Photo of Dr Cormac Behan

Dr Cormac Behan

Position: Lecturer
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6715

Academic Profile

I joined the Law School as a Lecturer in Criminology in September 2011. Prior to taking up this position, I taught political education and history in Irish prisons for 14 years. While teaching political education in prison, I developed an interest in political activity among prisoners. In 2006, I was awarded an Ad Astra scholarship to undertake a PhD at the UCD Institute of Criminology. My doctoral research examined the level of civic engagement and political participation among prisoners in Ireland, with a particular focus on the extent to which they have exercised their franchise since legislation enabling prisoners to vote was introduced in 2006. I completed my PhD in 2009 and was the first Ad Astra scholar to graduate from the UCD School of Law.

I have lectured at University College Dublin; OSCAIL, the National Distance Education Centre and was a teacher trainer with the Irish Curriculum Development Unit.


  • PhD, University College Dublin, Ireland
  • MA, Adult Education, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • Higher Diploma, Adult Education, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • M.Litt., History, Trinity College, Dublin
  • BA, History and Politics, University College Dublin

Teaching and Learning

I believe a research-led approach to teaching enhances the educational experience for both students and lecturer. My teaching reflects areas of interest in criminology and penology. In both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, I encourage students to become reflective learners in order to challenge them to critically consider deeply held assumptions and to locate the criminal justice system in general and the penal system in particular in a wider social, political and cultural context.

I have a keen interest in module and programme development. In my various positions, I have always been interested in designing new courses, exploring innovative ways of presenting established modules and updating programmes. I am very interested in identifying areas where the provision of courses, materials, and approaches to teaching and learning are in need of revision and development. This inevitably involves a dialogue with students about the ongoing development of modules and creating programmes that meet their needs.

The modules I teach are:

Undergraduate Postgraduate and MA
Prisons and Imprisonment (Convenor) Issues in Comparative Penology (Convenor)
Representations of Crime (Convenor)
Comprehending Criminology
Punishment and Penal Policy
Skills for Criminologists

Research Interests

  • Penal history
  • Punishment and prison
  • Prisoners’ rights
  • Comparative penal policy
  • Prison education

Member of the Centre for Criminological Research.

Areas of Research Supervision

  • Penal history
  • Comparative penal policy
  • Penal cultures
  • Prisoners' rights movements
  • Prison education

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • 2017: Parnell Summer School (Wicklow, Ireland) - Prisoner Enfranchisement and Penal Politics
  • June 2017: University of Nottingham Prison Reform Conference Keynote Address - ‘Monitoring, Inspection and Complaints Adjudication in Prison: The Limits of Prison Accountability Frameworks’
  • March 2017: University of Edinburgh Centre for Law and Society Faculty Seminar - “We are all convicted criminals”? Prisoners, Protest and Penal Politics in the Republic of Ireland
  • July 2016: UCL Centre for Education in Criminal Justice System Conference Keynote Address - ‘Prison Education, Active Citizenship and Transformative Learning’
  • December 2015: University College Dublin School of Law Faculty Seminar - ‘Reform through Revolt? Penal Power, Agency and Prisoners Unions’
  • November 2015: Irish Prison Education Association Annual Conference Keynote Address - ‘Challenging Confinement: Prisoners’ Rights Movements and Penal Reform’.

Key Projects/Grants

Title/Description: What is Justice? Re-Imagining Penal Policy
Awarding Body: Howard League for Penal Reform
People Involved: Cormac Behan; Stephen Farrall; Jennifer Sloan; Christopher Bennett; Joanna Shapland
Years Funded for: 2013 - 2014
Amount: £6000
Title/Description: Ad Astra Scholarship
Awarding Body: University College Dublin
People Involved: Cormac Behan
Years Funded for: 2006 - 2009
Amount: €48,000

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Editor, Journal of Prison Education and Re-entry
  • Member, Advisory Board, Irish Probation Journal
  • Member, British Society of Criminology
  • Member, Correctional Education Association
  • Member, European Prison Education Association
  • Member, European Society of Criminology

Key Publications


  • Behan C (2014) Citizen convicts: Prisoners, politics and the vote. Manchester: Manchester University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Behan CM (2008) From Outside to Inside: Pedagogy Behind Prison Walls In Wright R (Ed.), In the Borderlands California State University San Bernardino RIS download Bibtex download