Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Social Policy & Criminology

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Social Policy & Criminology

Social Policy & Criminology inset image

We address cutting-edge, and often controversial, criminological and social issues, as well as social policy concerns, both through our teaching and research. The qualifications we’ve developed enable students to learn and think about many familiar (and some less familiar) social problems in new and exciting ways.

Our qualifications take a critical approach to the concepts of social justice and crime, exploring issues of social inequalities, who defines crime and how, and whether criminal justice systems serve to protect the interests of certain groups over others. Students will engage with many real-life case studies that help to unpack a range of theories and concepts related to society, governance, crime and social harm. We also consider the potential role of social policy in reducing harm and social inequalities.

Our academics

Our academics are a diverse team with interests covering a number of broad themes. These are:

  • social policy and social justice
  • migrations, diasporas, transnational communities
  • crime, harm, criminalisation and criminal justice
  • regulation, governance, policy process
  • genders, sexualities, relationships and intimacies.

The work we do is often topical; for example, members of our team conducted the research for The Open University film Grenfell Tower and Social Murder, which won the British Documentary Film Festival’s Life Changing Award 2018, and the OU/BBC co-production The Fires that Foretold Grenfell, which won the Learning on Screen Awards 2019 Broadcast Award.

Our research

We have an active research culture and a strong commitment to innovative, high-quality, socially relevant research, public engagement and activism. Our key research themes include policing, harm and violence, social and personal relationships, gender and sexualities, social inequalities, and social development. Our academics have a strong track record in publishing high-quality monographs, edited collections, journal articles and research reports.

How we work with others

We play a key part in a number of Open University research groups, such as the Harm & Evidence Research Collaboration and Citizenship & Governance. We also bring our expertise to national and international organisations, advising bodies such as Inquest, the Youth Violence Commission and Front Line Defenders.

Find out more

Banner image: Cliff Donaldson / Getty Images; Inset image: K McDevitt / Getty Images

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