Social Policy and Criminology

The Social Policy and Criminology discipline is recognised nationally and internationally for its distinctive interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. A vibrant research culture, broadly drawing on critical constructivist and interdisciplinary approaches to Social Policy and Criminology is sustained through our commitment to producing outstanding scholarship and research.

Our research – recognised as being of national and international significance – catalyses and informs public dialogue and policy change on many issues in Social Policy and Criminology in the UK and internationally.

We have an international reputation for methodological innovation, with particular strengths in qualitative mixed-methods research, visual methods, biographical and life-story research, discourse analysis, historical methods and ethnography.

Many members of the discipline are actively involved in the Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC), Innovation, Knowledge and Development (IKD) and OpenSpace. Research students are warmly encouraged to join these centres and to take an active part in our supportive and collegial research culture.

Key facts

  • A thriving interdisciplinary research environment.
  • Wide range of research interests and topics.
  • A commitment to socially-just forms of social change.
  • A supportive and collegial research culture that PhD students are encouraged to join.


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study, see Full-time study and Part-time study.

Career prospects

Graduates of our PhD programme thrive in a wide range of different sectors. Many of our graduates teach in universities across the UK and overseas, while others have pursued careers in the civil service, local government, public services, private sector organisations and voluntary and charitable organisations.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Children and young people

Crime, harm, criminalisation and criminal justice

Genders, sexualities, relationships, intimacies

Migrations, diasporas, transnational communities

Regulation, governance, policy process

Social policy and social justice


I’m passionate about social justice and economic independence of all women, in particular, that of childfree young women. I chose the OU specifically as they saw the value of my topic and research and provided me with the flexibility to do this study I designed. The OU has shaped me into the PhD researcher I am today. It has shown me that the research environment can be one of kindness and collegiality.

Sarah HadfieldPhD Student, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences