Postgrad LIVE! Study Fairs

Birmingham | Edinburgh | Liverpool | Sheffield | Southampton | Bristol

University of Bristol Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Birkbeck, University of London Featured PhD Programmes
University of St Andrews Featured PhD Programmes
University of Manchester Featured PhD Programmes

Expert witnesses in the criminal courts (Advert Reference: RDF19/BL/LAW/WARD)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The ability of expert witnesses and advocates to communicate scientific issues clearly to juries and magistrates has often been criticised, but there is a dearth of research about how expert evidence is delivered in criminal courts and how experts present their evidence and are cross-examined. Previous research at Northumbria has revealed that advocates lack training on scientific issues and are often unaware of the guidelines on admissibility of expert evidence contained in the criminal procedure rules, but there is only anecdotal evidence about how these gaps in knowledge affect courtroom practice. The aim of this research project is to fill this gap by observing cases in the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Courts where it is expected that experts will give oral evidence. The research should include analysis of judicial rulings on admissibility, the way experts communicate their findings (for example the use of visual aids and ‘verbal scales’ of probability), and the nature of cross-examination.

Your research proposal should explain the methods you would apply to the study and how it would be informed by the literature in other disciplines (for example, psychology or sociology) as well as law. Although the focus is on criminal courts, proposals which also include observation of civil courts will be considered.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• 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 currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

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

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/BL/LAW/WARD) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Sophie Carr, Emma Piasecki, Gillian Tully and Tim J. Wilson, ‘Opening the scientific expert's black box: "critical trust" as a reformative principle in criminal evidence. (2016) 80(5) J Crim L 364

Gemma Davies and Emma Piasecki, ‘No more laissez faire? Expert evidence, rule changes and reliability: can more effective training for the bar and judiciary prevent miscarriages of justice?’ (2016) 80(5) J Crim L 327 [the previous research referred to in the Project Rationale]

Paul Roberts and Tony Ward, ‘Expert Evidence in Trials for Sexual Offences’ in Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases, eds. G. Gudjonsson, A. Heaton-Armstrong, P. Radcliffe and D. Wolchover. Oxford University Press, 2016

Tony Ward ‘“A New and More Rigorous Approach” to Expert Evidence in England and Wales?’ (2015) 19(4) E&P 228-245.

Tony Ward, Gary Edmond, Kristy A. Martire and Natalie Wortley, ‘Forensic Science, Scientific Validity and Reliability: Advice from America’ [2017] Crim LR 357-78

Related Subjects

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2018
All rights reserved.