Dr Kirstine Szifris

Research Associate
Dr Kirstine Szifris


Kirstine joined PERU in January 2016 as a Research Associate.  She has been working on a range of projects focussed primarily in and around prison education.  In particular, she has worked with colleagues on a Rapid Evidence Assessment (looking at the relationship between prison education and recidivism and employment outcomes) and developed a programme of research in conjunction with Novus.  This will include a Realist Review that aims to look at the theory underpinning prison education and conducting a feasibility study investigating the use of an RCT methodology in assessing methods of delivering functional skills in prison.  She has also been supporting colleagues on work around probation with Interserve and around Intensive Community Orders.  Her work also includes knowledge mobilisation which involves the launch of new blog available through the Novus website. 


Kirstine came to the department from the Prison Research Centre, Cambridge University and is in the process of completing her PhD.  Her research is entitled ‘Philosophy in Prison: An exploration of personal development’ and takes an exploratory approach to data collection.  The research involved delivering two 12-week philosophy courses in HMP Grendon and HMP Full Sutton. Her time in the prisons allowed for an in-depth exploration of the role and relevance of a philosophy course in prisons.  Based on the principles of Socratic Dialogue, Kirstine’s course engaged prisoners in philosophical conversation on a range of topics including identity, morality, the good life, and society among others.  Her findings draw on prison sociological literature, desistance theory, and research into prison education more broadly and indicate that such a class is relevant to the development of trust, well-being, forging relationships, and in forging a new identity and developing as a person. 


Prisons, prison education, prison sociology, qualitative, quantiative and mixed methods research.

Research Interests

Kirstine’s interests are in and around prisons.  She is particularly interested in the role of education in the lives of long-term prisoners, it’s relevance to growing trust and relationships within the prisoner population, and its impact on wellbeing.  Further to this, Kirstine is interested in developing theory and empirical evidence around the role education in desistance from crime.  Kirstine is also extending her methodological interests and is in the process of developing projects that take a more quantitative approach. .  


Research Activity


  • Szifris, K. (2015). Philosophy in prison: Taking a different perspective, Well-being Beyond GDP: The value of humanities, the arts and social science in forming and informing responses to contemporary social change, Manchester Metropolitan University Festival of Knowledge.
  • Szifris, K. (2016). Philosophy in Prison: Dialogue and community as a means of developing empathy and well-being in the prison classroom, British Society of Criminology Conference, Nottingham.
  • Szifris, K (2016). ‘Philosophy in prison: Opening minds and broadening perspectives through philosophical dialogue’ in Prison Service Journal, 225, pp. 33-38.
  • Szifris, K. (under review). ‘Socrates and Aristotle: The Role of Ancient philosophers in the self-understanding of desisting prisoners’, submitted to The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice.
  • Ellison, M., Szifris, K., Horan, R., Fox, C. (under review). ‘A Rapid Evidence Assessment of the effectiveness of prison education in reducing recidivism and increasing employment’, submitted to The Probation Journal.

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