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Research degrees
Research areas
Social policy and criminology
Social policy and social justice

Social policy and social justice

The focus upon work at the intersections of social policy and social justice renews longstanding research concerns within The Open University and sets out an exciting new terrain upon which these might be developed. The research topic broadly coheres with the range of the Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC), a multidisciplinary research initiative drawing on expertise from Arts and Social Sciences (notably social policy & criminology, history, psychology and sociology). It also coheres with and is further renewed and extended through on-going research in conjunction with the Innovation, Knowledge and Development (IKD), a multidisciplinary, cross-Faculty research centre which focuses on (amongst other things) the relationship between social policy and social justice in global and international contexts. This is a dynamic research theme which is open to many possible postgraduate research projects.

Qualifications available

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Research degree fees.

Entry requirements

An applicant seeking admission to the degree of MPhil or MPhil with the possibility of transfer to PhD should normally hold the minimum of an upper second class honours degree, or a Master’s degree in an appropriate cognate area from a UK University or other recognised degree-awarding body. Other entry routes are possible

Potential research projects

  • Corporate crime and harm
  • Critical analyses around justice – criminal, social and territorial
  • Globalisation, social policy and development
  • The harms of austerity and social injustice
  • The history of criminal justice
  • Homelessness and housing
  • Policing
  • Prisons, and other sites and processes of incarceration
  • Research methods
  • Social harm and zemiology
  • Social inequalities and social divisions of ‘race’, ethnicity, class, gender, age, sexuality and locality
  • The state and the welfare state
  • Youth un/employment and youth justice
  • Utopias and utopian social theory 
  • Various forms of criminalisation, non-criminalisation and regulation.

Our department has 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.

Research students connected to this area are encouraged to participate in the supportive and collegial research culture in the department and the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies.

Current/recent research projects

We are open to receiving proposals on a wide range of research projects on this broad topic. For guidance on choosing a research project, please visit the Faculty of Social Sciences Research 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.

Potential supervisors

This theme encompasses most members of academic staff in the Department. The departmental website gives the main areas of research expertise of academic staff, as well as links to their personal webpages and research publications.


Rough sleeper

Further information

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

Professor Nicola Yeates, SPC Postgraduate Convenor
Email: FASS-SocialPolicyCriminology-Enquiries
Phone: +44 (0)1908 654534