Lewis Simpson



My interests are in thinking sociologically, around a number of topics that highlight morality within social environments. I am particularly interested in the combination of sociology, social policy, and criminology an approach that is taken throughout my Ph.D. research.  

I was born, and live, in Grimsby, a small coastal town in the North 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 with Mark Davis and Tom Campbell as my supervisors. Since completing my Masters I have been 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. 

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 Ph.D., 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 have no personal connection to prisons and have no idea why I feel so interested in the subject. I was influenced when reading Goffman to look into total institutions and for me, the prison would always be the most interesting to study. The fascinating element of prisons comes with the moral responsibility of those who work with these environments, and also the moral change that occurs surrounding the politics of prison. Over the last 30 years, prisons in the UK have seen change. Policy surrounding prisons and activities within prisons are often discussed by focusing on the outcome of these policies; has it worked? However, I am interested in how and why policy around prisons has been created the way that it has. Therefore my policy analysis begins to capture not only political motivation for penal change but also wider social and economic trends that impact the penal policy-making process. 

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. 

Research interests

My current study sets out to establish a theoretical framework for understanding the generation of UK policy surrounding punishment, in particular, the 2010 UK Coalition Government’s ‘Rehabilitation Revolution (MoJ, 2010a: 1). This particular policy initiative projected radical changes to how punishment was to be practiced in England and Wales and built its proposals around the critique of New Labour’s (1997-2010) strategies of crime and punishment, questioning if the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, really did offer strategies that were “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime” (Blair, 1993: 27). The Coalition Government did not see New Labour’s approach to punishment as effective, therefore they planned the “Rehabilitation Revolution” in attempt to keep communities safe and to reduce reoffending (MoJ, 2010a; Skinns, 2016). This study focuses on this policy initiative over others is not due to its ‘success’ but due to the lack of analysis that has already been completed, with past authors focusing on the outcome of this initiative (Skinns, 2016; Harrison, 2010; Squires, 2016; Ledger, 2010; Byrne and Taxman, 2015) and limited sociological analysis offered regarding the emergence of it. The framework used for analysis will aim to offer an approach to explain why and on what grounds penal policy has been designed in the way that it has. Discussions around the design of penal policy require a synthesis of sociological and criminological theory to analyze the unique configurations of penal order during the period 2010-2015. 


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