The Impact of Digital Resources in the History of Crime

Applications are invited for an AHRC funded PhD Studentship on the topic of ‘The Impact of Digital Resources in the History of Crime’.


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 66,000 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

This project will examine the impact of the widespread availability of digital resources on attitudes towards crime and its history. Core case studies will include the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, Founders and Survivors (records of the 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania), and, following its launch, the Digital Panopticon website. This project will investigate both academic and non-academic uses of internet information provided in the UK and Australia, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. A wide range of sources can be used to measure the extent to which these sites have shaped how the history of crime has been written, and to assess their impact on users' perceptions of the crimes and punishments, including individual criminal lives, documented on these websites. It will also be possible to investigate how using these resources has shaped wider attitudes towards crime and punishment in contemporary society. The studentship will appeal to researchers interested in the history of crime, public history, and the digital humanities.

Award Details

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


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 and EU 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 Claire Williams, Department of History, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S3 7RA.

The application deadline is 28 July 2014. Interviews will take place on 11 or 12 August 2014.

Any academic enquiries should be directed to Professor Robert Shoemaker: (