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This studentship is attached to the AHRC funded Digital Transformations project, ‘The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925’, a collaborative project between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Sussex, and Tasmania. The project seeks to use innovative digital methodologies to investigate the penal outcomes of those convicted at the Old Bailey, by comparing imprisonment in Britain with transportation from Britain to Australia. The project will assemble large and complex bodies of criminal justice, genealogical and biometric data and use sophisticated visualisation and data-linking methodologies to map and analyse convict lives at both the collective and individual level. In addition to a wide range of publications, the project will create an electronic resource which will provide an integrated publicly available search engine for searching datasets containing life course data for the 90,000 Londoners who experienced the two penal regimes. The project is led by Principal Investigator Professor Barry Godfrey, Liverpool University, and Co-Investigators Professor Robert Shoemaker, University of Sheffield, Professor Tim Hitchcock, University of Sussex, Dr Deborah Oxley, Oxford University, and Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, University of Tasmania. Shoemaker will be the principal supervisor of this PhD, with a secondary supervisor chosen from among the project team.

The doctoral project will constitute an independent piece of research on a topic related to the overall project. The student will be able to use evidence and electronic resources generated by the project; attend project meetings, workshops and conferences; benefit from working closely with the investigators and Research Associates; and be given the opportunity to co-write publications. Nonetheless, in consultation with the supervisors, s/he will be given the latitude to shape their own direction of research.

Studentship Description

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed the development of both new forms of policing and ideas about habitual criminality. Taking advantage of the extensive records of both petty and serious crime digitised and linked together by the Digital Panopticon project, this studentship will investigate these phenomena from the perspective of the judicial records, by tracing the incidence and character of criminal prosecutions. The project will seek to understand the extent to which prosecutions at the Old Bailey resulted from patterns of underlying criminal activity, repeat offending, and/or the actions of prosecutors and the police in identifying previously identified 'suspicious characters'. The student may wish to focus on identifying the social and cultural factors which made some Londoners prone to reoffending and rearrest, or examining the impact of changing methods of policing on patterns of prosecutions, or analysing the relationship between the chronology of repeat prosecutions and the evolution of contemporary thought about reoffending. This research will allow the student to draw conclusions about the causes of crime, the impact of the new police, and the background to nineteenth-century thought about crime. The topic will appeal to researchers interested in the history of crime and policing and the social history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England more generally.

Award Details

The award will cover the cost of UK/EU tuition fees and provides an annual maintenance grant at the standard RCUK rate (full-time rate £13,863 for 2014-15) for three years. The studentship will commence on 1 October 2015.


To apply for the studentship, applicants need to apply directly to the University of Sheffield for entrance into the doctoral programme in History.

The general eligibility requirements are:

• Students applying for a doctoral studentship should normally have, or be studying for, a Master's degree, or equivalent qualification, in History or a related discipline.
• Applicants should also have a 2.1 in a BA degree, or equivalent qualification, in history or a related discipline.
• Awards are open to UK, EU and international applicants who are applying to study either full or part-time.

How to apply

• Complete an application for admission as a postgraduate student at
• Applications should include a CV including academic record (max. 3 pages); supporting statement (max. 3 pages); academic transcripts and two references.
• In your supporting statement please state you are applying for this project and outline your reasons for doing so.
• Supporting documents can either be uploaded to your application or sent by email or post to Miss Abby Brown, Department of History, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S3 7RA.

Please note, if you are also applying to our standard PhD programme, including the main funding competitions such as WRoCAH, Wolfson and University funding, you will need to enter your application to this studentship as an additional course choice with its own supporting statement. If you would like to provide references specific to this studentship you can send your referees a link through your application in the usual way. Alternatively, your references will be copied across for you along with your transcripts.

The application deadline is 27 February 2015. Interviews will take place in March.

Any academic enquiries should be directed to Professor Robert Shoemaker (

Any questions about the application process should be directed to Beky Hasnip (