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On the front line of Criminology at the University of Kent

Based within a well established department spanning several key areas, including social research, sociology, child protection, autism research and social policy, Criminology at Kent, hosts some of the world’s leading academics, whose specialist knowledge is widely recognised.


 “We offer quite a distinct Criminology master’s, which covers the specific area of Cultural Criminology” explains Dr Balihar Sanghera, Director of Graduate Studies, “We have some of the leading researchers in this niche area in the department. Our other areas of expertise cover drugs and crime and many of our graduates go on to work in the legal justice system.”


Katinka van de Ven is a PhD candidate on the Erasmus Mundus Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology (DCGC) programme at Kent and is focusing her research on the way performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) networks form and develop throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.


“I’d always been into sports and worked out a lot at the gym with my brother, who one day was offered these drugs and I was surprised, as I had only known about doping in relation to professional sports, so I became interested from then. There is a lot of research on consumption and use, but not so much on supply, so I’m focusing on the issue of trafficking as there is very little research on this key aspect of the culture and problem. In Belgium there is a zero tolerance policy and you can face a fine of 2000 Euros and be banned from all the gyms in the country, if caught using. Whereas in the Netherlands like everything, we’re free to use and do as we want.”


“I chose Kent because it is very highly rated for Criminology and the prestige of the DCGC programme. The biggest challenge for me so far, has been fitting everything in: I did a lot of qualitative research, interviewing people, writing, going to bodybuilding competitions; now my data gathering is finished, I spend about 3 full days a week working on the thesis in addition to teaching and other commitments relating to my funding.”


Is postgraduate education is worth the money it increasingly demands?


Dr Sanghera explains that despite the rise in tuition fees for undergraduate courses and many masters’ programmes, Kent’s prices have remained low. “I do believe that a master’s is value for money, undergraduate fees are now very high, but our MA courses remain at just over £5,000. Students gain a competitive advantage over the thousands of students who now have a 2:1 degree.”




All programmes are designed to give students generic skills that enable them to compete in a a competitive, knowledge-based economy; skills such as planning, time management, team work, entrepreneurialism, leadership, IT and commercial awareness. Our graduates work in a range of roles across both the private and public sector including public policy, social policy and welfare, central and local government, journalism and media, crime and justice agencies, education and charities amongst other areas.


Owen Davis is as an MA student studying Methods of Social Research, something he needed to do before pursuing his PhD, during which he hopes to look at health inequalities across Europe and the rise of food bank use. He was referred to the MA course by his supervisor, in order to gain the knowledge and skills of research methods needed before beginning his PhD.


“Some of my colleagues were doing the course in preparation for market research roles, I had done a master’s, but it didn’t have enough substantive methodology in it. I’ve actually found this MA really helpful because it teaches you how to look at research in a critical and informed way, which is really important. I really enjoyed the course and haven’t had any problems with it. The dissertation has been quite challenging and there was module ‘developing critical skills’, which although I really enjoyed I found hard, as you had to approach research in a way I hadn’t done before. Throughout I have had the support of my lecturers and the postgraduate office which has been great.”


Life in the department


The department is rated as one of the top four for research in the UK. “With more than 14 master’s available and a large staff body, students can move around and experience the various expertise of multiple staff, resulting in a vibrant and diverse experience”, says Dr Sanghera. He also cites the flow of guest speakers in the department as a highlight for students, as these speakers usually encourage formal interaction and discussion, as well as informal discussion at the subsidised meal afterwards and often, he adds, in the pub as well!


One of his favourite aspects of working in the department is the environment that allows staff to develop and thrive: “As a member of staff you are constantly learning, people take an interest in your work and challenge you.”



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