Criminology - Research

You'll be a social scientist committed to multidisciplinary research that builds knowledge and capacities in the communities around us, and that has a positive impact on wellbeing. You'll work in academia and/or social research, the public or third sector, and have an interest in areas such as victims and/or perpetrators of crime, children’s rights, policing, youth and criminal justice, people who have come into conflict with the law, education, conflict and social change, and social inequality, for example.
Staff in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work publish world-class research which has local and global impact. Our funders and partners include research councils, government departments, the EU, the Council of Europe and large foundations. Our research informs the development of policies in many areas, including education, criminal justice, teaching and learning, the well-being of children, social cohesion and justice, mental health and trauma informed practice.

Students are encouraged to join one or more of eight research centres in the School.

The Centre for Justice Studies (CJS) provides a focus for criminological research. The scope of CJS research includes the causes and correlates of crime and other forms of social harms, as well as the responses of the criminal justice system. The CJS aims to encourage and support world-leading research on crime and justice related topics; to facilitate linkages between researchers and justice agencies, reform and abolition groups; and develop international excellence in criminological research; to create a vibrant culture of criminological ideas.

The Centre for Technological Innovations in Mental Health and Education (TIME) develops technology based, inter-disciplinary research in the areas of mental health and professional education and training. Key strategic drivers relate to the new Northern Ireland. Mental Health Strategy. The Centre has a particular focus on developing partnerships with industry, service providers and policy makers.

The Centre for Inclusion, Transformation and Equality (CITE) focuses on inclusion, transformation and equality, addressing core themes of disability; gender & LGBTQ+; equality in education; and ethnicity, race and decoloniality. The four key drivers of CITE are Inter-disciplinarity and intersectionality; building a collaborative and inclusive research culture; impactful research; and participation and co-production.

The Centre for Child, Youth and Family Welfare (CCYFW) provides insights into the lives of children, young people, and families and to achieve better welfare outcomes and improve wellbeing. The centre undertakes high quality research impacting children, young people, and families across regional, national, and international contexts. Staff work collaboratively with policy makers, agencies, practitioners, children and young people, families to review existing evidence, knowledge, and interventions, identify gaps, and develop new theoretical insights, interventions, tools, and models to enhance service delivery.

The Center for Children’s Rights (CRC) is internationally renowned for its research on children’s rights aimed at improving their lives. The CRC focuses on substantive children’s rights issues, children’s participation in decision making and children’s rights-based research methods. The CRC has a reputation for its consultations with children and is known for its work with various UN organisations such as UNICEF.

The Center for Shared Education (CSE) is committed to promoting sharing in education as a mechanism for delivering economic, social and educational benefits to children, schools and society, particularly in post conflict societies. The CSE has three core aims: to increase understanding of school-based sharing; to develop and share the model of shared education; to foster expertise and support practitioners.

The Centre of Language Education Research (CLER) conducts research in language and education to make difference across local, national and international contexts. The expertise of spans language assessment, literacy studies and multimodality, academic discourse, language materials development, and heritage and minoritized language communities, among other topics.

The Centre for Applied Behaviour Analysis (CABA) focuses on the discovery of natural laws of behaviour, the study of how behaviour is shaped by environmental contingencies and how changes affect behaviour. ABA is based on a philosophy of inclusion, evidence-based effective education, and person-centred research and practice, and covers three distinct fields: radical behaviourism; experimental analysis of behaviour and applied behaviour analysis.

Course structure
You are expected to take research training modules that are supported by the School. These modules focus on quantitative and qualitative research methods, and include participatory action research, arts-based research methods and multimodal interaction analysis, for example. Students will be provided with the SSESW PhD student training and engagement programme at the start of the academic year. You are also expected to carry out your research under the guidance of your supervisor.

Over the course of study, you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School. This training contributes to your training record which may be discussed at your annual progress reviews (APR).

You will normally register, in the first instance, as an 'undifferentiated PhD student' which means that you have satisfied staff that you are capable of undertaking a research degree. The decision as to whether you should undertake an MPhil or a PhD is delayed until you have completed 'differentiation'.

Differentiation takes place 9-12 months after registration for full time students and 18-30 months for part time students. You will be asked to submit work to a panel of two academics who will then meet you formally to explore your research at the 'Differentiation Panel'.

The Panel will make a judgement about your capacity to continue with your study based on the feasibility of your research design and commitment. Sometimes students are advised to revise their research objectives or to consider submitting their work for an MPhil qualification rather than a doctoral qualification, but this outcome is very rare.

To complete a doctoral qualification, you will be required to submit a thesis of approximately 80,000 words. You will defend your thesis at a viva voce [oral examination] with an external and internal examiner.

A PhD programme runs for 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time. Students can apply for a writing up year (thesis only) should it be required.

The PhD is open to both full and part-time candidates and is useful preparation for a career within academia or consultancy.

Full-time students are often attracted to research degree programmes because they offer an opportunity to pursue an area of academic interest in some depth.

A part time research degree is an exciting option for professionals already working in the education field who are seeking to extend their knowledge on an issue of professional interest. Part time candidates often choose to research an area that is related to their professional responsibilities.

If you meet the Entry Requirements, the next step is to check whether we can supervise research in your chosen area. We only take students to whom we can offer expert research supervision from our academic staff. Your research question needs to engage with the research interests of one of our staff.

Entry requirements

The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.


3 academic years full-time, 6 academic years part-time.

Enrolment dates

Entry Year: 2024/25

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in businesses or the public or third sector. Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability.

Employment after the Course
For further information on career development opportunities at PhD level please contact the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Career Development Team on / +44 28 9097 5175 The AHSS Development Officers will be happy to provide further information on your research area career prospects.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral at UK Level 8

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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