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Graduate studies

The Prisons Research Centre welcomes applications from well qualified students wishing to undertake Ph.D research within the Centre's areas of expertise. Graduate students work in the stimulating research environment of the Centre under the direction of their supervisor. Initial enquiries should be directed to Professor Alison Liebling or Dr Ben Crewe according to the person’s specific research interests. More details of the University's PhD programmes and procedures for application can be found on the Institute of Criminology website and the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions website.

Ph.D Opportunities with Professor Alison Liebling

Professor Liebling is interested in receiving applications broadly looking at the changing shape and effects of imprisonment; the role of values in criminal justice; the role of safety, trust and fairness in shaping the prison experience, the work of prison officers, and in the prevention of ill-treatment, in the UK or elsewhere.

Ph.D Opportunities with Dr Ben Crewe

Dr Crewe would be keen to supervise PhD students interested in researching prison social life and culture, prisoner identities and adaptations, prison quality and conditions, and other issues relating to the terms, nature and organisation of imprisonment. Students wishing to get in contact informally in order to discuss potential research ideas are welcome to email him, with a brief CV and a short research proposal. 

Current Ph.D Topics

Ph.D students work on a variety of topics relating to the research of the Centre. These include: 

  • Transformative encounters in prisoner education and their role in desistance. (Judith Gardom, supervised by Alison Liebling)
  • The social experiences of sex offenders in prison: A comparative analysis. (Alice Ievins, supervised by Ben Crewe)
  • The social experiences of sex offenders in prison: A comparative analysis. (Deborah Kant, supervised by Alison Liebling)
  • Emotions in prison: an exploration of space, emotion regulation and expression. (Ben Laws, supervised by Ben Crewe)
  • Faith, race, gangs and ‘the street’ in prison: An inductive analysis. (Dev Maitra, supervised by Alison Liebling)
  • The experience of imprisonment amongst serving and former military service personnel. (Daniel Packham, supervised by Ben Crewe)
  • Democratizing democracy: Re-imagining prisoners as citizens through participatory governance. (Bethany Schmidt, supervised by Alison Liebling)
  • Philosophy in Prisons: A grounded theory in personal development. (Kirstine Szifris, supervised by Alison Liebling)
  • The role of self-empowerment in the process of human flourishing in prison. (Fabio Tartarini, supervised by Ben Crewe)
  • The Prison Based Forensic Psychologist: in Person and Practice. (Jason Warr, supervised by Ben Crewe)