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Criminology

MPhil/PhD

Application options include:

Full-time Part-time
On campus

Course Overview

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 and is a hub for this research. We are home to the renowned Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, a world-leading, influential research centre that undertakes a wide range of work on justice, including the production of 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.

Key information

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Highlights

  • Our research community has grown rapidly in recent years. This reflects our 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 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 our board.
  • Additional training is available through 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.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework with 83% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    Entry Requirements

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

    English language 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 and funding requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student 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.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant visa and funding requirements by country.

    Please note students receiving US Federal Aid are only able to apply for in-person, on-campus programmes which will have no elements of online study.

  • Fees Fees

    Fees

    Criminology MPhil/PhD: 7 years part-time or 4 years full-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023-24 or 2024-25

    Academic year 2023–24, starting October 2023, January 2024, April 2024

    Part-time home students: £2,500 per year
    Full-time home students: £4,712 per year
    Part-time international students: £7,165 per year
    Full-time international students: £14,175 per year

    Academic year 2024–25, starting October 2024, January 2025, April 2025

    To be confirmed

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

    If you’ve studied at Birkbeck before and successfully completed an award with us, take advantage of our Lifelong Learning Guarantee to gain a discount on the tuition fee of this course.

    Fees and finance

    PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 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.

    We offer a range of studentships and funding options to support your research.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Our research culture Our research culture

    Our research culture

    We are an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. We provide an exciting and innovative environment for a wide range of research with a strong theoretical and policy focus and publish 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 Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICPR) and the Centre for Law and the Humanities

  • How to apply 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 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 and entry is during October and January. For October entry, applications must be submitted by 15 August. For January entry, applications must be submitted by 15 November.

    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. 

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section.

  • Finding a supervisor Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    Before applying, you will need to find a supervisor 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