A lecturer’s thoughts on Criminology at York

For this post I decided to get a rather different perspective on studying criminology at York. Special thanks go to Dr Katy Sian, lecturer in Sociology, for giving her thoughts on some of my questions…

Why do you think criminology is so appealing to students?

I think criminology is appealing to students because it is a subject that allows them to think critically about the nature and shape of crime and deviance locally, nationally and globally. It allows students to critique and analyse forms of state control, police practices, and elements of the criminal justice system which often appear ‘normal’ or ‘natural.’ Criminology is exciting because of its interdisciplinary nature, so students have to opportunity to engage with a broad range of areas including Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, Politics and Law.

What are your research interests?

My research interests are:

  • Race and ethnicity studies
  • Critical race theory
  • Postcolonialism
  • The war on terror and security
  • Islamophobia

I am particularly interested in examining the complex ways in which identities are constructed through the politics of inclusion and exclusion. I am keen to understand how such processes are often managed, defined and articulated through the hierarchical framing of the West/Non West.

What is the relevance of criminology today – does it have an impact?

Criminology is perhaps one of the most relevant social science subjects for our understanding of contemporary society. In a time of political, economic, and social instability criminologists can speak to everyday issues and pose important questions around rising patterns of hate crime, police brutality, intensified surveillance practices, riots, the prison crisis and plenty more! Criminology allows us to engage first hand with current events and much of the research conducted by criminologists can make important interventions in policy, legislation, and the media.

What do you enjoy most about being a lecturer at the University of York?

I really enjoy teaching at York. I find the mix of students that I teach to be really refereshing; they are engaged, inquisitive and enthusiastic. It is always rewarding to see students develop as critical thinkers over the course of their degree programme, many of who go on to achieve successful careers in a diverse range of sectors. Being able to contribute to the shaping of their ideas and skills is particularly pleasing.

Having completed studies and held posts at Universities including Manchester and Leeds, as well as others abroad, what do you think sets York apart for criminology?

Criminology at York is exciting, contemporary and fresh. York historically has played an important role in the development of critical criminology in Britain, and that tradition continues today. We offer a range of exciting themes and issues for students to explore including terrorism, policing, and prisons, to environmental crime, international crime, and urban crime. Alongside this we critically examine the way in which inequality continues to shape discourses around crime and deviance and consider the impact of race, gender and class. We engage with media and popular culture to make the course relevant and current. We offer students both practical experience and theoretical knowledge which they can draw upon in future employment.

Why do you think students chose to study at York?

The campus here at York is picturesque with a vibrant and lively atmosphere. There is a strong sense of community amongst the students, with a range of exciting events and societies for students to attend and join. There are numerous facilitaties which students can take advantage of, and a number of opportunities for career development and study abroad. York delivers excellent teaching, and staff are always on hand to support students. Furthermore York is at the cutting edge of research with a reputation that is celebrated globally. I think combined these factors make York a great place to study!

Thank you for answering my questions – I look forward to your next seminar!

Hopefully this short interview has demonstrated the care and passion of the teaching staff here at York, or at the very least piqued your interest! You can find out more about Dr Katy Sian’s research interests, academic background and publications. And as ever, please do feel free to leave a comment on this blog if you’d like to ask any questions of your own!

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Second year Criminology undergraduate with a strong "get involved in everything" philosophy, and proud member of Derwent College.