Supporting peer-based pathways to recovery and desistance

Project summary

The project will be based on an existing body of work by Director of Study - David Best, culminating in the Social Identity Model of Recovery (SIMOR, Best et al, 2016), which is based on the idea that people build the internal resources they need to sustain change, through building positive networks and active engagement, in meaningful activities in their local communities (Best, 2019). The project will build on existing work (as outlined below) and will fit within a body of externally funded research (including from the ESRC and NIHR) and within a dynamic research team developing new international research innovations and partnerships.

In the last year, Best has been a part of a national movement to develop the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations (CLERO) and this has resulted in the development of a national membership organisation that has influenced national drug policy by inclusion in the Dame Carol Black Review. This network of organisations is keen to partner with the University of Derby to develop an evidence base that will use methods developed by two existing PhD students at Derby – one collecting recovery data in the UK and the second collecting data in New Zealand. The student will use mixed methods data including the innovative Social Identity Mapping (Beckwith et al, 2019) to quantify change and will supplement this with Asset Based Community Engagement methods (Collinson and Best, 2019).

Entry requirements

Applicants will need either a first-class or upper second-class honours degree in relevant subjects including psychology, criminology, and sociology or have appropriate and equivalent lived experience.

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project-specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements

How to apply

Please contact Dr David Patton ( in the first instance.

The University has four starting points each year for MPhil/PhD programmes (September, January, March and June). Applications should be made at least three months before you would want to start your programme. Please note that if you require a visa additional time will be required.


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you.


David Patton through a camera lense whilst filming a MOOC for drug recovery
Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Dr David Patton is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and has been lecturing since 1998. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.