Hate crime in Scotland

Researching Victims and Offenders

Project reference number: GSBS-S2018-019-Roberston

The Scottish Government defines hate crime as any crime committed against a person or property that is motivated by ‘malice or ill-will towards an identifiable group’. Scots Law recognises hate crimes as motivated by prejudice based on such factors as sexual orientation, transgender identity, disability, racial or religious factors. This legal approach is unique in that it is based on the motivation of the offender and not the experience of victimisation per se. Evidence suggests people may not recognise themselves as victims of hate crime contributing to low rates of reporting to the police. ‘Third party’ reporting schemes have been developed that allow witnesses to report hate crime in place of the victim, adding another unique dimension to this crime.

Sectarianism has been the primary focus of hate crime debates in Scotland to the detriment of other types. Nonetheless, the Scottish Government has identified tackling all forms of hate crime as a priority in its ‘Strategy for Justice’. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, reported hate crime based on racial/religious factors spiked, with 64 incidents reported to Police Scotland in just one week, compared to a total of 569 incidents of religiously aggravated offending in Scotland for the whole of the previous year (Police Scotland, November 2015). At the same time the first group of asylum seekers arrived in Scotland from Syria, to a mixed reception, which challenged Scotland’s ‘welcoming’ façade.

To address the lack of research focused on hate crime in Scotland, this studentship will draw on criminological and sociological theoretical frameworks, and novel empirical investigation, in order to understand both the individual and collective experiences of victims and the motivation of offenders.

As there is a multitude of potential areas of investigation, the exact focus will be determined in relation to the expertise and interests of the successful candidate.

Application deadline

The application deadline for October 2018 start is 1st of July 2018.

Research supervisors

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following researchers for further details:

Mode of study

This project is available as a:

  • PhD: 3 years full-time 
  • 1 + 3 route to PhD: Undertaking MRes 1 year full-time + PhD as above


Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.

Specific requirements of the project

The successful applicant will hold a minimum of a UK Honours first degree (2.1 or above) in social sciences and have a good understanding of qualitative research, an appreciation of challenges faced by people with stroke, and excellent communication skills (including experience with communicating with people who have communication difficulties, or demonstrate willingness to acquire such skills).