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Understanding the Use of Digital Forensics in the Investigation and Prosecution of Major Crime Offences in England and Wales

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  • Full or part time
    Prof F Brookman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

USW is part of the Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) in Social Policy, a University Alliance initiative which aims to deliver a new approach to postgraduate research opportunities. It builds on the research strengths and industry-focused ethos of Alliance universities, offering fully funded postgraduate programmes which deliver excellent research with real world impact, an expert network of support and potential employment opportunities for researchers. Students will be based at USW and there will be opportunities for the candidate to share and engage with other PhD students and researchers in one of the biggest DTA programmes in the UK.

The student will receive comprehensive training in not only the area of the project but also will acquire practical innovation and entrepreneurial expertise. This will include attendance at the DTA Training Schools and access to a bespoke ‘elective programme’ hosted across the network of universities. You will be provided with excellent training and supported in your development as an independent researcher.

Project details

An original, ethnographic study is proposed to examine how Digital Forensic (DF) knowledge and practice contributes to the detection and prosecution of major crime. Specifically, the study would aim to discover how digital forensics (DF) (e.g. photographs, videos or GPS data from smartphones, tablets or sat navs) are used when investigating and prosecuting major crimes, including homicide and sexual assaults. The use of DF by the CJS is increasing as are concerns about the use of DF. To date, there is little research on the shift in the use of this evidence and the context of its use. This study aims to fill this gap, through in-depth observations, interviews and the study of documents, to understand how exactly DF is being used, challenges to its use and whether it is being used appropriately and effectively.

For informal enquiries about the project, please contact Professor Fiona Brookman [Email Address Removed]

Eligibility criteria

The successful candidate would need to hold a first class or upper second class degree in criminology, sociology, law, forensic sciences or a closely allied social science discipline. Ideally, the candidate would also hold a Master’s degree in one of the aforementioned disciplines.

Experience of working successfully with police or other professional practitioners within the criminal justice system will be advantageous. The successful candidate would need to demonstrate excellent writing and communication skills.

Studentship details

The successful applicant will receive a tax-free bursary of £14,777 per annum, tuition fees paid (at the Home/EU rate) and £1500 per year for travel and subsistence to enable interaction between collaborating organisations.


To apply please visit:

A research proposal, of no more than 1,500 words should accompany your application, and should include research context, aims and proposed methods.

Please select Social Policy/Criminology MPhil/PhD when applying and clearly state on your application (in the personal statement) that you are applying for a DTA Social Policy Studentship.

For further information on the process, please contact Ms Llinos Spargo in the Graduate School [Email Address Removed]
Closing date: Friday 18th October 2019. Interviews: during October/November (date TBC). Start date: 6th January 2020.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will receive a tax-free bursary of £14,777 per annum, tuition fees paid (at the Home/EU rate) and £1500 per year for travel and subsistence to enable interaction between collaborating organisations.

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