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  • 4th

    in the UK for social work and policy research

    100% of our research is judged world-leading or internationally excellent.
    Source: Research Excellence Framework 2021

  • Silver Athena SWAN award

    We’ve been recognised for our ongoing commitment to addressing gender inequality.

  • 4th

    in the UK for criminology

    Good University Guide 2024. Source: The Times


About the department

The Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology fosters pioneering research and exceptional educational experiences that lead to meaningful contributions to society. We take an interdisciplinary approach to research, with experts in sociology, social policy, criminology, and psychology working together to approach intricate societal challenges from various angles. 

We excel in collaborative research projects that address pressing societal issues and create tangible positive outcomes. We helped establish the National Centre for Research Methods with funding from national and international research organisations, including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Nuffield Trust and the Leverhulme Trust.

Our academics have prominent positions in the Web Science Institute where they contribute to its innovative cross-disciplinary research in the social understanding of the web. 

We offer a wide range of undergraduate degrees, taught master's programmes and postgraduate research opportunities. These aim to give future leaders in the fields of sociology, social policy and criminology a comprehensive understanding of social dynamics and the tools to find answers to complex questions of local and global significance.

Our research

Our researchers benefit from a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages open collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines, both within the University and at other institutions.

Research themes

We investigate a wide array of issues within sociology, social policy and criminology. Most fall within 4 main interdisciplinary research themes.

Work futures

We explore the concept and evolving nature of work in a rapidly changing world. We try to better understand its many forms, contexts, relations and divisions. 

We also explore:

  • the resistive, exploitative and reproductive functions of labour
  • the impact of technological advancements
  • environmental threats
  • socio-cultural shifts
  • policy frameworks
Digital technologies and societies

This theme of research explores: 

  • the threats that digital and emerging technologies might pose to society
  • further inequalities and injustices that might arise from technology, or from its unequal effects on different social groups
  • the increasing impacts technology has on everyday social practice and national governance
Social inequalities and interventions

In this theme of research, we use in-depth cases and comparative work to study:

  • the spread of inequalities
  • processes of marginalisation and criminalisation
  • social, cultural and environmental resilience among minority groups
  • strategies at levels of people, organisations and states
Security, safety and governance

We aim to understand pathways into and out of criminal behaviours. As part of this research we:

  • focus on inclusive and effective strategies for prevention and deterrence
  • work through an applied local, national and global approach
  • use interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives and mixed methods to promote safe and secure futures

Our research principles

Our researchers are guided by 5 principles when conducting their research.


We uphold University principles, adhere to legal, ethical and professional frameworks, and are mindful that their research harms nobody and contributes to society.


We strive to become more inclusive in terms of recruitment, grant funding opportunities and our research processes and practices.


We explore societal questions by collaborating between disciplines, departments and faculties,  within the university and beyond.  


We’ve built longstanding relationships and partnerships with other institutions, both within and outside the University. We host and participate in a range of workshops, conferences and other events.


We pursue original, cutting-edge research and partnerships with an emphasis on quality. We’re committed to developing original and innovative methods for research and analysis.

Knowledge exchange

Knowledge exchange activities involve a two-way exchange between researchers and research users, to share ideas, research evidence, experiences and skills. We regularly host events and facilitate research projects that promote knowledge exchange and close collaboration between different disciplines and institutions.

For example, a recent workshop in London for the Counter-Terrorism and Digital Human Trafficking research project convened cross-sector experts and practitioners in the field to explore how trafficked persons might be identified in terrorism.

Another recent example is an initiative led by Dr Craig Webber, our head of department, that included a knowledge exchange event involving the department, Solent University and Hampshire Constabulary. 

The event led to the design of a pilot project that aims to:

  • better understand how young people and police might communicate more effectively about risk, safety and crime
  • devise better strategies for harm reduction
  • create a collaborative network between stakeholders from the event and youth, education, social and health services

Our Director of Civic Engagement works across the University to help forge local, national and international links with external agencies in the private, public and third sectors. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We foster an environment where each individual thrives and contributes meaningfully. Our department benefits from a diverse staff and student body. We’re also a very global academic team, with people from a wide variety of countries and ethnic backgrounds. 

Many of our academics are heavily invested in equality, diversity and inclusivity through their projects. For example, Dr Bindi Shah is co-lead on the Ramniklal Solanki Pioneers Project, a project of the University’s India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development. 

The research and writing of Dr Lizzie Reed focuses on how disruptive queer methodologies of knowledge sharing can help centre the voices of marginalised and under-represented groups.

We were recently honoured with an Athena Swan Silver Award, which highlights our dedication to gender equality and our comprehensive plan to strengthen our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Athena SWAN Silver Award logo
The Athena SWAN Silver Award recognises our commitment to gender equality.

Be part of the next generation of social scientists by conducting original research in social studies or criminology and completing one of our PhDs or research degrees.

Southampton’s collaboration with southern England universities offers funded research degrees and training in research methods and skills. Find out about the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership.

Research and impact

Learn more about our research areas and how we enable students to use their knowledge and skills to address global challenges.

Our research community

Find out about the research centres and institutes we’re involved with, including details of publications and research projects.


We encourage interdisciplinary and curiosity-led research projects, which form the content for our educational programmes and help address pressing societal questions.
Head of Department
I teach research methods using real world examples and experience gained during 10 years working in policy research for government and the non profit sector.
Associate Professor
I combine social and computer science methodologies to research the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence technologies, including those deployed by justice systems.
My research focuses on the consequences of security, counter-crime measures, counter-terrorism strategies and surveillance. I’ve a particular interest in the tacit knowledges organisations and individuals employ in the face of security measures.
Lecturer of Criminology

Work with us

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    Work with us

    Check here to see if there are any current job vacancies at the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology.

Contact us

Talk to us, we're happy to help

You can contact us by:
Building 58, University of SouthamptonSouthampton SO17 1BJ
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm UK time

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