the basic facts.

Part time
Part-time study is roughly equivalent to studying at half the rate of a student on a full-time course at university.

  • You will study 60 credits worth of study a year.
  • You'll need to find around 16-18 hours to study each week.

Full time
If you want to complete your qualification at the same rate as a student at a traditional university for example, complete the Honours degree in three years, you can choose to study full time.

  • You will study 120 credits each year.
  • You'll need to find around 32-36 hours to study each week.

Inevitably, unless your employer has agreed to let you study in work time, the number of hours you will need to study means giving up some of your own time and cutting down on some of your social activities, especially if you are studying full time. The Open University provides some excellent advice on how to find time to study and the things you may have to consider moderating. There is an online planner which we strongly recommend you take a look at. Click the link to see more.

Feedback shows that, of those part time students who leave the programme early, most do so because they cannot find sufficient time at home and at work to complete the learning and assignments. Remember that a big part of any degree is doing your own research in your own time.

It also means that unless your employer is going to give you time to study at work and you are prepared to make up the rest of the time at home, the full time route is not the route for you. Remember you will be studying two modules at a time for the majority of the year.

Apprenticeship for existing Collision Investigators
If you have been a practicing Collision Investigator for a while but wish to complete the degree apprenticeship, it is possible to hop onto the apprenticeship programme to gain further knowledge and skills. However there are a few rules,

  • If you already hold an FdSc you cannot join the apprenticeship to top up to a BSc.
  • If you hold a UCPD or a CertHE and have completed some level 5 modules such as motorcycle collisions, pedestrian and pedal cycle collisions, advanced crush damage analysis etc. and you use these skills as part of your job, you will not be able to join the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship can only be used to acquire new skills, ones that you currently do not have.

Unfortunately these rules mean it is unlikely that experienced CI's carrying out a full range of activities will be able to join the apprenticeship. However the programme will be suitable for newly qualified practitioners holding a UCPD or CertHE.


AiTS have been training collision investigators in the UK and overseas since 1996. We are also the UK's main provider of Roads Policing, Prohibitions and Tachograph training in the UK and Ireland.

Social Links

Contact Us

Unit A5, Lakeside Business Park, South Cerney
Tel: +44(0)1285 864650 email: