School of Law

Caroline Penn

MSc Criminal Justice and Criminology | 2014 (MSc) 2015 - 2018 (PhD)

Photo of Caroline Penn

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?

I worked in the criminal justice system and in civil enforcement for over fifteen years and in 2011 I made the decision to go to university to enhance my skills. I studied Psychology and Crime (BSc) at the University of Bradford and thoroughly enjoyed studying and conducting research. For my final year research project I interviewed probation officers who work on sex offender treatment programmes and it was during this time that I decided I wanted to continue doing research.  I am from Bradford and have three children.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

During my final year as an undergraduate I was encouraged by my dissertation supervisor to apply for PhD funding. I saw that Leeds was offering scholarships to undertake an MA and a PhD (1+3). I spoke to academic and support staff within the School of Law at Leeds and received great information about what was required for the application. Leeds was the perfect choice for me: I live nearby and I really liked how friendly and helpful staff were, and how professional the School of Law was. I submitted an application to study at Leeds along with a research proposal and was then invited to interview. I was delighted to have been chosen to undertake the MA and PhD!

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I am really interested in how policy and processes affect the daily lives of people within the criminal justice system. I am particularly interested in prison and how prison staff and practitioners manage the issue of early release. There is so much interesting academic and political debate about prisons at the moment that it is impossible to not be passionate about it!

What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?

I completed the Masters part of my study in Sept 2015 and started my PhD in October 2015. I really enjoyed it as it provided an excellent background to carrying out research at postgraduate level. For my dissertation I was able to conduct research with practitioners which helped me to develop the skills required to do a PhD. Since I started my PhD I have been designing my research, engaging with practitioners and attending courses to develop my research skills further. I am most looking forward to carrying out research and analysing the findings. I also had the opportunity to attend a conference in London and Latvia on my research topic, and have been involved in organsing two PG conferences at the School of Law.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?

The School of Law has excellent facilities for postgraduate students as there are dedicated areas for both PGT and PGR students. The libraries are also excellent and I especially enjoy going to the Brotherton Library as it is such a beautiful space to use.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

As I was born in the area I have seen Leeds grow into a city which has everything . It is great for shopping and socialising and there is always something happening in Leeds. I especially like the number of galleries and art events which take place too.

What do you like to do outside of studying?

I have three children who are football mad so I spend a lot of time watching them train and play or going to watch Liverpool play. Having a busy family life, and being a PhD student, can mean that life is hectic at times but I enjoy spending time with family and friends who have been so supportive during my time as a student!

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

To anyone considering doing an Masters Course at the School of Law I would say go for it. The Masters in Criminal Justice and Criminology is both interesting and useful. The chance to do a major piece of self directed research, with support, could help you to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs or research funding.

I would also encourage anyone to apply to do a PhD at Leeds too. I found staff to be really helpful and friendly which I think is important when considering which university to apply to. The quality of teaching, academic expertise and opportunities to contribute to the research community are also excellent at Leeds.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course?

Once I have completed my PhD I hope to be in a position to carry out further research, whether this would be in a university or within a different organisation. I certainly hope to continue learning and developing my research skills whatever happens after my PhD.

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