Teaching criminology in university rarely brings students into contact with the very people who are the subjects of study – prisoners. Academic staff in criminology based at Surrey will do just that in a new initiative which will begin in 2019. Working with Her Majesty’s Prison in Send, staff will teach a module entitled ‘Opening criminology’, designed to give students a critical introduction to the discipline of criminology, to a classroom of 20 students (10 from Surrey University and 10 from HMP Send).

The idea follows pioneering work in working with prisoners such as the Inside-Out initiative started in the USA, and the Learning Together programme established at Cambridge University. The approach draws together university students and current serving prisoners together in a shared learning environment, where knowledge and experience can be positively exchanged.

The chief goal of the initiative is to establish an environment where all participants are treated as equals and given voice to express views, to study, read and learn from one another. Working as part of the Learning Together national network, the programme is the first of its kind to be run at the University of Surrey. The programme co-ordinators at Surrey, Daniel McCarthy and Maria Adams who both lecture in criminology, were responsible for the design and implementation of the course .

Updates on the initial evaluation of the programme will be reported in the summer of 2019.