We are very proud of our alumni, who have gone on to many diverse and important career roles in organisations that cover cybercrime, forensics, counter-terrorism and security technology
- Dr Helen Brayley-Morris (MRes + PhD Security Science 2013)
My background: I grew up in Birmingham and went to Bath University where I graduated with a 1st (Hons) MEng in Electronic Engineering and Psychology. I had a range of jobs including as a maths teacher through the TeachFirst programme and I lived in both Canada and Brazil.
Why I chose to study here: It was the first year that the programme had run and I was keen on getting back into academia via the MRes degree ahead of embarking on the PhD programme. I was attracted to this particular area due to the wide range of real world problems that we could work on, the high quality and strong reputation of the staff within the department and a real push to broaden your understanding with a multidisciplinary approach.
The best bits of my degree: Getting to work with a wide range of students and academics from different backgrounds - it really helped me develop my problem solving skills and ability to view things from different perspectives. The funding was incredibly helpful in enabling me to attend conferences and focus on my research rather than having to work at the same time. The topics covered in the teaching aspects were interesting with core skills embedded. It has had a lasting impact on how I communicate with different audiences, how I approach problems and always asking 'why' and 'so what' before starting a new project.
What I do now: I work in Counter Terrorism at the UK Home Office.
How did my degree help me to get my job: It didn't directly (there was no requirement for a PhD) but the skills I learnt during my PhD helped me progress to the point of getting this job.
- Dr Selina Kolokytha (MRes + PhD Security Science 2015)
My background: I am British-Greek with a BSc in Physics with Honours and an MSc in Radiation Physics.
Why I chose to study here: I was intrigued and interested by the multidisciplinarity of the programme and the important, while complex, applications to the real world.
The best bits: The multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and colleagues, it was very interesting working with students from all backgrounds to better understand and improve global security. It gave me a grand understanding of the complexity and importance of this field.
What I do now: Physicist Engineer working in Radiation Imaging for Security (for an international company, based in France).
How did my degree help me to get my job: My PhD focus led to my current career development.
- Jonathan Camilleri (MSc Countering Organised Crime & Terrorism 2018)
My background: I was born and raised in Malta, a tiny island-nation in the Mediterranean Sea, and like most of my compatriots I was brought up speaking Maltese and English. Before studying at UCL, I completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy at the University of Malta, where I was particularly interested in the way we humans interpret or understand our own existence within the reality we occupy. For my undergraduate dissertation I wrote about human information processing and interpretation in relation to conditions of uncertainty, using the field of intelligence as an example.
Why I chose to study here: I had been captivated with crime from quite a young age, and was probably influenced by the media’s acute attention to crime and terrorism. My interest in the field, however, peaked significantly while reading up for my undergraduate dissertation, as did a wish to apply critical-thinking and problem-solving skills developed in my BA to a real-world problem of my choosing. Out of several criminology or terrorism-related postgraduate courses around the globe, I ultimately chose this programme because I found the promise of evidence-driven tools to analyse and do something about organised crime and terrorism appealing.
The best bits: There’s a lot to love about this programme: the excellent and dedicated research and teaching staff, UCL’s iconic location, and the continuous opportunities to develop yourself personally and professionally. What made all the difference to me, however, was the invaluable advice and support offered by staff-members and colleagues, and some strong friendships which began and grew over the year. I also fondly recall the hands-on session of intelligence gathering in the context of heavy London snow, and vividly remember the bitter-sweet satisfaction of pressing ‘submit’ after months of hard work on my dissertation.
The challenges: Coming from a more abstract field (philosophy), it took a bit of mental rewiring to get accustomed to an approach which favours ‘how’ over ‘why’. From the get-go, however, I was happy to see my assumptions on crime and terrorism being put to the test. It’s what I had signed up for. While there is a core knowledge-base you are expected to cultivate over time, the course is really as challenging as you want it to be. The material is curated by academics and made available to students, and it is up to them to either scratch the surface of the field or to explore it further. As with any investment, you really get what you put into it.
What I do now: I currently occupy a research-based role in government, while occasionally lecturing at the University of Malta and other institutions.
How did my degree help me to get my job: This programme opened a number of doors for me on a personal and professional level. In particular ‘Foundations of Security and Crime Science’ gave me several analytical constructs with which to understand crime-data, while DDR thought me to distinguish between different sources of information and manage them efficiently. The dissertation process allowed me to practice and develop these skills, with significant help from the academic guidance which went alongside it.
- Georgia Cairns (MSc Crime and Forensic Science 2018)
My background: I'm from Calgary, Alberta, and my undergraduate degree is in Biology.
Why I chose to study here: I have always had a passion for the sciences but was drawn to forensics especially because of the variety of interesting and diverse research that was taking place in the field. It was this opportunity, to discover and employ novel approaches in solving crime that excited me. There is a lack of multi-disciplinary programs in forensic science in Canada, and no postgraduate degree offerings. In looking elsewhere for master’s opportunities, the UCL courses appealed to me as I would graduate well-rounded in all aspects of the crime and forensic process, and it would provide me with the skills for a flexible career path. I had read about some of the exciting new research and unique technologies arising from their Department of Security and Crime Science and wanted to be a part of these efforts to aid forensic science interpretation.
The best bits: One of my favourite components of the crime and forensic science programme at UCL was the variety of guest speakers that came in to speak at the weekly forensic science seminars. It was interesting to hear first-hand from those practicing in fields relating to forensics and security. From intelligence officers, to fingerprint experts, to a DNA expert looking at tiger poaching in Sumatra, all the speakers had unique stories and presented different career pathways involving forensic research. As well as this opportunity to meet highly acclaimed professionals, I also enjoyed the diversity of course offerings as it provided the ability to tailor the degree to my interests. I could spend the mornings in the anatomy lab learning about forensic osteology and then in the afternoon could investigate crime scene techniques or study blood spatter analysis. This opportunity to choose from a wide range of courses meant I was always highly engaged in class and it was the first time that I enjoyed all my coursework!
The challenges: I found the most challenging aspect of the programme was coming up with a viable dissertation project. The coursework, while still challenging and engaging, was more straightforward as it provided firm direction. When it came to choosing and outlining a dissertation project I found I had so many forensic interests that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one subject! However, with guidance from the department's academics and some creativity, I ended up constructing an interesting project in an area that benefitted from further research. Similarly, I found the research module to be quite difficult, as approaching a unique research question often involves a number of both expected and unexpected variables. However, the coursework exposes you to a large amount of research techniques and as the year progressed I began to better grasp the experimental approach. Overall UCL honed my experimental skills and made me a more adept researcher - a valuable and integral skill for a forensic scientist (as well as for many other career paths).
What I do now: I am currently a JD candidate at the University of Calgary law school where I am about to begin my second year of study.
How did my degree help me to get my job: The Crime and Forensic Science Master’s at UCL has been incredibly valuable in helping me gain admittance to law school and in opening up career options. The modules Law and Expert Evidence and Understanding and Interpreting Forensic Evidence were especially beneficial as they steered my career toward criminal law and provided me with the foundations for further study. Law and Expert Evidence was one of my favourite courses; it explained how lawyers and the courts assess expert evidence, the legal responsibilities of experts, and legal issues surrounding forensic evidence. It emphasized that a common criticism of criminal lawyers is that they often don’t understand the science behind the forensic evidence used in court. That’s why, after graduating from law school, I plan to complete my articling with a criminal law firm and in this way, apply my world-class education in forensics to the Canadian courtroom. My main objective as a criminal lawyer will be to specialize and consult on cases that rely on forensic evidence in their conviction, and aim to ensure reliable, reproducible science is being used in trial. I plan to establish myself as a leader and expert in integrating forensics and law, and to help decrease the incidences of wrongful convictions that result from unreliable or misunderstood forensic evidence.
- Michèle Grace Bal (MSc Crime Science 2016)
My background: An Italian national, I come from Aosta Valley, a bilingual region near France and Switzerland, and thus I grew up speaking Italian and French. Before studying at UCL I completed a Diploma in Criminology and Investigative Psychology (Papal Salesian University of Rome, Italy), I obtained a BSc in Psychology (UNIVDA, Italy), and a MSc in Psychology and Law (Maastricht University, Netherlands). My passion and my commitment to research led me to start researching a few months after starting my bachelor's degree. I worked as Research Assistant for more than five years at the Forensic Science Centre of Turin, Italy (now CRIMELAB), in collaboration with Åbo Akademi (Turku, Finland) and at the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Maastricht University (Netherlands). Thanks to these experiences I was employed in a research project on developing diagnostic tools for assessing paedophilic sexual interest directed by Prof. Pekka Santtila (Åbo Akademi, Finland). My work in the project resulted in a presentation (Using a Dual Target Rapid Serial Visual Presentation Task as an Attention-Based Measurement Procedure of Deviant Sexual Interest) at the 16th World Congress of the International Society for Criminology in Kobe, Japan in August 2011. I also researched and translated the NICHD Interview Protocol (i.e. the International Evidence-Based Investigative Interviewing of Children that are suspected victims of child sexual abuse) published in a book (2009) and on the official protocol website (2013).
Why I chose to study here: My love for the academic world is a multifaceted thing: I highly respect the value of education, both formal and informal, and I am characterized by strong curiosity and desire for knowledge, but I also love the power of science to create social change. I am striving to find practical solutions to complex problems and I strongly believe science and scientific research are the foundation for this change, which can be achieved through evidence-based policies and interventions. The Security and Crime Science Department at UCL is the embodiment of this philosophy. I found the power of the Jill Dando Institute to foster social innovation and provide scientific knowledge to improve crime prevention and criminal justice policies worldwide extremely appealing. I applied to UCL because I believed that the MSc in Crime Science fitted perfectly my vision of how science should play a central role in crime prevention and the development of evidence based techniques to face security problems. I also really appreciated the multidisciplinary approach of this master, that made it really interesting to me and suited my multidisciplinary background.
The best bits: High-quality teaching and facilities, the incredibly vast amount of published material students have access to, diversity of course offering, variety of high-level guest speakers and diversity of backgrounds of people I studied and worked with are the best bits of studying at UCL Security and Crime Science for me. I also enjoyed the practical focus of the course such as the opportunity to learn analytical tools to effectively conduct crime analysis, intelligence analysis and statistical analysis and the hands-on experience dealing with real-world problems of direct concern to decision makers. Being a student at UCL Security and Crime Science also gave me the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus Intensive Program: Course on Violence and Confinement, Practice and Ethics at the “Université Rennes 2”, (Rennes, France) with a scholarship.
The challenges: During the MSc in Crime Science I had serious health issues that made time management a real challenge. However, the invaluable continuing support and understanding of UCL Security and Crime Science staff and professors allowed me not only to complete the programme but to graduate with Distinction and win the Penny Willow Price for best dissertation of the student cohort 2015-2016.
What I do now: After my MSc in Crime Science at UCL I graduated from the International Expert Programme in Investigative and Legal Psychology (IEPILP) at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) with an A. After a two year-long break, during which I worked as an intern in a private investigation company and as project manager, I realized how much I missed the intellectual challenge of academia so I am now a PhD candidate in Criminal Justice at John Jay College (CUNY) in New York City (US).
How did my degree help me to get my job: Thanks to the programme of the MSc in Crime Science I have come to believe interdisciplinary research is often crucial to advancing understanding and solving problems. When analysing issues my multidisciplinary background has helped me explore the problem from different angles and by merging techniques from different fields I have managed to develop new theories and solutions. The first example is my dissertation project at UCL under the supervision of Prof. Richard Wortley. The originality and robustness of the study led to me winning the awards previously mentioned and, together with Prof. Wortley and Prof. Stephen Smallbone, we are currently in the process of publishing this study. Interdisciplinary research has then become one of my strengths and I have applied it to other projects with excellent results. This has been extremely important for my career.
- Franklin Epiphanio Gomes de Almeida (MSc Policing 2019)
My background: I am Brazilian, born and bred. I have worked as a police officer at Mato Grosso Military Police since 2003. Currently, I occupy the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. My first degree was a Bachelor in Public Security at the Police Academy. Then I graduated in Law, studied three postgraduate courses (Human Rights, Research and Teaching Methodology, and Public Security Management), and an MSc in Social Policy. In the police, I have worked in the most diverse areas: commanding patrols, managing personnel, investigating police misconduct in the Internal Oversight Service, training police officers in the Police Academy, flying airplanes in the Airborne Unit, etc.
Why I chose to study here: There are three main reasons that made me chose to study Security and Crime Science at UCL. First, this is my area of expertise; second, the JDI (Jill Dando Institute of Security & Crime Science) is a reference worldwide in security studies; finally, the JDI has a unit called Latin America and Caribbean Unit that has a particular focus on public security and policing in Latin America.
The best bits: The opportunity to study MSc Policing at UCL gave me a better understanding of the complexity of my field. Learning from real experts in security and crime science and working with a wide range of students from different backgrounds was a unique experience.
The challenges: Coming up with a good and viable dissertation project was an arduous task that required a lot of dedication. But I would say that the biggest challenges are yet to come in the practice of policing, trying to put into practice what I learned.
What I do now: I am back to my police force in Brazil, looking to set up an evidence-based policing department.
There are many ways for our alumni to stay connected with UCL Security and Crime Science.
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- You can join the UCL Alumni - a global community that provides an exclusive networking area where you can search the directory for potential mentors, search for jobs from your alumni community and build your personal network with experienced alumni professionals all over the world. You can also join one of UCL's active alumni groups to connect with your international community and special interest groups such as the Engineering Network.
You could also volunteer your time: UCL's alumni volunteers are at the forefront of our position as one of the world's leading universities. Your time and expertise can be used to benefit UCL, our students and staff in a number of valuable ways across a variety of roles: