Dr Sam Cole

Dr Sam Cole

Birmingham Law School
Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Sam joined Birmingham Law School in 2021, having previously worked at RAND Europe. He researches in the areas of criminology and criminal justice, with particular interest in socio-spatial criminology.


  • PhD Criminology, University of Cambridge (Submitted)
  • MPhil Criminology, University of Cambridge
  • LLB Law, University of Birmingham


Sam joined Birmingham Law School in 2021 as a Lecturer in Criminal Justice. He holds an LLB degree from the University of Birmingham, and an MPhil in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, where he was awarded the Manuel Lopez-Rey Graduate Prize for best academic performance on the degree programme. His empirical PhD research, also undertaken at Cambridge, focused on how neighbourhood residents intervene to prevent breaches of social norms or perceived rules in urban environments.

Prior to joining Birmingham Law School, Sam taught at the University of Birmingham as a Visiting Lecturer in Criminology, and also at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Law undergraduate supervisor.

Outside of academia, Sam also has experience working in the arena of ‘translational criminology’, having advised policy makers through his work for the Office of Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the House of Lords Library, and for clients at RAND Europe.

Sam is dyslexic, so understands the challenges and opportunities this learning difficulty brings.


  • Criminal Law (Co-module lead)
  • LSAM (Co-module lead)
  • Criminal Law Reform Now
  • Legal Solutions

Postgraduate supervision

Find out more - our PhD Law  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Sam’s current criminological research interests centre around the domain of socio-spatial criminology, with a specific focus on what engenders communities to enforce common rules and norms within their residential environments. His published research has sought to appraise how neighbourhood design and use can shape opportunities for crime.

Sam also has experience conducting criminological research in applied settings. During his time at RAND Europe, he conducted a number of evaluations of criminal justice agencies and specific interventions to rehabilitate offenders.


Recent publications


Callendar, M, Cahalin, K, Cole, SJ, Hubbard, L & Britton, I 2020, 'Understanding the motivations, morale and retention of Special Constables: Findings from a National Survey', Policing: A journal of Policy and Practice, vol. 14, no. 3.

Cole, SJ 2019, 'Social and Physical Neighbourhood Effects and Crime: Bringing Domains Together Through Collective Efficacy Theory', Social Sciences, vol. 8, no. 5.

Commissioned report

Janta, B, Bruckmayer, M, de Silva, A, Gilder, L, Culora, A, Cole, SJ, Leenders, E, Schurman, M & Hagger-Vaughn, A 2021, Study on Child Participation in EU Political and Democratic Life: Final Report. European Commission. https://doi.org/10.2838/388737

Hulme, S, Blondes, EL, Disley, E, Theodoli, N, Marcolin, L, Cole, SJ, Taylor, J & Gilder, L 2021, Study to support an evaluation of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL): Final report. European Commission. https://doi.org/10.2837/540159

Other report

Cole, SJ 2018, Probation Services and Proposed Future Changes. House of Lords.

View all publications in research portal


Sam has policy experience in conducting evaluation research and devising recommendations for clients such as the European Commission, UK Home Office, and third-sector clients. He also has expertise in translating research findings into actionable recommendations.

Sam is a Fellow of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and a member of the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge.