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Institute of Criminology

 

Admissions Enquiries

For further details about the PhD course please contact the : Ms Charlotte Dove and Mrs Faith Payne


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.

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 offers both full-time and part-time PhD courses of study. 

  • Each year we admit approximately eight new full-time PhD students (Please note: We only accept full-time students in the Michaelmas Term).
  • Part-time students can start at any Term.

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 a structured, yet flexible course of study, which supports individual development 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 professions.

Why study Criminology at Cambridge?

How successful were you at Cambridge?

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

What are the highlights of studying at the Institute of Criminology?

What path led you to Criminology at Cambridge?

 

 
Course Information

PhD in Criminology Course

  • The PhD course 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. A current list of PhD topics can be viewed here.
  • 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 course 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.
  • Please note: Full-time PhD applicants must apply to start their PhD studies in October (Michaelmas Term), as we no longer accept entry at other times due to the fact that our Research Training Programme begins in the Michaelmas Term.

Part-Time PhD Studies

  • The Institute welcomes applications for part-time study from candidates wanting to further their academic abilities, but who would also like to remain in employment.
  • Part-time applicants can apply to start their studies at any Term. However, it should noted the deadlines for the University's funding competitions are run on an annual basis and they only provide funding from the start of the academic year.
  • 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 (about 45 days per year, as agreed with their supervisor).

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 (up to seven 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 information on Terms of Study, visa and other requirements check the Postgraduate Admissions Part-time Graduate Study Guide.


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 (SSRMP)

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.

Supervisors and Research Topics

Supervisors and Research Topics

Supervisors

Postgraduate PhD applicants are required to nominate a potential supervisor as part of their application.

  • Before applying, please consult the list below to see which members of staff are currently available to supervise PhD students. (An individuals availability depends on several factors: including the number of students already being supervised by each member of staff, their other contractual commitments and sabbatical leave arrangements).
  • When choosing who to nominate as a potential supervisor, it is important that there is some overlap with your own research interests or approach.PhD applications / proposals for doctoral research are unlikely to be successful if there is no suitable supervisor available within the Institute.

Research Topics

You can see the range of topics currently being researched within the Institute on list of current PhD topics webpage.

If you are confident that your proposed research is a good fit with your nominated supervisor, we recommend that you contact them in advance. 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 will always be possible.

If you have any questions about whether your topic is a good fit with your potential supervisor’s interests, you may email them, attaching both a CV with details of the degrees you have taken and the marks you have obtained, and a brief research proposal (1-2 pages max).

  • Include in the main text of your message a short statement about your background (what you have studied so far, your degree result or grade average, any relevant experience) and research interests.
  • Indicate why you wish to work with that member of staff, in particular (not just Cambridge in general), and what you can bring to the research group. Demonstrate your awareness of their research and how it aligns with your research interests.
  • It is helpful to include information on your funding situation and plans.

There is no need to attach references or transcripts.

Please be aware that our PhD supervisors receive large numbers of enquiries, and therefore cannot give detailed feedback on your proposal.

Postgraduate PhD applicants are required to nominate a supervisor as part of their application. 

Please consult the list below to see which members of staff are available to supervise PhD students starting in October 2023. Availability depends on several factors, including sabbatical leave arrangements, contractual arrangements, and the number of students already being supervised by each member of staff. Each listing includes a few words outlining research/supervision interests. When choosing your nominated supervisor, it is important that there is some overlap with your own research interests or approach. You can find more detailed information by clicking through to supervisors’ research profiles. If you have any questions about whether your topic is a good fit with your potential supervisor’s interests, you may email them, attaching both a CV with details of the degrees you have taken and the marks you have obtained, and a brief research proposal (1-2 pages max). Also:

  • Include in the main text of your message a short statement about your background (what you have studied so far, your degree result or grade average, any relevant experience) and research interests.
  • Indicate why you wish to work with that member of staff, in particular (not just Cambridge in general), and what you can bring to the research group. Demonstrate your awareness of their research and how it aligns with your research interests.
  • It is helpful to include information on your funding situation and plans.
  • There is no need to attach references or transcripts.

Please note: No preference will be given to applicants who have made informal contact before applying. Please be aware that our PhD supervisors receive large numbers of enquiries, and therefore cannot give detailed feedback on your proposal.

Supervisor Name                    

Research Interests

Contact Details

Professor Barak Ariel

Policing & experimental criminology.

ba285@cam.ac.uk

Dr Matthew Bland

Evidence based policing; domestic abuse; algorithms in policing & randomised controlled trials.

mpb57@cam.ac.uk

Dr Paolo Campana

Criminal networks; organised crime; issues related to gangs & migrant smuggling.

pc524@cam.ac.uk

Professor Ben Crewe

Penology; penal power; staff-prisoner relationships; prison management & penal policy.

bc247@cam.ac.uk

Professor Manuel Eisner

Violence research; causes of aggression and violence, &prevention and intervention research.

mpe23@cam.ac.uk

Dr Arushi Garg

Gender, race & criminal justice; sexual violence & criminal

ag779@cam.ac.uk

Dr Charles Lanfear

Community structures and processes impact on crime, victimization & social control.

cl948@cam.ac.uk

Dr Caroline Lanskey

Youth justice, education and the arts in criminal justice & experiences of prisoners' families.

cml29@cam.ac.uk

Professor Alison Liebling

Penology; staff-prisoner relationships

al115@cam.ac.uk

Dr Peter Neyroud

Experimental criminology

pwn22@cam.ac.uk

Dr Justice Tankebe

Police and state legitimacy, corruption, police violence & vigilantism.

jt340@cam.ac.uk

Dr Kyle Treiber

Criminal behaviour & Situational Action Theory (SAT).

kht25@cam.ac.uk

Dr Maria Ttofi

Antisocial behaviour, crime and violence.

mt394@cam.ac.uk

Dr Sara Valdebenito

Evidence based crime prevention; school exclusion & bullying; randomised control trials.

sc331@cam.ac.uk

Professor Leo Zaibert

Penal Theory and Ethics, morality of punishment.

lz465@cam.ac.uk

How to Apply - Course Admission Requirements

The application portal for 2024/25 is now live.

Course Admission Requirements

New Admissions

We expect applicants from outside the University of Cambridge, applying for the PhD course, to have a Master's degree, with a distinction or close to distinction or equivalent, preferably in a social science discipline although applicants from other disciplines will also be considered.

Continuing from MPhil to PhD (current Cambridge students)

Both the Institute's MPhil courses provide excellent preparation for doctoral study, and many of our MPhil students choose to stay at Cambridge to pursue a Cambridge PhD. However, we do recommend that current MPhil students considering applying to study for a PhD should complete the MPhil in Criminological Research.  

Continuation from the MPhil course is subject to a MPhil student achieving at least 74 overall. 


How to Apply

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.

Only applicants have access to their applications on the application portal.  The Institute cannot

  • Full-time students: 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. Full-time PhD students have Terms of Residency requirements to full.  This mean that you must live within ten miles of the city centre for research students and those taking most other postgraduate courses.  You will normally be required to live in Cambridge throughout the year, apart from short breaks taken between terms (taught students) or at times agreed with your supervisor (research students).
  • Part-time students: We welcome applications for part-time PhD studies. Part-time applicants can apply for flexible start dates, however, they should note that the deadlines for the University's funding competitions run on an annual basis. Part-time students have attendance requirements to fulfil, details of which can be found on the Terms of Study webpage. For more details we advise that you check the Postgraduate Admissions Part-time Graduate Study Guide.

Completing your Application

Statement of Interest

 

 

On the application form your statement of interest should:

  • Capture more broadly why are you interested in Criminology as a subject. What are the criminological themes that attract you and why?
  • Outline some of your reasons for studying Criminology. You should mention particular academic interests you may have in the field of criminology and how you see these fitting in with your medium- and long-term plans.
  • Be no more than 1500 characters long (including spaces and punctuation between words).

Reasons for Applying

On the application form your Reasons for Applying statement  should be no more than 1500 characters long (including spaces and punctuation between words).

The Research Proposal

The 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.

  8. This must be uploaded as a Supporting Document.

NB: 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. 

Sample of Work

  • You need to submit one sample of your academic writing.
  • This should be between 1,500 – 5,000 words long.  
  • Applicants tend to submit either an essay or piece of coursework from a previous degree or a chapter from a dissertation.  The sample of written work is more about showing your academic abilities and style of writing so it doesn't need to on a Criminological subject or directly related to Criminology.  Many applicants don't come from a criminological background and most tend to submit a piece of course work from their current or previous degree.
  • This must be uploaded as a Supporting Document.

 

The PhD course code is: LWCR21

 
The Institute welcomes applications from suitably qualified applicants of all nationalities. Proposals for doctoral research on any criminological topic will be considered. We recommend that you look at the list of current PhD Topics for an idea of the range of research topics Criminology students are undertaking.

Apply Now


When will I receive a decision?

PhD applications are considered on a rolling basis (as they are received). We aim to assess and make a decision for all applications within eight weeks of receiving a complete application form (which includes two academic references).

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 Zoom depending on the location and availability of those involved.


Applicant Admission Frequently Asked Questions (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.

Funding your Studies

Funding your Studies

If you wish to be considered for University based funding you must submit your PhD application in full by 4 January 2024, or 11 October 2023 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 Postgraduate 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 Postgraduate 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.