Research course


University of Cambridge · Institute of Criminology

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Masters (Distinction).

If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.

New admissions: A Master's degree, with a distinction or close to distinction or equivalent, preferably in a social science discipline although applicants from other disciplines will also be considered.

Continuing applicants: are advised to complete the MPhil in Criminological Research. Continuation from the MPhil course is subject to a MPhil student achieving at least 74 overall.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

The PhD in Criminology is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination (viva voce). The primary purpose of the PhD is the preparation and presentation of a substantial piece of independent and original academic research. Completion usually requires three to four years of full-time study, and five years if studying part-time, which includes a probationary period.

Full time students are required to be resident in Cambridge during their studies.

Part-time students have no residence requirements, but are required to attend the University on a regular basis as prescribed by their Degree Committee. In general, we expect part-time research students to be in Cambridge for around 45 days per year, spread throughout the year.

The Institute of Criminology has a worldwide reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. PhD candidates benefit from close links with the Institute's six dedicated research centres, providing them with unrivalled opportunities and the support to develop as independent researchers, while being part of an integrated community of criminologists working at different levels and through multidisciplinary approaches.

Every PhD student in the Institute of Criminology is supported by a supervisor. Supervisors are experts in their field of study and support students throughout the PhD. PhD candidates will also benefit from the advice and support of other academic members of staff who will be involved in progression through the various stages of the PhD; from the registration assessment exercise at the end of the first year through to the completion of the thesis. All students are allocated a thesis adviser once they start their PhD; this is a decision that is made jointly by the supervisor and each student.

As well as specialist supervision, the Institute provides a comprehensive training, support and development programme for its PhD students. Frequent seminars are designed to develop research skills, technique and thinking. The School of Arts and Humanities organises a Researcher Development Programme covering a range of topics from PhD skills training, to language training, and writing and editing skills.

The Institute welcomes applications from suitably qualified applicants of all nationalities. Proposals for doctoral research on any criminological topic will be considered. Applicants might wish to contact potential supervisors before submitting a formal application, and are advised to consult supervisor profiles for details on their research interests. Prospective students are advised to reflect carefully on which staff member best matches their academic interests.

Information for international students

Language Requirement

IELTS (Academic)

Element Score

Listening 7.0

Writing 7.0

Reading 7.0

Speaking 7.0

Total 7.5

TOEFL Internet Score

Element Score

Listening 25

Writing 25

Reading 25

Speaking 25

Total 110


Score: Grade A & B (overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185 plus a Language Centre assessment)


Score: Grade A, B, or C (with at least 200 with no element lower than 185).

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    48-84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details