Dr Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, PhD

  • Senior Lecturer in Applied Psychology
  • Department of Health, Psychology and Social Studies
  • Health and Wellbeing
Dr Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, PhD


For many years I have maintained an interest in the treatment, management and education of offenders. Since working as a Treatment Manager of offending behaviour programmes in HM Prison Service, I have been involved in free-lance research projects into criminogenic needs in custodial settings.

Through my involvement with the British Dyslexia Association, and through independent work as a training provider, I have trained prison staff in educational methods and approaches. I have also been registered as a consultant with the National Institute for Continued Adult Education (NIACE), and was an active volunteer with the Shannon Trust since it's inception as an organisation to promote literacy in prisons.

Ongoing research projects include the development and evaluation of applied psychology awareness for practitioners in the Criminal Justice System. This research is linked to ideas of professional identity and communities of practice.

I am currently engaged in research into smoking cessation in prisons and the challenges and opportunities that are presented by this. Other projects include the evaluation of domestic violence programmes in prison, and evaluation of employment opportunities in prison.

As part of my doctoral research programme I have conducted research into the transformative power of education of offenders, with particular reference to how communities of practice within custodial settings facilitate learning and rehabilitation.

Qualifications and memberships

Lancaster University - PhD, Educational Research University of Leeds - MA History Open University - BSc(Hons) Psychology University of Bradford - BA (Hons) Combined University of Central Lancashire - Cert. Ed.

Academic and research interests

Forensic Psychology

Developmental Psychology

Communities of Practice

Education and rehabilitation of offenders

Communities of practice and encultured knowledge

Professional identities

Child and family studies.


Online publications

Karamalidou, A. and Spurgeon-Dickson, A. (eds) (forthcoming e-book 2015) The Prison at the Crossroads. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press.

'Doing Time in a Prison Education Department: Prisoners Perspectives'. inter-disciplinary.net

'Breaking the Cycle' Paper submitted to The Magistracy in the 21st Century: A seminar series with Keele University and The magistrates' Association, available online .


Abstract accepted for 7th Global Conference: Experiencing Prison. Budapest, Hungary (March 2016).

Paper presented at 5th Global Conference: Experiencing Prison. Lisbon, Portugal (May 2014).

Paper presented at 4th Global Conference: Experiencing Prison. Prague, Czech Republic (May 2013).

'Strengthening the Magistracy through Educational Innovation', presented to the Magistrates' Association, Fitzroy Square, London (October 2012).

Spurgeon-Dickson, A (2012) 'Seeing beyond the bars: looking at prisoners' perceptions of identity change through an activity theory perspective'.

Paper presented at a conference at The University of Warwick, Marginal cartographies: Researching Beyond Borders (28 April 2012).

Recent external roles

Appointed to the Magistrates' Association Training and development Committee in 2013, and currently working on projects to develop judicial training and assessment.