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Meet Dr Michelle Addison

Meet Dr Michelle Addison, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing. Dr Addison is the programme director of MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice.

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Tell us about your role within your department: 

I am the Programme Director of the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice, in the Department of Sociology. This means that I lead your course, working with a team of academics and fantastic administrative staff to deliver the best teaching and learning experience for you and your peers.  

What first attracted you to your chosen field of expertise? 

In my own work I focus on social harm and the experiences of people subjected to marginalisation, minoritisation, and oppression – particularly around gender, class and ‘criminalisation’. I was attracted to this field of research because I want to work towards a long-term vision of social justice for those facing the greatest social and health disadvantages in society. 

What is your favourite subject to teach and why? 

The topic I am most passionate about in my teaching focuses on the criminalisation of poverty and the role power, stigma, and social harm play in generating social and health inequalities. Each year I discuss key findings from the UK Joseph Rowntree Foundation Poverty report with our students and look at what this means for those who have been involved with the criminal justice system. We ask difficult questions like: Whose interests are served by the criminal justice system? Are there alternatives to criminalisation and criminal justice? To what extent is the criminalisation of poverty harmful?  

What can students expect from their first few weeks on your course? 

Students can expect to be immersed in important critical issues and debates relating to crime and the criminal justice system right from the outset in our lively and welcoming classroom discussions, seminars and lectures. The MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 1-year course if you choose to do it full-time – you will take a range of taught modules primarily in the first two terms of the academic year. This will include a core ‘Researching Society, Policy and Practice’ module which will help you to develop your research skills and your own research proposal in preparation for completing your dissertation later in the academic year. In your induction week you will meet me and the rest of your year group. You will receive key information about your course, confirm your timetable and can begin attending your classes. The first few weeks will be spent getting to know your peers and our academics; you will be orientating yourself around the university, your college, and getting to know what clubs and networks you would like to get involved with. Durham is a vibrant and beautiful city with many historic places to explore – your first few weeks with us will be exciting!    

What do you think makes your course and department unique? 

Our course and department are unique because of our world leading academic experts and brilliant administrative staff. This is an inclusive and welcoming space in which you will learn how to critically and respectfully engage with difficult questions, and discuss historical and contemporary concerns such as terrorism, sex work, legal and illegal drugs, crime in the night-time economy, forced migration, domestic violence, prison and punishment, policing and youth crime and justice. We are passionate about making a positive difference in the world through our teaching and our research.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course? 

If you have a love of learning then come and attend one of our open days or join a taster course to get a flavour of what academic life is like here at Durham. It is a fantastic place to live and study!  

Check out our roster of amazing academic staff here in the department – their research is world-leading.   

For what it’s worth, I was a first-generation, working-class student here myself once (going back a few years!) and I still remember the feeling of being a bit like a fish out of water at times. It’s not all castles, cathedrals and ivory towers – the people here are genuinely lovely and will help you to feel at ease.  

If you’ve got questions, then we will help you answer them – do reach out to me or any of our team.  

What have your students gone on to do after graduating from Durham? 

Postgraduate taught students from our department have generally gone on to work in the criminal justice system, and some have pursued doctoral study. Some of our graduates have now gone on to work for the police, others in HMPPS as Prison Officers; some graduates now work with their local council supporting policy development; others have decided to become teachers, whilst we also have students who have gone on to work in the 3rd sector supporting people who have experienced domestic violence.  

Find out more

  • Dr Michelle Addison is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing. Dr Addison is the programme director of MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice.  If you would like to find out more about Michelle, visit her profile.
  • If you’d like to share your story or insights into your work, visit our Submit a blog or vlog page to learn more.