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Programme Structure

PhD in Criminology 

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.

Candidates for the PhD are usually expected to be resident in Cambridge for at least 9 consecutive terms (three years) for full-time students, or 15 terms (five years) for part-time students. Completion of the doctoral programme involves, among other requirements, the writing of a dissertation of between 55,000 and 80,000 words (exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words, exclusive of bibliography).

Every PhD student in the Institute of Criminology is supported by a supervisor. Supervisors are experts in their field of study and support students throughout the PhD. PhD candidates will also benefit from the advice and support of other academic members of staff who will be involved in progression through the various stages of the PhD, from the registration assessment exercise at the end of the first year through to the completion of the thesis.

Upon completion and submission of the PhD thesis, students do an oral examination (viva) with two examiners, one internal to the University of Cambridge (not the supervisor or research advisor), and one external (from any other University in the UK or the rest of the world). After a successful thesis defence, the examiners recommend awarding the degree of PhD.

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.

Part-time PhD Studies

The Department welcomes applications for part-time PhD studies from candidates wanting to further their academic abilities but who would also like to remain in employment.

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.

It is important to note that the part-time PhD at Cambridge is not a distance-learning course. Part-time students are expected to fully engage with the Institute, to integrate into the research culture of the University and to attend on a regular basis for supervision, study, skills training, research seminars and workshops.

Applications for the part-time PhD will be assessed as to whether 

  • the proposed research is feasible for part-time studies.
  • the applicant is able to sustain a part-time approach to study.
  • the applicant is able to fund five years of study.
  • the applicant lives close enough to Cambridge to be able to fulfill attendance requirements.

An offer of a place is given based on an individual five-year research plan which sets out your attendance requirements for training and seminars, frequency of supervisions and progress stages.

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