Postgraduate research 

Criminology PhD/MRes

Statue holding scales of justice

A vibrant research community in criminology supports students to become excellent researchers who are theoretically informed, methodologically skilled and actively engaged in public dialogue about crime and justice.

  • PhD: 3 years full-time; 5 years part-time; Thesis of 70,000-100,000 words
  • MRes: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time; Thesis of 12,000-15,000 words


Broadly, our work aims to better understand the harms and conflicts that we criminalise and penalise, the harms and conflicts that criminalisation and penalisation cause, and how we might develop responses which could create fairer and safer societies rather than exacerbating social injustices and inequalities.

Our staff are involved in many research projects and networks in Scotland, the UK, and internationally. As well as guaranteeing support from postgraduate researcher supervisors at the cutting edge of the discipline, this creates opportunities for students to engage in dialogue with related government departments, criminal justice organisations, NGOs, people with lived experience of criminal justice and activist groups seeking justice reform and/or abolition.

Glasgow is a founding partner and administrative base of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research(SCCJR) which spans five Scottish universities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Stirling and Strathclyde). For staff and postgraduate researchers, SCCJR provides access to a wide range of activities and development opportunities.

Though we draw on a wide range of disciplines, our approach to criminology at Glasgow is rooted in and informed principally by sociological analyses of crime and punishment. We insist on interrogating the relationships between criminal and social justice andinjustice.

In particular, our staff have expertise in:

  • Young people, crime and youth justice (especially youth violence and gangs)
  • Social and legal responses to gender-based violence
  • Criminalisation and punishment of women
  • Inequalities and intersectionality (including in relation to disability)
  • Security studies, including policing and regulation
  • Sentencing and the penal system, particularly imprisonment, parole and probation
  • Desistance from crime, rehabilitation and reintegration
  • Media, culture and representations of crime and punishment
  • Criminological theory, including urban criminology, cultural criminology, critical criminology, digital criminology, sensory criminology, punishment and society studies, and feminist perspectives
  • Creative and collaborative approaches to criminological research
  • Illicit markets, including the contemporary global trade in looted cultural objects

Our research degrees offer unique opportunities:

  • Collaborating with and access to others who care about doing justice in better ways and to better effect
  • Training in research methods and skills, not just in established quantitative and qualitative methods, but also in mixed methods research and in more recent or emerging approaches such as creative, visual and digital methods.
  • Developing new theoretical, conceptual and interdisciplinary approaches to studying crime and justice.

We host and support numerous training and professional development activities for students, many of them student-led, often in collaboration with our partners in SCCJR. We also offer a diverse programme of regular seminars features leading scholars in the field and informal working lunches, where we seek regular postgraduate researcher contributions.

Study options

PhD in Criminology: 3 years full-time; 5 years part-time. Thesis length 70,000-100,000 words
(Students may enrol in either the PhD in Sociology or PhD Criminology)

MRes: For students who do not already have a Masters degree in relevant research methods, the PhD programme can include initial admission to our MRes in Criminology.

If you are new to Criminology as a subject, you might also want to consider one of our taught Masters programmes in Criminology & Criminal Justice.

Contact us

Entry requirements

Entry to our PhD programme generally requires a good 2.1 in a first degree or a merit or distinction in a Masters degree. It helps to have qualifications in criminology or a closely related subject (like law, psychology, social work or sociology) but this is not essential.

There are also English Language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.

Strong references, ideally from previous academic supervisors, are also usually required.

Applicants should submit:

  • Transcripts/degree certificates 
  • Two references (at least one of which should be from an academic sources, if possible)
  • A brief research proposal
  • A curriculum vitae
  • The name of a potential supervisor or supervisors

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 7.0 with no sub-test under 6.5
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test
  • IELTS One Skill Retake accepted.

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission to this programme:

TOEFL (ibt, my best or athome)

  • 94; with Reading 19; Listening 20; Speaking 20; Writing 21
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements , this includes TOEFL mybest.

Pearsons PTE Academic

  • 66 with no subtest less than: Listening 59;Reading 60; Speaking 59; Writing 74
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Cambridge Proficiency in English (CPE) and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE)

  • 185 overall, no subtest less than 176
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Oxford English Test

  • Oxford ELLT 8
  • R&L: OIDI level no less than 7 with Reading: 25-26 and Listening: 18-19
  • W&S: OIDI level no less than 8.

Trinity College Tests

Integrated Skills in English II & III & IV: ISEII Pass with Pass in all sub-tests.

University of Glasgow Pre-sessional courses

Tests are accepted for 2 years following date of successful completion.

Alternatives to English Language qualification

  • Degree from majority-English speaking country (as defined by the UKVI including Canada if taught in English)
    • students must have studied for a minimum of 2 years at Undergraduate level, or 9 months at Master's level, and must have complete their degree in that majority-English speaking country and within the last 6 years
  • Undergraduate 2+2 degree from majority-English speaking country (as defined by the UKVI including Canada if taught in English)
    • students must have completed their final two years study in that majority-English speaking country and within the last 6 years

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept UKVI approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) but we do not require a specific UKVI SELT for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Fees and funding



  • UK: £4,786
  • International & EU: £25,290

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Irish nationals who are living in the Common Travel Area of the UK, EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status, and Internationals with Indefinite Leave to remain status can also qualify for home fee status.

Alumni discount

We offer a 20% discount to our alumni on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School with us. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Possible additional fees

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.


The College of Social Sciences Graduate School draws together internationally recognised scholars and respected practitioners to offer a range of research programmes.

Our programmes are based on thorough training in research methods and we encourage you to take part in numerous exciting seminars, conferences and events. We offer modern library, IT services and a wide-range of support services. You will be living in one of Europe’s most exciting cities which has a vibrant cultural and social life

Our Graduate School Researcher Development Programme will support you to plan your professional development over the course of your PhD and ensure your employability.

How to apply

Identify potential supervisors

All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.

You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.

Gather your documents

Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

  1. Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  2. Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  3. Two references on headed paper and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. References may be uploaded as part of the application form or you may enter your referees contact details on the application form. We will then email your referee and notify you when we receive the reference.  We can also accept confidential references direct to, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.
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