Courses | Ph.D

Penology Course Class


The Institute has a well-established programme for those wishing to study for a doctorate. Each year, a small number of students are admitted to the doctoral programme. Candidates for the Ph.D. must normally pursue supervised research in residence in Cambridge for at least nine consecutive terms (three years) for full-time students, or 15 terms (5 years) for part-time students. Completion of the doctoral programme involves, among other requirements, the writing of a dissertation of up to 80,000 words exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography.

The Institute encourages applications from suitably qualified applicants of all nationalities. Proposals for doctoral research on any criminological topic will be considered. See the list of current Ph.D. topics for an indication of the wide range of topics currently being researched. However, proposals for doctoral research are unlikely to be successful if there is no suitable supervisor available within the Institute.

It is therefore imperative that applicants review the staff members' departmental pages before formally applying and contact a possible supervisor to discuss their proposed doctoral research (please follow further detailed instructions below, under 'Applications').

Please choose from the following for more details:


The PhD Programme at the Institute of Criminology is by and large a research-based degree, involving independent work by the student under the guidance of a supervisor, whose research expertise falls closely within the aims of the planned PhD research. Proposals for doctoral research are unlikely to be successful if there is no suitable supervisor (i.e. with relevant academic expertise) available within the Institute. The following list provides the names of staff members who are currently available to supervise PhD students.

Applicants might wish to contact potential supervisors before submitting a formal application (please refer to the profile page of each supervisor for details on their research interests). Prospective students are advised to reflect carefully on which staff member best matches their academic interests. Please do not send requests to multiple members of staff.

The formal Ph.D. application process will only begin with the submission of your application through the Applicant Portal. Applications for the Ph.D. in Criminology must be made through the University's Graduate Admissions Office. Application packs can be downloaded from the Graduate Admissions Website where you can also find information about how to apply on paper if this is your preferred option.

  • You are best advised to apply online using the Application Portal
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to read carefully the guidance notes on 'How to apply' which are available at the Graduate Admissions website.

Applying to Cambridge involves a very competitive process and it may be wise for interested applicants to consult International Qualifications on the University's Graduate Admissions website. Applicants may indicate one or more potential supervisors in their application. If no potential supervisor is expressly stated, the Admissions Panel will try to match applicants with willing supervisors based on academic interests and area of expertise, but there is no guarantee that this would always be possible. Proposals for doctoral research are unlikely to be successful if there is no suitable supervisor (i.e. with relevant academic expertise) available within the Institute. The Admission Panel will only consider applications that contain all the relevant documentation, including a CV and PhD proposal. (for guidance on the PhD Proposal, please click here).


All doctoral students are able to enjoy the facilities of the college to which they are admitted, as well as the considerable facilities which the Institute and the University more generally are able to provide. Among the resources likely to be of particular use are:

  • The Radzinowicz Library, one of the world's leading collections of criminological materials;
  • The University Library, one of the country's legal deposit libraries, entitled to copies of all books published in the UK and Ireland;
  • Numerous other departmental libraries;
  • The various computer facilities around the University.

Training, Support & Development Programme

The Institute runs a comprehensive Training, Support and Development (TSD) programme for its Ph.D. students. Attendance at TSD seminars is compulsory and considered part of the PhD students’ duties. Weekly seminars are designed to develop research skills, technique and thinking. There are TSD internal workshops and students are also able to attend the many interdepartmental Ph.D. workshops. Experts on statistics and computing are available for consultation by prior arrangement and both introductory and specialised computing courses are run by the excellent University Computing Service.

Further Information

Prospective students may wish to consult the University Graduate Studies Prospectus which contains, amongst other information, further details regarding the University, colleges, facilities, finances and the application procedure.
Those interested in any aspect of the Ph.D. degree, including admissions, are encouraged to contact the Graduate Administrator directly.


Applicants are encouraged to consult the Graduate Admissions guide to funding opportunities at the University of Cambridge.

For further information on other possible sources of funding, please see our funding pages.