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PhD projects

Quantitative criminology; youth crime and justice; violence and homicide; developmental criminology and criminal careers; police stop and search; crime trends and patterns; assaults against police staff; policing and the pandemic.

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Personal profile


Susan is Chair of Quantitative Criminology within the School of Law. She has several major research roles and plays a significant role with in the Scottish and UK research community. She is Director of the ESRC-funded Understanding Inequalities (UI) project which aims to create an innovative and ambitious programme of research on the causes, consequences and policy implications of social inequaltieis across different dimensions and spatial scales.  She is Co-Director of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a prospective longitudinal study of youth offending based at the University of Edinburgh since 1998. She has responsibility for strategic management of the research programme and plays a key role in advancing statistical analysis of the data and publishing the results of the research.  She is also Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research and leads on the Safer Communities Strategic Impact Programme.  She is a co-investigator for the ESRC-funded eNurture Network, one of eight mental health networks across the UK.  She is an affiliated member of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, another collaborative initiative involving Stirling, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Edinburgh Universities in partnership with the other Scottish HEIs.  Susan founded the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) in 2009 and was Director of a major programme of research and training until 2017. 

Susan has a broad range of substantive interests, and her recent work includes research into:  crime and justice inequalities; crime patterns and trends in the context of the crime drop in Scotland; youth anti-social behaviour and offending; criminal careers through the life-course; systems of justice, including transitions from juvenile to adult criminal justice systems; neighbourhood effects on offending and victimisation; patterns of violence and homicide; youth gangs and knife crime; policing and crime reduction; and stop and search in Scotland. She champions the use of advanced methods in quantitative criminology, and her current work involves developing longitudinal techniques for understanding the factors associated with trends in crime over time; modelling trajectories of offending and linking this to criminal histories; using multi-level modelling to establish the impact of neighbourhood-level effects and dynamics over and above individual-level effects on individual delinquency; and using quasi-experimental methods to investigate the impact of early youth justice intervention on later behaviour, life chances and criminal conviction trajectories.

Susan regularly provides strategic advice to academic and non-academic organisations.  She is a member of several Scottish Government committees, including the Board of Official Statistics in Scotland, the Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search and the Independent Advisory Group on Policing and Biometric Data.  She is a strategic advisor to Police Scotland on stop and search, children and young people, and demand and performance.  She sits on the Research Advisory Group of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.  She is consulted on a range of crime and justice related issues by central and local governments, third sector organisations and private sector bodies.  She regularly reviews articles for various journals, including the British Journal of Criminology, Youth Justice, and Criminology and Criminal Justice. Prior to working for the University, she was a government researcher in Scotland with responsiblity for the development of research on crime surveys, various aspects of the criminal justice system and substance use.  For eight years, she was a special advisor to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and played a strategic role in advising the development of doctorial training and advanced quantitative methods training at the UK level.  

Along with her colleague Professor Lesley McAra, Susan was awarded the Howard League for Penal Reform Research Medal in 2013, the University of Edinburgh Chancellor's Award for Impact in 2016 and the ESRC Award for Outstanding Public Policy Impact in 2019.  She was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014; and she was awarded an OBE in the 2016 Queen's New Year's Honours List for Services to Social Science. 


External positions

Board Member, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

1 Apr 2017 → …

Board Member, Official Statistics in Scotland Board

1 Sept 2016 → …

Member, ESRC Capability Committee

Sept 2015Mar 2019

Member, Scottish Government's Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search

1 May 2015 → …

Member, National Centre for Research methods Advisory Group


Member, Urban Big Data Centre Advisory Group


Member, Police Scotland Children and Young persons Reference Group

2014 → …

Board Member, Scottish Government's Building Safer Communities Programme Board


member, Welsh Institute for Social and Econmic Research Data Advisory Group

2013 → …

Member, ESRC Training and Skills Committee

Sept 2012Aug 2015

Member, Scottish Government's ScotStat Crime and Justice Committee

2004 → …


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