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Criminology (MPhil / PhD)

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first or second year. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Birkbeck has a rich tradition of rigorous, socially engaged research into critical criminology and criminal justice scholarship. The Department of Criminology, founded in 2016, is a hub for this research. It is also home to the renowned Institute for Criminal Policy Research, a world-leading, influential research centre that produces the World Prison Brief.

MPhil/PhD Criminology students benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts and secondary supervisors, and programmes in criminology theory and research. Our academic staff understand crime through research on power and inequality, and are led by principles of social and racial justice. We focus on contemporary social and policy problems, from prison abolition, migration and deportation, and social welfare, to gendered violence, terrorism and drugs.

Our work covers a range of themes, from punishment, policing, security and surveillance to organised, corporate and state crime. We contribute to contemporary debates using different theoretical approaches including political economy, psychosocial, feminist, critical race and queer theory.

For further information about staff expertise and areas of supervision, please see our academic staff profiles. You may contact academic staff direct for support with an application to the MPhil/PhD programme, prior to formal submission.

Highlights

  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top three in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 REF rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • Our research community has grown rapidly in recent years. This reflects the School of Law's growing reputation as a training ground for early-career academics working from critical and theoretical perspectives. 
  • Our students have achieved awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), British Academy, Overseas Research Students Awards, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and internal Birkbeck and School of Law Studentships.
  • We offer financial assistance for conference attendance where appropriate, a comprehensive programme of independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress and postgraduate student representation on the School board.
  • Additional training is available through Department seminars and workshops, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and the AHRC and Interdisciplinary Research Training Network.
  • There is a bustling social and extra-curricular calendar for students including the esteemed Annual Criminology Lecture, Law on Trial events week, Criminology Research Seminars, Criminology Careers Events and a summer party.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good honours degree in law or a related discipline from the humanities or social sciences.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £2296 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4327 pa
    Part-time international students: £6375 pa
    Full-time international students: £12625 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    The School of Social Science, History and Philosophy attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    The School of Law is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. It provides an exciting and innovative environment for a wide range of research with a strong theoretical and policy focus. The School publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal ThoughtRead more about our research.

    Study resources include an induction programme for all postgraduate students, which offers classes on methodology, and regular research seminars, workshops and conferences.

    Birkbeck Library has an extensive collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines such as economics, politics and sociology. For example, it provides access to over 17,000 electronic journals, which are available online 24 hours a day. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.

    Birkbeck is also home to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) and the Centre for Law and the Humanities

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck: 

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page. 

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. 

    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Draft a research proposal of 300-1000 words. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress. 

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply throughout the year. If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines, so consult the websites of relevant funding bodies for deadlines. 

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    Before applying, you will need to find a supervisor within the Department of Criminology who shares your intellectual and research interests and who can support you through the researching and writing of your thesis. Read more about the research expertise and areas of supervision of our academic staff