Lewis Simpson



My interests are in thinking sociologically, around a number of topics. I am mostly interesting in thinking critically around prisons and their organisation. This has led me to my PhD research focusing on the use of inspection in English and Welsh Prisons. 

I was born in Grimsby, a small coastal town in the East of England. I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Hull, working alongside Keith Tester for a dissertation on the Sociology of Karate. It was with Keith’s recommendation that I applied to study at the University of Leeds for a Masters of Arts by Research, which I successfully complete in 2014. Once I completing my Masters I was employed at the University Centre Grimsby, lecturing in Sociology and programme leading the Criminology degree. During this time I also completed a PGCE at the University of Hull. I am now Lecturer in Criminology at Leeds Beckett University, leading on modules focused around my research interest. 

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I have always been fascinated with the process of researching, and writing around topics in a contemporary setting. Since my MA I have been eager to enter the process of a PhD, mostly for the challenging nature of the content, but also because of the opportunity to develop my skills academically and sociologically within this challenging process.  

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I find prisons a highly interesting area of study for several reasons. As the central location for punishment, they serve a clear purpose within contemporary life. Those inside prisons (staff and prisoners) hold experiences that are often away from the public gaze, and therefore have become overwhelmingly interesting to reflect and critically think about. In searching for what experiences are had in prisons I became interested in the process of inspection, and the differences that we see with prison inspection alongside other inspectorates. I believe that the inspectorate of prisons provides an essential service in offering a form of public accountability to the experiences inside prisons, but this is a service that has often been limited in discussion and I am eager to support this process by thinking critically about their practice and how their inspections can be used within wider discourses around imprisonment, mostly within penal policy. 

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

Once I have completed my PhD I plan to continue working in higher education. I enjoy lecturing in sociology and criminology, and wish to establish this as my lifelong career, so that I can be involved in developing student’s abilities as to allow them to achieve to a high standard. Whilst at the same time being involved in the development and future of sociology as a key discipline in academia. I am also really enthusiastic to work in collaboration in a number of projects around imprisonment and prison inspection. 

Research interests

This research explores the discourses seen within both prison inspection and penal policy, with a specific focus on discourses around violence, self-harm and suicide. The aim of this study is to critically compare discursive positions and consider how similarities and differences are presented by the prison inspectorate and penal policymakers.  


  • BA (Hons) Sociology - University of Hull
  • MA (By Research) Sociology - University of Leeds
  • PGCE - University of Hull
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy