Private Investigator Course Level 3

Gain insight into the world of Private Investigation, and develop key skills in surveillance and evidence collection.

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Are you tenacious, inquisitive, and logical? Do you have nerves of steel, and razor-sharp intuition? If so, then you might just have what it takes to become a private investigator. Before you start, however, you’ll need some essential skills.

Dive into the fascinating world of the PI and learn to think like a sleuth with this in-depth level 3 course.

What you'll learn

Unit 1 - An Introduction to Private Investigation

First thing’s first: let’s talk about everything you’ll need to become a PI, and run through the fascinating history of this profession. In particular, you’ll take a close look at the pioneering work of Eugene Francois Vidocq, who shaped the process of police investigations and forensic profiling.

Unit 2 - Breaking into the Business

So, you’d like to set up your own PI business? First, let’s examine why people will be at the heart of everything you do, and who you might need to help you. We’ll run through how much you should charge for your services, and bad PI practices you should avoid at all costs.

Unit 3 - The skills and qualities needed to thrive as a private investigator

Observation and concentration. Communication. Courage. Quick thinking. These are just some of the essential skills that all PIs need, but what exactly does this mean? And how can you improve on your existing skills? In unit three, our expert covers all of this, and more.

Unit 4 - The ethics of being a private investigator

Being a private investigator is a position of great moral responsibility, so it’s important that you behave ethically at all times. In this section, we’ll take a look at exactly what that will mean for you in your new career; for instance, you’ll need to co-operate with law enforcement, and make sure your reports are always truthful.

Unit 5 - The law of private Investigation

Of course, to be effective in your job, you’ll need to know your way around the law. In this section, you’ll be guided through the key legislation that will govern your work as a PI.

Unit 6 - Types of investigation

Let’s get down to business: investigation. We’ll take a look at the types of investigations you might find yourself pursuing, such as matrimonial disputes, personal accidents, missing persons cases, and more. You’ll discover how to interview suspects and witnesses, use exploratory questioning, and gather evidence.

Unit 7 - The scientific method

Gathering evidence for a case is more of a science than an art. Next, we’ll examine exactly what information you’ll need to collate on a suspect, and how evidence at a crime scene is handled.

Unit 8 - Interviewing and Interrogation

Information is the business of a private investigator. In this unit, you’ll learn the difference between suspect interrogations and witness interviews. You’ll also discover ways to develop a rapport with your interviewees, explore body language and find out the importance of remaining objective as a private investigator.

Unit 9 - Introduction to Surveillance

Surveillance is a critical weapon in any PI’s arsenal, so you’ll need to know how to use it effectively. Here, our expert will guide you through how to prepare for a surveillance operation, what to wear, the technical preparation required, and the logistics you’ll need to consider. You’ll also look at how to safely pursue someone in a vehicle, without drawing their attention.

Unit 10 - Surveillance Equipment

So, now you know how to surveil someone, but what equipment will you need? We’ll run through exactly what you’ll need to invest in, and how these gadgets will aid your investigatory activities.

Unit 11 - More on Business and Corporate Investigation

Business and corporate security offers a wider variety of opportunities for a PI than any other speciality. For instance, you might find yourself investigating compensation claims, or fraud cases. You’ll take a close look at these types of cases, and the work they might entail.

Unit 12 - Missing Persons Investigations

When a police investigation goes cold, the families of missing people often turn to a PI for help. The art of locating people who have gone missing is known as ‘skip tracing’, and we’ll take a look at the kinds of cases you might get to investigate, and what they’ll involve. You’ll also take a look at how you might help adopted children re-connect with their birth parents.

Unit 13 - Managing the Investigation and the Products of the Investigation

Being knowledgeable about the laws that apply to an investigation is important for the success of a private investigator, and in this section, we’ll cover just that. You’ll discover the rules and regulations that cover pretexting and deception, how to legally gain access to information, and more.

Unit 14 - Setting up your Private Investigator Business

There are many things to consider when setting up your own business; tax agents expect timely compliance, creditors and investors expect payment. Employees also hold expectations, as do clients. In this section, we’ll cover all these things and more, so you’ll be prepared and ready to make your very own PI business a success.

Extra info

Awarding Body


With a heritage stretching back over 150 years, NCFE is one of the largest awarding bodies in the UK. Over 340,000 students were awarded certification by NCFE last year.

NCFE Customised Qualifications are bespoke, unregulated qualifications developed to meet the specific needs of learners. These courses fit in where there are no other regulated qualifications are available. Meaning you can achieve recognition from a well-respected awarding body, even if there isn’t a pre-existing qualification in a certain subject area.

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Course Outcome

At the end of this course, successful learners will receive a NCFE Customised Qualification and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the details all of the units you have completed as part of your course). You can read more about NCFE here.

How is this course assessed or examined?

Each unit is followed by a written tutor-marked assignment (TMA), which is submitted and then marked by your tutor. You will not be required to take an external exam.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course, however, it is recommended that you have an intermediate ability to read and write English.

Our Career Guides that include this course

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How to Become a Detective

Read the career guide

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Do criminologists get paid well?

The Government’s national career service states that the average salary for a criminologist can start at £23,500 and go up to £36,000 once you’ve gained experience.

Although, becoming a criminologist is not the only pathway you can take once qualified. You can also work in the police or probation sector, within the forensics department or become a civil service administrator.

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​​How long does a criminology course take?

That depends on which criminology course you select and whether you opt for a traditional school setting or an online one. Our online criminology courses can take, on average, between six and 12 months to complete.

Because you have access to your learning materials 24 hours a day, and there are no set lesson times, you’re in complete control. As a result, you can complete your course in less time or take longer should you need to.

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Why study a criminology course online with Oxbridge?

If you’re interested in a career in the criminal justice sector, taking a criminology course with Oxbridge could set you on the right path. Whether it’s A-level Law, Forensic ScienceCrime Scene Investigation or an Advanced Criminology Diploma, we offer a range of online distance learning courses that are perfect for budding criminologists.

You’ll be studying with a trusted and experienced distance learning provider with outstanding support guaranteed when you enrol with us. Our award-winning learning platform and supportive, knowledgeable tutors have led to our students achieving remarkable pass rates.

You can enrol online or speak with our learning advisers for more help and advice.

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What is a criminology course?

Criminology is the study of crime from a social perspective. It sets out to examine crimes and those who commit them, with a view to preventing them in the future and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

It falls under a subgroup of sociology, so you can expect to study biology, psychology, penology and more as part of your education.

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Are you ready to change your world?

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