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Institute of Criminology


The PhD in Criminology is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of the preparation and presentation of a substantial piece of independent and original academic research.

The Institute of Criminology offers both full-time and part-time PhD programmes, and each year admits approximately eight new PhD students. Cambridge doctoral students in criminology are supervised by leading scholars in their chosen fields and student publications have been internationally recognised.

The Institute of Criminology has a worldwide reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. PhD candidates benefit from close links with the Institute's six dedicated research centres, providing them with unrivaled opportunities and the support to develop as independent researchers, while being part of an integrated community of criminologists working at different levels and through multidisciplinary approaches.

The Cambridge PhD is designed as structured, flexible and individual preparation for becoming a professional researcher. It will help students develop the core skills needed by an arts, humanities or social sciences professional researcher of the future, which are valued by both academic and non-academic employers. By the end of the programme, candidates will have acquired the skills, experience and knowledge to undertake postdoctoral work (research and teaching) or another related profession.

Course Directors

The Directors of the PhD Programme are Dr Adrian Grounds and Dr Maria Ttofi


For further details about the PhD Programme contact the : Ms Charlotte Dove

Why study Criminology at Cambridge?

How successful were you at Cambridge?

How has studying Criminology at Cambridge helped you to develop your skills?

Highlights of studying at Cambridge's Institute of Criminology?

What path led you to Criminology at Cambridge?

How to Apply

Applications for entry in 2023/24 will open on 15th September 2022


Applicants for the PhD in Criminology are referred to the relevant sections of the University's Postgraduate 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 PhD Topics (current and past) 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 Postgraduate 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 Postgraduate Admissions 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 Postgraduate 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 2023

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Days will be taking place this year in the autumn. 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!

For more information, and to book a place to attend, please visit the Postgraduate Open Day website

Fees and Funding

If you wish to be considered for funding you must submit your application by 5 January 2023 (or 12 October 2022 if you are a USA citizen resident in the USA and wish to be considered for Gates funding)

Full details on course fees can be found at the Graduate Admissions website.

When considering applying for a course consider the living costs as well as the course fees required during your time here. The finance overview will help you calculate your costs.

There are many funding opportunities at Cambridge from a wide variety of sources including the Cambridge Trusts, Gates Cambridge, Colleges, Research Councils and central University funds. Eligibility for the funds can be based on what course you are studying, your country of origin, or other criteria.

The Graduate Admissions Website has detailed information about these funding opportunities. This includes information about eligibility, how to apply and application deadlines.

There is also a funding search tool which will help you identify possibly funding opportunities.

You are also advised to do your own research on other funding sources, including the Colleges. Competition for funding is high so we strongly advise that you apply for as many funding opportunities as possible, to maximise the chance of success.

On our funding page we have highlighted some funding opportunities where our students have achieved success in previous years.

PhD Training

Training, Support and Development Programme 

The Institute runs a comprehensive training, support and development programme for its PhD students. Frequent seminars are designed to develop research skills, technique and thinking.

While you are likely to be starting the PhD course with a background of suitable research training which you undertook before admission, e.g. through your Masters or MPhil degree, during your time at Cambridge you can broaden this as much as you wish with the number of different opportunities available.

You are advised to discuss your training needs with your supervisor and record any training undertaken. 

PhD candidates are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these training opportunities and the many interdepartmental workshops offered within the Institute and the University more widely.

Researcher Development Programme

The School of Arts and Humanities organises a Researcher Development Programme covering a range of topics from PhD skills training, to language training and writing and editing skills.

Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMC)

The Social Sciences Research Methods Programme is an interdisciplinary initiative offering high-quality research methods training to postgraduate students. The courses offered by the SSRMC cover skills relevant across the social sciences in a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods, from basic training to advanced statistical analysis.​

Seminars and Events

The Institute of Criminology holds weekly seminars and events, and candidates for the PhD are strongly encouraged to participate in the wider research culture of the Institute. These include the 'Brown Bag' seminars (aimed at criminologists at all levels of career progression within the Institute: PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and University teaching officers), Institute Guest Speaker seminars (usually Thursday evenings during term time), and MPhil teaching seminars.

Personal and Professional Development

The University's Skills Portal provides information on the transferable skills PhD students may wish to cultivate and enhance, and lists training opportunities available across the University, together with links to useful resources outside the University.

Careers Service

The Careers Service provides information and resources on jobs and opportunities within different sectors, advice on making applications and interviews, appointments with careers advisors, as well as career panels, skills sessions and events. Its services are available to all alumni for life.

Language Centre

The Language Centre supports the teaching and learning of languages throughout the University and is an excellent resource for academic purposes, whether you need to improve your language skills to help with your research or before undertaking fieldwork.

Current and Past PhD Topics

Current PhD students research topics

Atherley, Loren Testing Evidence-Based Policing as a Strategic Framework:
A Quasi-Experimental Analysis”
Campo-Tena, Laura The Influence of Resilience Factors on the Longitudinal Associations between Adolescent Victimisation and Adverse Mental Health Outcomes
Carlo, Sarah Situational Action Theory as an Inclusive Theory of Intimate Partner Violence: an exploration of moral filtering and sexuality on violence in intimate relationships
Cole, Sam Jordan Translating Collective Efficacy for Effective Policy
Cooper, John Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of offender desistance policing in Durham Constabulary (Operation Checkpoint)

Costa, João

Working on building peace in communities divided by violence

Delimata, Alexandra Mapping the dynamics of recall: Transitions, interactions and decision making in the cycle between custody and community
Denley, John Targeting, testing and tracking police-led and third sector-leg desistance interventions for organised crime group members
Demole, Noelle What are the Modus Operandi (Psychological and Economical traps) used by traffickers to enslave local and overseas women and girls into UK’s illegal sex trade?
Dewan, Sarika Global trends in direct and indirect conflict-related mortality: towards targeted prevention and intervention
Dixon, Sophie Child sexual exploitation networks in the UK: an analysis of how they operate
Donnangelo, Javier Diagnosing the increase in homicides in Montevideo, 2007–2014
Ellis, Sophie Louise Claire Compliance and legitimacy in prison-based forensic psychology practices
Ferreira, Joana Behind bars: Domestic Violence Victims’ Experiences of the Imprisonment of their Partners
Fischer, Ariadni How do people in prison experience inter or intra-institutional family imprisonment?
Gardom, Judith The meaning of books for men in two Cat C prisons in the East of England: an exploratory study.
Goldrosen, Nicholas Network analysis of police misconduct and misconduct sanctions
Hanstock, Richard Hackers, punishment and rehabilitation: a critical evaluation of sentencing practice in computer misuse cases
Harber, Katie Does a replicated Turning Point police-led offender diversion study in NW London show similar or different results to the study in Birmingham and why?
Harinam, Vincent Organized Crime in the Digital Age: An Examination of Cryptomarkets
Hickie, Susannah Protecting the Protectors: What is next for police officers?
Hitchcock, Sydney Investigating the individual, situational and institutional factors informing bystander decision making in UK university students, relating to sexual misconduct
Hutton, Marie A case for change?: the lived experience of the right to respect for one’s private and family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in English and Welsh prisons
Imoro, Mohammed Za-Yan How do Political Settlements Impact the Institutionalization of Anti-corruption Reforms? A case study of Ghana’s Office of the Special Prosecutor and Right to Information Law.
Jarman, Benjamin Moral economy and the pursuit of desistance
Jethwa, Yeshwant Strategies to strengthen investigation and prosecution of violent property crimes (Dacoity)
Kennedy, Laura A situational action theory analysis of the roles of morality and moral contexts in school-based bullying perpetration
Knisley, Alyssa Jordan Group Criminality in the neighbourhood: situating street gangs and social processes within communities in London
Kumar, Sumit Implementing, Tracking and Testing the Pathfinder Programme in Devon and Cornwall: An Offender Desistance Policing Randomized Field Trial
Langley, Brandon Applying a procedural justice checklist in border examinations: a countrywide multi-site randomized controlled trial on legitimacy
Larmour, Simon .Evaluating moralities for variant types of psychopathy conceptualised by the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personalities (CAPP)
Lee, Bomin Childhood conduct disorder and later offending: Identifying protective factors that prevent children with conduct disorders from developing into criminal offenders and investigating the replicability of protective factors over generations.
Li, Rosalie Jiahui Chinese young offenders’ experiences, perceptions and attitudes towards educational and correctional programmes: an exploratory study
Lieber, Elinor Friendship, care, and the flow of power: social relationships in a male and female prison
Liu, Lu How Does Ideology Influence Terrorist Groups’ Engagement in Hostage-taking?
Linton, Ben Targeting, testing and tracking of police interventions to reduce knife crime, focusing on the impact of knife crime prevention orders
Longhorn, Jake No Wrong door: The barriers to and benefits of a new model of social care
Marshall, Hannah  Child Criminal Exploitation and County Lines: A Qualitative Study
Mejia-O'Donnell, Tania Prison Pen-Pals: The Value of Correspondence and Support From Individuals Not Known to Inmates Prior to Their Incarceration
Mullin, Juliette Elizabeth Deaths in the community under supervision post-release from custody
Munshey, Menaal Terrorism, Justice, and Legitimacy in Northwest Pakistan
Neyroud, Eleanor How individual factors relating to perceptions of legitimacy and experiences of offenders on the Turning Point Project mediate successful desistance
Packham, Daniel Military veterans’ experience of imprisonment
Padmanabhan, Kavya Reconstructing “Broken” Ties: How Formerly Incarcerated Mothers’ Parenting Practices Reveal Agency and Resiliency Post-Release
Philip, Sophie

Processes and Consequences of Denial: The Criminalisation of Coercive and Controlling Domestic and Family Violence in England and Wales

Quin, Emily Exploring the ‘Copper’s Nose’ and the discourse surrounding its perceived existence, value and impact on policing in the UK
Raffan Gower, Rebecca New estimates for the economic and social costs of crime in England and Wales
Ramaj, Klea The Albanian cycle of victimisation: Exploring the pathways between maternal exposure to violence and early child development
Rennie, Ailie A short longitudinal study of lifers’ pre-release expectations and post-release realities during resettlement
Rock, Freya

Crime victims' experiences and use of the Victim Personal Statement (VPS) in Crown Court sentencing hearings in England and Wales

Rose, Simon

An analysis of the solvability factors across all volume crime types to fill the gaps in solvability factor research, resolve the contradictions between previous studies and address the challenges to external validity arising from different datasets

Shafi, Faryal Understanding matricide in contemporary Pakistan
Sharma, Kanupriya Negotiating Love & Intimacy Behind Bars: Understanding women's imprisonment and resettlement experiences through the lens of intimate relationships
Shovel, Miriam A critical investigation of ‘positive action’ and ‘positive outcomes’ in the policing of domestic abuse in England.
Skinner, Guy Mental Health and Offending: Inter-Generational Relationships and Causality in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development
Sowatey, Emmanuel Addo The Meanings, Nature and Experiences of Corruption among Police Officers in Ghana
Shi, Shujing Explore the crime pattern of cross-border drug trafficking in Hong Kong
Spence, Alison Mary Post New Public Management: Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy in 21st Century Policing
Svingen, Evelyn Retaliation, reciprocity and crime
Trainor, Sara What is the role of private prosecution in the English criminal justice system?
Tu, Hiu Hei Enhancing the feasibility of Situational Action Theory to explain crimes in Eastern Asian culture
Widdicombe, Benjamin The ‘public interest’ in criminal prosecutions
Xun, Xiaoya Evaluating Youth Crime Causes and Prevention in China with Situational Action Theory(SAT) Framework


A selection of completed PhD theses

Bland, Matthew Targeting domestic abuse with statistics – better than people?
Barton-Crosby, Jennifer Situational Action Theory and Intimate Partner Violence: An Exploration of Morality as the Underlying Mechanism in the Explanation of Violent Crime
Cooke, Barbara Bad to the bone? The effects of dog training programs on factors related to desistance
Cope, Aiden Opening new prisons: a comparative study of the translation of political vision into operational reality
Dahal, Aastha Police conflict resolution processes for spousal violence in Nepal: perceptions of victims and perpetrators
Dominey, Jane Relational dimensions of supervision in a changing context of probation providers for offenders
Droppelmann, Catalina Desistance from crime among Chilean juvenile offenders
Gaffney, Hannah What works in Cyber Bullying Intervention and Prevention? Exploring effective intervention/ prevention strategies and neglected risk factors
Hardie, Beth Why don’t all adolescents commit crime all the time? When monitoring matters for situational explanations of crime
Hendy, Ross To understand how routinely unarmed police resolve person-to-person conflict in their day-to-day work
Horgan, Jane Religion, morality and crime
Ievins, Alice The social experiences of sex offenders in prison: a comparative analysis
Jerath, Kritika Police use of force in UK: A situational action analysis
Larmour, Simon Evaluating moralities for variant types of psychopathy conceptualised by the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personalities (CAPP)
Laws, Ben Emotion management and emotional expression in prisons
Leeney, David From public participation in neighbourhood policing to testing the limits of social media as a tool to increase the flow of community intelligence
Maitra, Dev Faith, race, gangs and ‘the street’ in prison: an inductive analysis
Mitchell, Renee The deterrent effects of police patrol in high-crime hot spots: a randomized controlled trial or Dosage: the missing denominator
Mullett, Margaret Conducting a randomised experiment in eight English prisons: a participant observation study of testing the Sycamore Tree Programme
Muscat, Matthew An examination of financial regulatory enforcement proceedings in Malta in terms of legitimacy theory
Neaverson, Aimee Exploring the cycle of violence: resiliency and protective factors in relation to sexual re-victimization
Neyroud, Peter Putting the police on trial: the management of police field experiments as a process of organizational change: a case study of a randomized controlled trial in pre-prosecution offender management
Parsons, Angelina Managerial influences on police decision-making
Pfeil, Katrin Investigating the effectiveness of the self-administered interview for older witnesses
Reinke-Schreiber, Pascale Police investigative interviews with victims of human trafficking in England and Wales: theory and practice
Reising, Kim Crime and Health: Long-term bidirectional and intergenerational effects between mental and physical health issues and offending behaviour
Sanchez de Ribera, Olga Prevalence of neuropsychological dysfunction among different typologies of sex offenders
Schmidt, Bethany Democratic councils in prisons
Schmidt, William Wrongful Convictions
Shenderovich, Yulia Process evaluation of an evidence-informed parenting support programme in Eastern Cape, South Africa
Szifris, Kirstine Exploring the impact of engaging prisoners in philosophical education
Theodorakis, Nikolaos Efficiency of crime prevention policies for incidents of corporate crime throughout Europe and the US: is contemporary law and policy the sword needed to solve the Gordion knot?
Trajtenberg, Nicolas The idea of causality and explanation in criminological theory
Trivedi-Bateman, Neema The role of moral emotions in decision-making in crime causation
Valdebenito, Sara School punishment and antisocial behaviour: explanations, effects and prevention
Vibla, Natalia Sentencing for multiple offences: towards a conceptual model within a retributive framework
Weinborn, Cristobal Analysis of crime patterns in time and space
Wigzell, Alexandra An ethnography of the young person: worker–supervisor relationship and the role of such relationships in desistance


Course 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 Institute 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 Institute 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 Postgradaute Admisssions Part-time Graduate Study Guide.

Current Student information

Current students can access resources for their course through Moodle (the virtual learning environment for the University of Cambridge), by using your Raven password to login.


PhD application deadline for Michaelmas Term 2023 start date: 16 May 2023

Wakefield scholarship application deadline: 31 March 2023

Manuel Lopez-Rey application deadline: 31 March 2023