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Criminal Law and Queer Male Desire (RDF23/LAW/ASHFORD)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Prof Chris Ashford, Dr Laura Graham  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Criminal Law continues to reach into the regulation of queer male desire whether in the form of the legacy from historic laws, or ongoing criminalization of sex or offences often related to sex, for example in relation to sex work, HIV transmission, public sex, or aspects of expression for example in relation to pornography. Theoretical research, notably queer interventions from Adler (2018), Brooks (2019), Cossman (2007, 2021), Fischel (2016, 2019), and others have sought to challenge the boundaries of law and interrogate ideas of consent, bodily autonomy, ethics, and legal reform. This project will provide an original socio-legal theoretical contribution developing these themes and is likely to incorporate empirical work. 

This research project will be conducted within the Gender, Sexuality, and Law research cluster, part of the Law and Society Research Group in the Faculty of Business and Law, where you will join a rich and thriving research community. Examples of doctoral work that has been undertaken within this group include:; same sex relationships and normative expectations; kink pornography and legal consciousness; equality and anti-discrimination law; international law, detention and sexual orientation and gender identity; sex work and international human rights; political and legal responses to sex work; and dating apps and HIV disclosure.

Applicants should clearly indicate where they would wish to focus the project within the context of the themes set out above. The research will fall within the broad ambit of socio-legal methods and methodology and the application should clearly identify how it will do this. Your project is likely to draw on queer and/or feminist perspectives but you should clearly articulate your proposed approach and methodology. 

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Professor Chris Ashford. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed]. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Funding Information

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2022/23 full-time study this is £17,668 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £10,600 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities).  

Please also see further advice below of additional costs that may apply to international applicants

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.  Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence, and be aware of the following additional costs that may be incurred, as these are not covered by the studentship.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge
  • If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to the information on It is important that you read this information very carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application otherwise your visa may be refused.
  • Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England
  • Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be borne by the university. Please see individual adverts for further details of the English Language requirements for the university you are applying to.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see   

For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. RDF23/…).

Deadline for applications: 27 January 2023

Start date of course: 1 October 2023 tbc

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers.


Giles, C, Ashford, C and Brown, K (2022) ‘Online Safety and Identity: Navigating Same-Sex Male Social ‘Dating’ Apps and Networks’, Information & Communications Technology Law 31(3) 269-286.
Ashford, C and Longstaff, G (2022) ‘Towards a Politics of ‘Raw Dicks’: Authenticity, the Alt-Self and New Understandings of the Phallus’, Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities 3(1) 79-97.
Ashford, C and Longstaff, G (2021) ‘(Re)regulating Gay Sex in Viral Times: Covid-19 and the Impersonal Intimacy of the Glory Hole’, Culture, Heath & Sexuality, 23(11) 1559-1572.
Ashford, C and Maine, A (eds.) (2020) Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law, Edward Elgar.

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Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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