Michelle Butler


  • Room 01.024 - Sociology and Social Work

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Imprisonment Criminological Psychology Penal Reform Reducing Reoffending and Desistance Social Media Crimes


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Imprisonment, effects of imprisonment, prison-based parenting programmes, penal reform, penal policy, desistance, reintegration, conflict, criminological psychology and social media related crimes. 

Research Statement

My research background is in criminological psychology and imprisonment. Criminological psychology involves understanding why people engage in crime, how society reacts to and manages criminal behaviour and how individuals begin to leave behind a criminal career. In recent years, I have been involved in investigating the outcomes people experience in prison, penal policy and prison-based parenting programmes. Additionally, I have examined the experiences of those with complex needs, how the imprisonment of parents/caregivers may affect children and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the challenges involved in dealing with social media related crimes. I have also been involved in projects assessing how a history of conflict may affect penal reform, desistance and reintegration.  

I have supervised a number of PhD students and would encourage prospective PhD students to contact me to discuss their proposals.

Current PhD Students

Sinead Meade – Effects of prison work in the Irish Prison Service.

Keira Flanagan - The potential effects of educational and vocational programmes on the desistance process in imprisoned young people.

Karen Johnson - Developing a measure of desistance self-narrative.

Kelly Huie - Examining the applicability of Maslow's hierarchy of needs to explaining self-disclosure on social media.

Mark Williams - The detection and prevention of inappropriate and criminal behaviour on social media.

Abdullah Al Habsi - A cross-national study of WhatsApp users in Oman: Motivations for self-disclosure and risk of blackmail.

Past PhD Students

Aimee Muirhead - Behind Closed Doors: A study of cell-sharing, wellbeing and coping in prison.

Shane Bell - Doing desistance in divided neighbourhoods: The role of conflict affected neighbourhoods.

Lauren Hogg – The impact of state intervention on the work of community-based restorative justice projects in Northern Ireland.

Annemarie Millar - Policing incidents of domestic abuse involving children: Children's and police officers' experience.

Julie Harris - Initiations and transitions to and from injecting drug use and heroin use.


Introducing Criminology (CRM1001)

Punishment, Penal Policy and Prison (CRM3001)

Psychological Perspectives on Crime (CRM3005)



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