The victimisation of problem drug users: Developing understandings and partnership responses


We are pleased to invite applications from highly motivated graduates for a full-time three-year PhD studentship to undertake research on the victimisation of problem drug users and partnership responses. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Social Sciences, UWE Bristol, and be supervised by Dr Ian Walmsley and Dr Jack Spicer.  Reference: 2022-JAN-HAS05.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

About the studentship

A recent independent review for the UK government identified the need to improve the treatment and recovery outcomes of problem drug users as part of a whole-systems approach to tackling the harms associated with the domestic drug market. Targeted responses aimed at this population have frequently focused on the link between their drug use and offending behaviour. Far less considered has been the relationship between drug use and victimisation and how criminal justice agencies and third sector organisations respond to such victimisation.

This project will aim to understand the victimisation experienced by problem drug users and inform relevant partnership responses. The student will undertake qualitative interviews with problem drug users to explore the context(s) of victimisation, focusing on the influence of personal, cultural, institutional, and social factors, and its impact on treatment and recovery outcomes. Additionally, they will interview professionals from relevant organisations to identify barriers that facilitate and/or restrict successful partnership responses to experiences of victimisation. 

The PhD will contribute to contemporary criminological debates regarding the drug-crime link, drug treatment and recovery, victimisation and vulnerability, and partnerships between criminal justice agencies and third sector organisations. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Ian Walmsley ( or Dr Jack Spicer ( 


The studentship is available from 1 January 2022 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress, and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years for Home and Overseas students.


Applicants must have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree in criminology, sociology or related subject.

A relevant Masters degree and/or research experience in two or more of the following areas is desirable:

  • qualitative data collection and analysis
  • problem drug use
  • criminological and/or sociological theory
  • drug treatment and recovery; victimology.

Ability to build collaborative relationships with local providers of drug treatment and recovery services and police to support the data collection stage of the PhD.

Previous experience of working with problem drug users is desirable. 

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-JAN-HAS05. Applications which do not include a studentship reference number cannot be considered for shortlisting.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. Applications which are incomplete at the application deadline will not be considered for shortlisting.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

Further information

Interviews will take place on Friday 29 October 2021. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.