Sociology and Social Policy MPhil/PhD

Major code: SCMR/SCPR

About us

Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology

In 2010 The University of Liverpool was jointly awarded the prestigious status of ESRC Doctoral Training College in partnership with the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster.

This means we’re now part of the largest centre in England for social science postgraduate training.

Our work in challenging social inequalities in Liverpool and beyond goes back over 100 years and continues today, in a fascinating city well-known for its spirit of humanity and human struggle.

Forward-looking and innovative, we can offer you many attractions including:-

  • access to  Methods NorthWest , a cross-institutional initiative that promotes methodological innovation, excellence and an interdisciplinary approach
  • prestigious events such as the Eleanor Rathbone Lecture Series and the engage@liverpool 'how to' talk series where lectures and lively debates focus on innovative research methods and practice.
  • opportunities  to experience and conduct  ‘real life’ research with  voluntary groups and organisations across Merseyside through Interchange, our registered charity
  • the option to study our MA Research Methodology full- or part-time
  • unique, flexible opportunities for in-house Research and Development Departments to upgrade their employees’ research skills through part-time study

We’re located in the Eleanor Rathbone Building, named after the Liverpool born social reformer, advocate for women’s issues and Member Of Parliament, who was instrumental in the introduction of Family Allowances.

Staff research interests


Peter's research to date has focused upon cultural policy, and on attempts to align culture and creativity with processes of urban and economic regeneration. Prior to doctoral research studying the political discourse around 'creative industries', and their role in the local urban environment, he worked within the longitudinal 'Impacts 08' research centre based within the Department which provided analysis of the social, cultural, economic and environmental effects which Liverpool’s hosting of the 'European Capital of Culture' programme in 2008 had upon the city.

He is currently an associate of the Institute of Cultural Capital, and in addition to this particular interest in the role of culture, his research interests lie in general in the wider field of urban sociology, the built environment, social ordering, regulation and process of urban regeneration.


Roy’s research interests centre around social order, crime, space and the city. Specifically his work has focused on the role of surveillance in relation to other modes of socio-spatial regulation. He is also interested in state theory, socio-spatial inequalities, urban ‘regeneration’ and the broader issue of social control. Roy has written several journal articles and book chapters around these themes and ideas.


Originally a sociologist interested in studies of the city and urban communities my work has focused, although not exclusively, around communities in excluded neighbourhoods and their responses to marginalisation and deprivation. From the early 1990s my focus on the urban experience took me into research which was more criminological in nature as the fear of crime and victimisation was articulated by many research participants. I have researched and published in the following areas: urban transformations, community and cyberspace, crime and community safety, community participation and experiences of victimisation. In recent years I have moved into teaching, writing and researching on some aspects of gender and crime having co-edited a Reader for Open University Press on this subject and most recently worked with a team from the Crime Reduction & Community Safety Research Group based at London South Bank University on an evaluation of conditional cautions for low-level women offenders for the Ministry of Justice.


Diane has research interests in constructions of ethnic/racial identity in the context of Britain and West Africa; Black migration to Britain since the nineteenth century, with a special interest in the Kru community in Liverpool and Freetown; and diamonds in Sierra Leone. Diane also has interests in migration and asylum, and articulations of different forms of racism, including Islamophobia.  She has published a number of books and articles.


Barry has twenty years of experience in researching comparative criminology, particularly international crime history; desistence studies; and longitudinal studies of offending. He has published a number of books, most recently Godfrey, Cox, and Farrall (2010) Serious Offenders: A Historical Study of Habitual Offenders 1850-1950, Clarendon Series in Criminology, Oxford University Press Godfrey, Lawrence, and Williams (2007) History and Crime, SAGE; Godfrey, Cox, and Farrall (2007) Criminal Lives: Family, Employment and Offending, Clarendon Series in Criminology, Oxford University Press. Barry is series editor for The Criminal History of Britain, a four volume set published by Praeger Press; and also the series editor for A Criminal History of the United Kingdom, a six volume set published by Routledge. Previous publications include three edited volumes and a co-authored student textbook. Barry has supervised a number of PhD researchers working on sentencing, desistence, long-term trends in criminal justice, and criminal justice history. He is currently contracted to publish a further five books in the next decade.


Barry’s principal research interests include: sociological criminology; socio-legal studies; penology; criminal justice; social/public policy; human rights and the sociology of childhood and youth. He is perhaps best known for his work in the related fields of youth criminology/justice and critical policy analysis within which he has earned significant national and international visibility. In addition to his substantive post at Liverpool, Barry is Visiting Professorial Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and the UK representative on the Panel of European Youth Researchers - an expert group established by the Council of Europe and the European Commission to advise on pan-European youth policy.

Professor Goldson is an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner and he welcomes contact from prospective MPhil/PhD students in any of the above or related areas.


Lynn is interested in urbancriminology, with particular reference to urban change and crime, community responses to crime and disorder, policing and local political structures.  She also has a specific interest in the politics of community safety; social exclusion, spatial exclusion, urban regeneration, crime, criminalisation and social control, whilst also having published  work on public responses to criminal justice, with particular reference to confidence, understanding and perceptions of the criminal justice system.


Louise came into academia through the route of social work, having practiced in both the voluntary and statutory sectors. Her research interests fall into three broad areas: the third sector, community collaboration, and welfare policy. She is currently exploring the development of discourses which have claimed to place the voluntary sector and volunteering at the ‘heart’ of social policy delivery against the backdrop of radical welfare reforms, the restructuring of state provision, and systematic withdrawal of funding. Louise is also interested in teaching that encourages the ‘scholarship of engagement’ through community-based learning, as exemplified by charity Interchange (see online Through her experience with Interchange she is interested in where this type of pedagogy is situated in Higher Education policy, as well as the potential benefits for both students and community partners. Underpinning all Louise’s research is an interest in the policies directing the changing welfare mix and the impact of these on the voluntary and state sector, workers and professionals, and - most importantly - the recipients of welfare provision. 


Paul’s research falls within the field of urban sociology and has a particular focus on questions of culture, political-economy and collective identities. He is currently addressing these themes in relation to the tensions associated with urban regeneration, with ongoing work engaging with the symbolic and material reconstruction of Liverpool. Paul has also been at the forefront of the development of a ‘sociology of architecture’, which has involved a critical approach to the relationship between architects, their landmark buildings, and the political and economic projects within which they are mobilized. Paul is happy to supervise research students working in the general area of urban sociology, and in particular those whose projects have a focus on: i) the relationship between culture and political-economy in urban regeneration; and/or ii) on architecture, power, and capitalism.


Michael Mair (PhD, Sociology, University of Manchester) is a Lecturer in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool. Michael, who has a background in philosophy and politics as well as sociology, has undertaken research on a variety of topics. Michael’s primary research interests lie in the state and governmental practice, particularly their changing contemporary forms. In the course of empirical research which has been largely sociological, ethnographic and practice-oriented in character, Michael has investigated the situated elaboration of new ways of governing ‘antisocial behaviour’, health and housing. Michael is currently involved in looking further at how policy is practiced in and realised through new bureaucratic and administrative structures. Michael also has a general interest in the methodology and the philosophy of the natural and social sciences, as reflected in published work on both quantitative and qualitative methods and empirical research into the investigative practices of social scientists. In all Michael’s work, particular emphasis is placed on the idea that the social production (and distribution) of knowledge within particular settings is a public activity that can and ought to be studied in its details. This dovetails with an interest in both workplace and science and technology studies and what they can bring to existing debates within the social and political sciences.

Research interests

  • Politics, government, social policy and the state
  • Ethnography/ethnomethodology
  • Workplaces, technologies and scientific action 
  • Language, experience, practice and knowledge
  • Methodology, sociology and philosophy of the natural and social sciences


Ross’ research specialises in radical, critical and cultural victimology and critical criminology, specifically focussing on the British armed forces involvement in conflict (particularly Afghanistan and Iraq), and the conceptualisation of the ‘soldier as victim’. His PhD explored the experiences of British veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq in terms of harm and victimisation through the use of auto/biographical research and victimology. Ross is embarking on research to explore the repatriations of British service personnel through Royal Wootton Bassett and is currently in the process of leading and co-authoring several journal articles on resilience. He is a student fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, a former member of the British armed forces and has previously worked as a member of civilian police staff.


Over the last decade Gabe has been researching the impacts of risk on everyday life across a range of domains, including personal and collective security, crime, politics, welfare, work, the environment and food safety. His research has focused on the multiple dimensions of what we recognize and understand as ‘risk’. This broad focus includes analysing the ways in which risk is socially constructed and symbolically represented in the media, exploring how risks are perceived by different cultural groups, examining the ways in which risks are politically managed and critiquing the modes of regulation deployed by government and criminal justice agencies seeking to control risks. His recent published work locks on to the issue of human security and the nature of ‘fear of crime’, specifically in relation to criminal victimisation. Gabe has also been involved in criminological research oriented toward the problem of terrorism. This aspect of his research takes many forms, including assessing the extent of the terrorist risk, tracing the discursive construction of ‘new terrorism’ and evaluating the consequences of anti-terrorism legislation for British Muslims living in the UK. Gabe is an experienced PhD supervisor and would welcome applications from candidates undertaking doctoral research in any of the following areas: human security; terrorism and ideology; risk and the media; counter-terrorism legislation; crime, risk and fear; risk and the environment; social theory; the sociology of risk; policing and surveillance of Muslim Minority groups and identity, ethnicity and risk.


Susan’s main interests lie in health, illness and ageing and her research falls into one of several categories: (i) a critical examination of social policies and professional practices especially with regard to chronic illness and older people; (ii) a lived body perspective drawing on ethnographies with older people or people suffering from multiple chronic illness; (iii) a historical/genealogical angle which asks: how did we come to see illness/aging in the way we do today? How did social policy come to frame things in the way it does today? Is it possible that in different discursive regimes people experienced their bodies in ways currently unimaginable ?; (iv) a focus on knowledge, contrasting professional knowledge with lay knowledge of bodies and care-giving. In what ways do they contrast/coincide? How can they work together most fruitfully?


Jude is a social anthropologist researching in the field of critical public health. Her research centres on developing understandings of the opportunities and barriers experienced by people living in poverty and disadvantage, and has a particular interest in (feminist) research methodologies, gendered inequalities, issues around social justice, alternative moralities and ‘othering’ and the health of women and children living in the UK. Recent research includes collaborative projects exploring smoking and second-hand smoke with parents of young children in different settings; exploring health and health care for people with visual impairment; and exploring the links between reading aloud, mental health and wellbeing. Current projects include a project researching reading and health with women in prison and working with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and HM Forces to explore smoking in the Army.

Her research involves working closely with commissioners, managers and practitioners of health and social care in both the voluntary and statutory sector. Academic collaborations include working with colleagues from other disciplines and institutions both in the UK and internationally.


Liz Turner recently completed her PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, focussing on the public role of criminological knowledge within democratic society. Before coming to work at the University of Liverpool, Liz worked as a Project Officer for a Local Criminal Justice Board, working on a range of applied research-related projects in a multi-agency setting. Prior to this she worked as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate at Newcastle University, managing the execution of a three year programme of ESRC-funded research focussed on public confidence in the criminal justice system. Liz has expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods and is interested in pursuing further research across a range of criminal justice-related topics including:


Nicole’s research and teaching interests lie within the areas of AIDS culture, the sociology of gender and culture, sexuality and queer theory, material culture, technology and practices of embodiment, addiction research and theory. Her research to date takes as it’s starting point the objects of HIV/AIDS prevention and education and crucially scrutinizes the theoretical and policy implications of Needle Exchange and Safe Sex. The material focus of her analysis takes many forms including an assessment of; social and health policy and its impact; health prevention technologies; contemporary social theory; social practice; as well as social science methods and methodologies. In her recent published work Nicole addresses the specific impact of the object of the syringe and its effects on the lives of drug users, the wider public, and sociology itself. In so doing she examines questions of addiction, risk, suffering, compassion, harm, morality, sensation, space and affect from the standpoint of the syringe. Her focus is not simply to scrutinise the effects of public health policies, but to enact a new research method which responds differently to social problems. Nicole would welcome applications from candidates undertaking doctoral research in the areas of the addiction, sexuality, the body, gender, consumption, technology, the media, health and illness.


Sandra has had a long-term interest in crime especially the impact of crime on its victims. In the past she has worked extensively with victim support schemes both in a research and volunteer context, has worked with burglary victims in Poland and Hungary, headed up a longitudinal study on the fear of crime in Salford and has worked with the probation service in the context of their service delivery to victims. Her most recent work has been more theoretical and has focused on risk and fear in the context of terrorist activity. She also retains an active interest in gendered relations in the criminal justice system.


David’s main research interests are in crimes of the powerful, the regulation of global markets, and state and corporate power.  His specific interests include: the regulation of deaths and injuries at work; the private military industry; the role of corporations in conflict and post-conflict situations; changing forms of regulation under conditions of globalisation.  He has also conducted and managed research projects on a range of criminal justice policy issues, including: peoples’ experience of appearing in court; police racism post-MacPherson; community safety and crime prevention partnerships; the inclusion of white-collar crime in local criminal justice agendas; and the role of law in controlling corporate human rights violations.

David’s most recently completed studies include an assessment of the criminalisation of deaths and injuries at work in the UK, and a study of the role of corporations in the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.  His previous and current PhD students’ research topics include: community cohesion and ‘riots’ in Northern England; corporate manslaughter; UK complicity in the Rwandan genocide; and the control of corporate human rights violations.

Sarah Greenhow

Studying at Liverpool has allowed me to frequently interact with colleagues who are leaders in this field and gain widely recognised postgraduate qualifications to take forward into my future career. The diversity of the city opens up a field for research and engagement across a variety of disciplines. The University of Liverpool is a fantastic place to study. 

Studying at Liverpool has allowed me to frequently interact with colleagues who are leaders in this field and gain widely recognised postgraduate qualifications to take forward into my future career. The diversity of the city opens up a field for research and engagement across a variety of disciplines. The University of Liverpool is a fantastic place to study.