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Institute of Criminology

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Applications for entry in 2022/23 will open on 1st September 2021


Applicants for the PhD in Criminology are referred to the relevant sections of the University's Graduate Admissions website. 

The course code for the PhD is LWCR21

The Institute welcomes applications from suitably qualified applicants of all nationalities. Proposals for doctoral research on any criminological topic will be considered. See the list of current PhD research for an indication of the wide range of topics Criminology students are undertaking.

Applications for the PhD in Criminology must be made through the University's Graduate Admissions Office. The formal PhD application process will only begin with the submission of your application through the Applicant Portal

Applicants for the full-time PhD should expect to enter the Department in October as we no longer accept entry at other times due to the fact that the research training programme begins in Michaelmas term.

We welcome applications for part-time PhD studies. Part-time applicants can apply for flexible start dates, however should note the deadlines for the University's funding competitions which run on an annual basis.

For residence, visa and other requirements check the Part-time Graduate Study Guide.


The PhD Programme at the Institute of Criminology is a research-based degree, involving independent work under the guidance of a supervisor, whose research expertise falls closely within the aims of the planned PhD research.

If you wish to contact potential supervisors before submitting a formal application, you should reflect carefully on which staff member best matches your academic interests (please consult supervisor profiles for details on their research interests). When contacting a member of staff, it is essential to send a copy of your research proposal (see below for guidelines) and not just a general statement of interest. 

If no potential supervisor is expressly stated in your application, 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 with relevant academic expertise available within the Institute.

Research Proposal

Your research proposal should be no more than four pages (~2,000 words) in length (not including the bibliography). Further guidance on what to include in your research proposal is included below:

1. Suggested title of PhD project

2. A literature review that shows the respects in which your proposed work builds on and will augment, clarify, or qualify existing knowledge

3. A clear statement of research questions and hypotheses

4. Methodology - A feasible research design including a discussion of the methods you will employ (qualitative research; quantitative research; mixed-methods approach, etc) and why they are appropriate; study participants/data sources you plan to utilize, including how you expect to obtain access to them; further details about how the fieldwork will be conducted, etc.

5. Timeline of research; indicating a general timeline about when literature review will be completed, when it is hoped that fieldwork will commence and be completed, writing up stages, etc.

6. Implications for policy and practice arising from the suggested research

7. Suggested supervisor - Applicants are strongly encouraged to look at the profile of our academic staff members and indicate their preference about potential supervisors (up to 3 suggested names). Applicants should keep in mind that beyond the quality of the PhD proposal, it is important that a supervisor is in place who is able to supervise the specific topic.

All proposals will be submitted to Turnitin, an online service that checks work submitted to it for matches with an online database, for possible plagiarism. 

When will I receive a decision?

Applications for the PhD are considered on a rolling basis (as they are received). We hope to be able to respond to all applicants within eight weeks of receiving the initial application.

Applicants should expect to be interviewed by their prospective supervisor and other members of the admissions panel. Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via Skype depending on the location and availability of those involved.

Applicant FAQs

The Graduate Admissions Office has a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the applications process. Please refer to these while making your application and throughout the process of applying.

Postgraduate Open Day 2021

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Days will be taking place this year 1-14 November. During the Open Days you will be able to access webinars, videos and resources from departments and Colleges. These sessions and resources will help you to learn more about the courses on offer, hear from students about life as a postgraduate student at Cambridge, discover funding opportunities and explore the Colleges and other University facilities using the 360 photography and videos on the Virtual Tour. We look forward to welcoming you!

You can book your place here

For more information, please visit the Postgraduate Open Day website



Funding Deadlines

6 January 2022 is the funding deadline for October 2022 entry.

Application Deadline 

16 May 2022: For entry in October 2021



Entry requirements

A Master's degree, with at least a high pass (67 per cent) from a UK university or equivalent from another institution (3.6/4 GPA in the United States), preferably in a social science discipline, although applicants from other disciplines will also be considered.

If your degree is not from the UK, check the International Qualifications section of the Graduate Admissions website to find the equivalent in your country.


Supporting documents

Applicants will need to provide the following documents when applying for the PhD in Criminology. Please see the Graduate Admissions website for further details.

  • Two academic references
  • Transcripts
  • CV/resume
  • Evidence of competence in English
  • Statement of interest (1500 characters, around 300 words)
  • Research proposal
  • Sample of academic written work. This should be a dissertation chapter, essay or another piece of writing that you feel shows your suitability for the course. The suggested word length is between 1500 and 5000 words.

Applicants for the Gates Scholarships will need to provide details of an additional referee who can provide a personal reference.