Entry requirements

Good honours degree in law or a related discipline from the humanities or social sciences.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first or second year. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Birkbeck has a rich tradition of rigorous, socially engaged research into critical criminology and criminal justice scholarship and is a hub for this research. We are home to the renowned Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, a world-leading, influential research centre that undertakes a wide range of work on justice, including the production of the World Prison Brief.

MPhil/PhD Criminology students benefit from the supervision of internationally renowned experts and secondary supervisors, and programmes in criminology theory and research. Our academic staff understand crime through research on power and inequality, and are led by principles of social and racial justice. We focus on contemporary social and policy problems, from prison abolition, migration and deportation, and social welfare, to gendered violence, terrorism and drugs.

Our work covers a range of themes, from punishment, policing, security and surveillance to organised, corporate and state crime. We contribute to contemporary debates using different theoretical approaches including political economy, psychosocial, feminist, critical race and queer theory.

For further information about staff expertise and areas of supervision, please see our academic staff profiles. You may contact academic staff direct for support with an application to the MPhil/PhD programme, prior to formal submission.


  • Our research community has grown rapidly in recent years. This reflects our growing reputation as a training ground for early-career academics working from critical and theoretical perspectives.
  • Our students have achieved awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), British Academy, Overseas Research Students Awards, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and internal Birkbeck studentships.
  • We offer financial assistance for conference attendance where appropriate, a comprehensive programme of independent monitoring of each student's yearly progress and postgraduate student representation on our board.
  • Additional training is available through seminars and workshops, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and the AHRC and Interdisciplinary Research Training Network.
  • There is a bustling social and extra-curricular calendar for students including the esteemed Annual Criminology Lecture, Law on Trial events week, Criminology Research Seminars, Criminology Careers Events and a summer party.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework with 83% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Fees and funding

PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

We offer a range of studentships and funding options to support your research.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil/PhD
    part time
    84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
+44 (0)20 3907 0700