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This strengthening relationship is pushing the boundaries of both institutions, with the benefits being felt by students, prisoners and staff across both the prison and the university.

Phil Novis, governor, HMP Leicester


This page shows where prison-university partnerships are happening in the UK. If you know of a partnership that’s missing from here, please get in touch with our Networks Officer Helena.

University of Northampton | HMP Onley |

University of Northampton HMP Onley

Model: Lecture series

Lecturers in Criminology from Northampton are giving a three-part lecture course in Social Justice to students from HMP Onley alongside a cohort of Northampton’s Year 2 Criminology students. Established to break down barriers and enable the Onley students to “engage outside the normal parameters”, there is a view to expand the partnership to include other subject areas.

Nottingham Trent University | HMP Lowdham Grange | HMP Sudbury |

Nottingham Trent University HMP Lowdham Grange, HMP Sudbury

Model: Learning Together

The first Learning Together course between Nottingham Trent University and HMP Lowdham Grange piloted in the 2016/17 academic year, and was themed around the theory, policy and practice of Criminology and Education Studies. The eight-week course is intended as a study of, an exploration, and discussion into the value of lifelong learning, and the benefits of education provision for all. Delivered by Nottingham Trent University academics, learning is facilitated by a combination of seminars and discussions. A Sociology course now runs in Lowdham Grange and in HMP Sudbury.

The Open University | HMP Oakwood | HMP Stafford | HMP Wandsworth | HMP Wormwood Scrubs |

The Open University HMP Wandsworth, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, HMP Oakwood, HMP Stafford

Model: Various, including Learning Together and a seminar series

The Open University has been supporting Students in Secure Environments since the 1970s. It ran a variety of prison-based public legal education pilot projects with St Giles Trust, HMP Wandsworth and HMP Wormwoood Scrubs over 2017/18  academic year. Small groups of OU law students worked with St. Giles peer advisors to identify areas of legal need within their client community and develop suitable public legal education projects to help address that need.


OU students also contribute to the research, design and delivery of a law seminar series in HMP Wormwood Scrubs, incorporating current academic debates on topical legal issues.

Currently in HMP Stafford and HMP Oakwood the OU runs a research seminar. Each month, an academic delivers a short lecture to prisoners, who are then invited to ask questions and discuss the issues raised. Topics have ranged from the rise of Donald Trump to, to the atmosphere of the moon.

University of Oxford | HMP Grendon |

University of Oxford HMP Grendon

Model: Learning Together

University of Roehampton | HMP Belmarsh |

University of Roehampton HMP Belmarsh

Model: Learning Together

We have brought together two enormous bureaucracies – and within those bureaucracies are scatterings of people who may never have thought about universities or prisons before in the course of their prison or university job.”

The University of Roehampton run a Criminology module called ‘Understanding Justice’ which is fully accredited for all 20 students (10 prison and 10 university students), who enrol. In the course they tackle two theoretical positions on the meaning of justice before applying these abstract notions to real world cases, for example by looking at the ‘Snoopers Charter’ through the lens of consequentialism.

Royal Holloway | HMP Bronzefield | HMYOI Feltham |

Royal Holloway, University of London HMYOI Feltham, HMP Bronzefield

Model: Learning Together

Undergraduate Criminology students from Royal Holloway have been studying ‘Contemporary Social Issues’ alongside learners in HMYOI Feltham, and students from University of Westminster. The programme has a strong study skills element, supporting Royal Holloway students as they make the transition into Higher Education, while also providing the young men at Feltham with valuable transferable skills, both for future study and for employability. In 2017 Serena Wright and Rosie Meek ran a module titled ‘Pioneering Women,’ offered to students from RHUL and prison learners in HMP Bronzefield.

University of Salford | HMP Forest Bank |

University of Salford HMP Forest Bank

Model: Inside Out

This Inside Out partnership between the University of Salford and HMP Forest Bank teaches a Criminology module. It is running for the first time in Autumn 2018.This criminology based module asks key questions each week, such as ‘What are prisons for?’ The module has two assessments, a reflective essay and a group work project. All students, both inside and out, have the same readings and assessment and receive credits for the module.

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research | HMP Barlinnie | HMP Greenock | HMP Schotts |

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research HMP Schotts, HMP Greenock, HMP Barlinnie

Model: Various, including academic reading groups

University postgraduate students meet monthly with prison-based students in peer-run sessions at HMPs Shotts, Greenock and Barlinnie to discuss academic texts in social sciences, humanities and physical sciences. The aim is to reproduce the kinds of reading groups typically available in universities as part of a liberal arts educational philosophy and which support: group based learning, discussion and debate skills, critical analytical skills, close reading, high level textual engagement and knowledge acquisition.

Teesside University | HMP Holme House |

Teesside University HMP Holme House

Model: Inside Out

The first Inside-Out course with Teesside University at HMP Holme House was established in 2016 and takes the central concern of social justice and explores this in the local context, tracing connections between global forces and local effects on the economy and industry, poverty and inequality, as well as crime and criminal justice. Undergraduate criminology and sociology students study alongside a cohort from HMP Holme House on a 14-week accredited module engaging with critical discussions and group work within an equal, positive and passionate learning environment.

Wakefield College | HMP Wakefield |

Wakefield College HMP Risley

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