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Crime, harm, criminalisation and criminal justice

Fight for Legal Aid, Westminster, london, March 2014

Social Policy and Criminology at The Open University has an established reputation for critical scholarship, which is informed by a dynamic and thriving research environment. Our research programmes take a critical approach to ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions about ‘crime’, ‘the criminal’ and/or ‘justice’, including a critical interrogation of the meaning of Criminology as a discipline.

The discipline spans a diverse range of research areas. In the area of policing, our research has included studies of policing and gender, and occupational culture as well as violence and police brutality and an ethnographic study of homicide detectives. Current research projects in this area include studies of police corruption, integrity and ethics.

With respect to imprisonment/punishment our research ranges from empirical examinations of prison life (such as the harms experienced by women and young people) to broader questions surrounding penal policy, the use of punishment and the concept of justice, including the Scottish context.

Another key research area is the incidence, nature and regulation of corporate and state crimes and harms, academic criminological and socio-legal responses to the economic crisis, corporate and state power and the research process.

The way in which urban culture intersects with crime and justice has featured in research on bouncers and the night-time economy, gentrification, licensing and planning law in the shaping of nightlife and local government health and safety regulation.

This is not an exclusive list of research areas. Other ongoing research projects relate, for example, to: the criminalisation of young people's non-participation in work, education or training and of homelessness; sexual and other forms of violence; the governance of disengaged youth; gendered harms in social justice movements; and the implications of Scottish nationalism for criminal justice policies.

Staff in this research area are members of the Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC).

Image: Fight for Legal Aid, Westminster, London, March 2014. Photo: Chris Beckett. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives License

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) and MA/MSc

Potential research projects

For guidance on choosing a research project, please visit our website. Information there will help you identify and articulate your research project, and tells you who to contact to discuss it with before writing your proposal and submitting an application.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Professor Nicola Yeates
+44 (0)1908 654534

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.