If you want to study first, you can do a three year degree in professional policing at a participating university at your own expense and then apply to a force and follow a shorter on-the-job training programme. Becoming a special constable is part of this route.
In the first year, you would apply to become a special constable with the force, and if successful, would volunteer in this role for the duration of their degree. In the third year, you would apply to be a police constable through the standard recruitment process.
It will be a three year degree course. If successful, you would become a police constable in the June/July of your third year. As you would have gained independent patrol status as a special constables, you can be deployed straight to division with no further training required.