Michelle - What our students say - University of Derby


Michelle Cunliffe - BSc (Hons) Applied Criminology

“I’ve absolutely loved my time at Derby. The course gave me a lot of skills that can be transferred to the workplace.”
Michelle Cunliffe

“I’ve absolutely loved my time at Derby. The course gave me a lot of skills that can be transferred to the workplace.”

That was the verdict of Michelle Cunliffe, who graduated from the BSc (Hons) Applied Criminology with first class honours and a ‘student of the year’ prize. 

She reserves special praise for the teaching team who inspired and guided her. “I found the lecturers to be very supportive, encouraging and passionate about what they do,” she says. “Overall, if you are willing to put in the work, the lecturers will be more than happy to help and advise you.”

Among highlights for Michelle was the chance to undertake a group research project based on young offenders and electronic tagging, which helped to improve her negotiation, team-building and research skills.

She particularly enjoyed her final year and the chance to focus on the Gendered Violence theme as it gave her the freedom to concentrate on areas that were important to her.

Her dissertation focused on the highly topical and controversial subject of adolescent females ‘sexting’ – which involves taking and sending nude or partially nude pictures of themselves. She explored how young girls and women negotiate their sexuality and how the media, education and society as a whole have an impact on the decisions females make in terms of sexual behaviour. She also considered how the law could be applied to criminalise girls who ‘sext’.

She explains: “This is a subject area I am very passionate about and it was undoubtedly my favourite piece of work. At times I found the dissertation very stressful, but the support of my supervisor kept me going and I received a mark of 95%. I am now planning to have the work published and it is an area I will continue to research.”

Her commitment paid off. In 2014, Michelle won the Mick Miller Memorial Award as the Outstanding BSc (Hons) Applied Criminology Student of the Year. She says: “It was such a massive shock when I opened the letter – I was not expecting it at all. It boosted my confidence and it was a nice feeling to know that others recognised the hard work I had put in over the three years.”

Michelle is now following in the footsteps of the teaching team who inspired her – by going into an educational career herself.  She moved on to take the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme at the University and has been offered a permanent job teaching Criminal Justice at Central College Nottingham where she undertook one of her placements.

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An international perspective

We are committed to studying in the field. One group of students recently visited criminal justice agencies in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with highlights including visits to San Quentin State Prison and gang projects in LA, a day spent with San Francisco Police Department and the chance to meet students from California State University.