The Centre for Criminology is based within the Law Faculty, which has the largest grouping of research-active legal scholars in the UK. Research conducted at the Centre falls within three main research areas: Security, Conflict and Justice; Social Diversity and Population Dynamics; and Understanding Individual Behaviour. 

Research activity in the Centre covers the following areas: border control and the criminalisation of migration; criminology and social/political theory; crime and the family; crime, risk and justice; the death penalty; human rights and criminal justice; policing and security; prisons; public attitudes and responses to crime and criminal justice; sentencing, restorative justice and miscarriages of justice; sociology of punishment; and youth justice.

MSc and DPhil students participate fully in the intellectual life of the Centre, attending formal and informal seminars and Research Stream meetings. The DPhil students run their own Criminology discussion group. Many are members of other groups in the wider law faculty, such as the Oxford Human Rights Hub, and many also forge links with bodies beyond the academy, including UK government departments, the Prison Service and the UN.

The Criminology pathway offers studentships across a range of routes.

The 1+3.5 route allows students with little or no substantive training in criminology to be registered for the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice, before going on to doctoral study.

The +4 route provides for students who have postgraduate qualifications in cognate areas, such as law, to spend a year being trained in core and subject-specific research methods that meet the ESRC 2022 Training Guidelines before commencing work on their doctoral thesis.

The +3.5 route allows students who have completed a relevant Master’s elsewhere to undertake doctoral study at Oxford; while the +2.5 route provides those who have completed an MPhil funded via other sources the opportunity to switch to ESRC-funded doctoral study.

Further information about the DPhil in Criminology can be found here.

The Centre has close links with HMIP, Thames Valley Police and many other criminal justice agencies and groups, which provide students with many opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaborative working. Current and former students have engaged in projects involving working with:

  • police and probation services on issues around offenders with disabilities;
  • Barnado's and the Department of Education on a project aiming to help the children of prisoners
  • the Science Museum in London on an experiment exploring public reactions to neuroscience; and
  • the Police Service of Northern Ireland on issues of public confidence in policing.

Centre staff members also engage in a range of knowledge exchange activities. For example, since 2006 the Centre has organized and run a seminar series for police officers and staff in Thames Valley Police with a typical attendance of around 60-70. Students working on relevant topics are invited to present at and attend these events, as are postdoctoral research fellows.

Destinations for students graduating from the training pathway include: criminal justice professions (e.g. police, prisons, probation services); the legal profession; government, regulators and NGOs; and academia. Recent graduates have moved into lectureships at major UK and overseas universities and research positions at RAND Europe.

Pathway leader: Professor Katrin Mueller-Johnson


University of Oxford

Centre for Criminology within the Law Faculty
Structure of provision: 1+3.5, +2.5, +3.5, +4