Security and Crime Science MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The department of security and crime science is widely recognised for the impact that its research has had on real-world crime problems. Consequently we have long established links with police forces, policy makers, academic research centres of excellence and security organisations from both the UK and further afield.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

Evidence of graduate research experience, for example a Master's degree, and a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

Applicants must also consider whether the Department of Security and Crime Science has the relevant expertise available to offer sufficient supervision in their chosen area of research.

You will be expected to identify two UCL academics to supervise your research before applying. Ideally you will have contacted them before applying to ensure they are able to support your application.

Following consideration of applications at the department's Graduate Research Committee, students may be requested to attend an interview with prospective supervisors (either in person or by telephone).

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The department of security and crime sciences is organised into five centres of excellence:

  • Geographical Analysis
  • The Designing Out Crime Group
  • The Crime Policy and Evaluation Group
  • Terrorism and Organised Crime
  • Forensic Science

Staff and students work within and across these groups and across UCL and the wider research community, including active international collaborations.

Who this course is for

If you meet the entry requirements, you are requested to identify at least two UCL academics with the expertise needed to assess your technical skills and act as your supervisors. We suggest that you look at the Security and Crime Science department website to gain a broad idea of where your research ideas fit in with the interests and areas of expertise of current academics.

What this course will give you

The UCL Department of Security and Crime Science is devoted specifically to reducing crime through teaching, research, public policy analysis and by the dissemination of evidence-based information on crime reduction. Our mission is to change crime policy and practice.

Security and Crime Science is a multi-disciplinary subject, drawing on expertise in psychology, social science, statistics, mathematics, architecture, forensic sciences, design, geography and computing. This is reflected in our PhD students, who come from a variety of backgrounds, making the department an interesting and stimulating environment in which to study.

The foundation of your career

UCL Security & Crime Science was one of a handful of departments nationwide to receive a rating of 100% for research impact in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). We are the leading trainer of crime analysts in the UK, having trained over 1,000 police and security analysts in the past ten years. Our students are often practitioners themselves, some holding senior positions. Our programmes are recognised by employers when considering career progression. The fact that our programmes have been endorsed by key advisory organisations (such as the Metropolitan Police Academy) and the fact that they are oriented towards practical approaches to tackling crime mean that they are recognised by recruiters.


Graduates from our research programmes go on to research careers and to lecturing posts in academic institutions. Others have taken up policy-related positions in the public and private security sectors.


UCL SCS is widely recognized for its knowledge transfer activities, and the impact that its research has had on real-world crime problems. Consequently we have long-established links with police forces, policy makers at all levels, academic research centres of excellence and security organisations from  both the UK and further afield.

Teaching and learning

Research areas and structure

The department has five main research groups:

  • Counter-terrorism: situational prevention of terrorism; technology for counter-terrorism; transferable training between crime and terrorism
  • Crime mapping: innovation in crime mapping methods; prospective crime mapping
  • Crime policy analysis and evaluation: evaluation of crime prevention schemes; knowledge transfer
  • Designing out crime: role of design in crime prevention; environmental design; crime risk and administrative procedure design
  • Forensic sciences: forensic science reconstruction; interpretation of evidence; trace evidence dynamics (including DNA, residues/particulates, environmental evidence etc.).

UCL Security & Crime Science (SCS) hosts the £17million UCL Security Science Doctoral Research Training Centre (UCL SECReT), an international centre for PhD training in security and crime science. We offer an integrated PhD programme for students wishing to pursue multi-disciplinary security or crime-related research degrees. We expect their research to be interdisciplinary and to involve some 'hard science' element.

Our research is underpinned by a methodology combining science and engineering expertise (S&T) with expertise from wider disciplines including the social sciences. We see four research 'domains' which can interact:

  • Science and technology innovation: to create the next generation of security technologies
  • People factors: understanding and incorporating human factors (via behavioural science, decision-making techniques, etc.) into the development of security solutions
  • Process factors: enhancing security processes by increasing our understanding of the operational processes of activities, organisations or infrastructures under threat
  • Policy: contributing to the development of government policy through research findings.

Research environment

The Department of Security and Crime Science is widely recognised for the impact that its research has had on real-world crime problems. The department has a distinctly interdisciplinary outlook on the prevention of crime, terrorism and organised crime. Consequently we have long established links with police forces, policy makers, academic research centres of excellence and security organisations from both the UK and further afield. The department has a successful track record of working closely with practitioners and is widely recognized for its knowledge transfer and exploitation activities, as well as the impact of its research on real world crime problems. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, the Department’s impact activity was rated as 100% world leading, a score attained by only 0.02% of all assessed departments nationwide (n=7550). As a Security and Crime Science PhD student, you will have the opportunity to learn from, and contribute to, this research culture.

The Department attracts the leading figures in the field to our extensive programme of events which inform debates around crime prevention. Regular events include the annual International Crime Science conference, regular seminars and outside speakers. These events reflect the diversity of disciplinary inputs that inform Crime Science.

A PhD at Security and Crime Science allows you to pursue original research and make a distinct and significant contribution to your field. We are committed to the quality and relevance of the research supervision we offer and as an MPhil/PhD candidate; you could work with academics at the cutting edge of crime prevention scholarship. Furthermore as a research student, you will be an integral part of our collaborative and thriving research community. To foster your academic development we also offer additional departmental funds, which can assist you with the costs of conferences and other research activities.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 3 years for full-time and 5 years for part-time. 

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration.

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may register as a completing research student (CRS) while you write up your thesis.  

To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a piece of writing demonstrating sufficient theoretical, conceptual, and methodological development as well as a clearly articulated plan to finish the thesis. You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

The PhD programme is expected to be completed within three years for full-time students, and over five years for part-time students. If you are not ready to submit at the end of the third year, you may be able to go onto CRS.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online and On campus at Roberts Building G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre - Open day

UCL's Security Science Doctoral Research Training Centre (SECReT) PhD Open Evening

Join us for UCL's Security Science Doctoral Research Training Centre (SECReT) hybrid open evening where you can find out more about our PhDs. At the open evening, you will hear from the programme leads and current students. We will explain the aim and content of the programme and also discuss the scholarships we currently have available. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £5,860 £2,930
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

No additional costs.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Value: Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page and ensure you visit our website.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

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