School of Social and Political Science

Dr Steve Kirkwood

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in Social Work; School Director of Postgraduate Research Programmes; Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Steve Kirkwood's photo

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Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



I am originally from Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand, where I completed an honours degree in English Literature and Psychology and an MSc in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. My MSc focused on the topic of identity and indigenous rights. I then moved to Edinburgh where I worked as a Research Officer for the Community Justice charity, Sacro, from 2005-2009, undertaking research on a range of interventions and policy topics including Restorative Justice, supported accommodation services for ex-offenders, bail supervision, alcohol education interventions, support for street sex workers and mediation services. In 2009 I began a PhD in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh on the integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland. In 2012 I completed my PhD and began working as a lecturer in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh.

Research interests

Research interests

Criminal Justice, Restorative Justice, Asylum, Discourse Analysis, Identity, Refugees

I undertake research on identity, justice and citizenship in relation to people who have been responsible for or harmed by crime or injustice. Most of my research involves discursive social psychological methods or evaluation research methods. My research is intended to enhance our understanding of issues of identity and citizenship in relation to justice and injustice, and explore the ethics and effectiveness of responses to crime, with the purpose of improving society's response to those who have caused or been harmed by crime or injustice. My four main areas of research interest are: 1) criminal justice social work; 2) restorative justice; 3) refugee integration; 4) hate crime. 

I am a Co-Principal Investigator (with Dr Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, University College Dublin) on 'A comparative case-study of refugee integration in Scotland and Ireland', part of the Scottish Irish Migration Initiative, funded by the Strategic Partnership Fund between University College Dublin and the University of Edinburgh. This project will develop an in-depth understanding of how asylum seeking and refugee families integrate into local communities.

I am the Principal Investigator on a research study on the history of restorative justice in Scotland.

I was a Co-Investigator on the project 'Criminal Justice Social Work: Exploring Gender Issues', with Prof Viv Cree and Dr Trish McCulloch, funded by Social Work Scotland. We used archival research, surveys and focus groups to examine the role of gender in the development and current operation of Criminal Justice Social Work in Scotland.

I was co-lead on the knowledge exchange programme 'Developing Restorative Justice in Scotland: Learning from local and international experience', funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, which ran throughout 2017.

I analysed UK parliamentary debates on the European refugee 'crisis', focusing on the humanisation of refugees, integration and references to history.

I worked with colleagues at Ipsos MORI, the University of Stirling and the University of Glasgow to undertake an evaluation of the Scottish Government's Reducing Reoffending Change Fund.

I worked with Prof Viv Cree and the social media analysis company SoDash, exploring the potential for using Artificial Intelligence to assist with social science research on feminism and Twitter.

I was Co-Investigator on the Camphill Social Pedagogy Pilot Evaluation, with Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh and Sheila Cooper.

I have conducted a study that applies discourse analysis to video recordings of criminal justice social work groupwork sessions with people on community sentences.

Click here to view my Google Scholar page.

Click here to view my entry in Edinburgh Research Explorer, which includes links to open access versions of my publications.

You can follow me on Twitter: @KirkwoodSteve

Topics interested in supervising

I am happy to consider supervising PhD candidates on any topics broadly related to my research interests described above. In particular, I am interested in projects that relate to criminal justice, desistance from crime, asylum seeking, discrimination, discourse analysis and / or the study of interaction.

If you are interested in being supervised by Steve Kirkwood, please see the links below (opening in new windows) for more information:

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

Please email me to arrange.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Kirkwood S. A practice framework for restorative justice. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2021 Nov 11. 101688.
Xie Y, Kirkwood S, Laurier E, Widdicombe S. Racism and Misrecognition. British Journal of Social Psychology. 2021 Oct 4;60(4):1177-1195.
Kirkwood S. ‘A wee kick up the arse’: Mentoring, motivation and desistance from crime. Criminology and Criminal Justice. 2021 Sep 8.
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. Co-authoring desistance narratives: Analysing interactions in groupwork for addressing sexual offending. Criminology and Criminal Justice. 2021 Jul 1;21(3):316-333.
Kirkwood S, Devaney J, Ross B. Writing an essay. In Ross B, editor, Writing Skills for Social Work Students. Red Globe Press. 2021. (Macmillan Study Skills).
McCulloch T, Cree VE, Kirkwood S, Mullins E. ‘Within my work environment I don’t see gender as an issue’: Reflections on gender from a study of criminal justice social workers in Scotland. Probation Journal. 2021 Mar 1;68(1):8-27.
Jennings B, Cree VE, Kirkwood S. Agency and exploitation: Two sides of one coin? Women’s experiences of selling sex and engaging with NGOs in Dhaka. International Social Work. 2020 Oct 6.
Kirkwood S, Hamad R. Restorative justice informed criminal justice social work and probation services. Probation Journal. 2019 Dec 1;66(4):398-415.
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. Dams, barriers and beating yourself up: Shame in groupwork for addressing sexual offending. Journal of Social Work Practice. 2019 Dec;33(4):369-384.
Goodman S, Kirkwood S. Political and media discourses about integrating refugees in the UK. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2019 Dec;49(7):1456-1470.
Kirkwood S. History in the service of politics: Constructing narratives of history during the European refugee “crisis”. Political Psychology. 2019 Apr;40(2):297-313.
Kirkwood S, Roesch-Marsh A, Cooper S. Evaluating social pedagogy in the UK: Methodological issues. Qualitative Social Work. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):8-23.
Cree VE, Kirkwood S, McCulloch T, Mullins E. Criminal justice social work: Exploring gender issues: Reflections on the 1968 Act. Edinburgh: Social Work Scotland, 2018. 19 p.
Kirkwood S, Cree VE, Winterstein D, Nuttgens A, Sneddon J. Encountering #Feminism on Twitter: Reflections on a research collaboration between social scientists and computer scientists. Sociological Research Online. 2018 Dec 1;23(4):763-779.
Kirkwood S, Goodman S. Discursive psychological research on refugees. In Gibson S, editor, Discourse, Peace, and Conflict: Discursive Psychology Perspectives. 1 ed. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 2018. p. 169-185. (Peace Psychology Book Series).
Kirkwood S. Restorative justice. Glasgow: Iriss, 2018. 18 p. (Insight; 44).
Kirkwood S. Criminal justice social work. In Cree V, Smith M, editors, Social work in a changing Scotland. Routledge. 2018. 14
Kirkwood S, Jennings B, Laurier E, Cree VE, Whyte W. Towards an interactional approach to reflective practice in social work. In Lorenz W, Shaw I, editors, Private Troubles or Public Issues?: Challenges for Social Work Research. Routledge. 2017. 11
Kirkwood S, Munro M. Warm words and no action: The fate of restorative justice in Scotland. Scottish Justice Matters. 2017 Apr 13;5(1):2-3.
Kirkwood S. The humanisation of refugees: A discourse analysis of UK parliamentary debates on the European refugee ‘crisis’. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 2017 Mar 13;27(2):115-125.
Kirkwood S. Community justice in Australia: Developing knowledge, skills and values for working with offenders in the community [Book review]. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work. 2017;29(3):135-136.
Verhallen T, Hall C, Slembrouck S, Kirkwood S. Managing arguments in social work encounters. International Journal of Child and Family Welfare. 2016 Sep 9;17(1/2):85-104.
Kirkwood S. Desistance in action: An interactional approach to criminal justice practice and desistance from offending. Theoretical Criminology. 2016 May 1;20(2):220-237.
Kirkwood S, Whyte W. Evaluation of the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Social Research, 2016. 173 p.
Kirkwood S, Laurier E, Cree V, Whyte W, Jennings B. Towards an interactional approach to reflective practice in social work. European Journal of Social Work. 2016 Jan 27.
Kirkwood S. Developing restorative justice jurisprudence: Rethinking responses to criminal wrongdoing [Book review]. Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books. 2016 Jan;2016(Jan).
Kirkwood S. The presence of the absent parent: Troubled families and the England ‘riots’ of 2011. In Cree VE, Clapton G, Smith M, editors, Revisiting moral panics. Bristol: Policy Press. 2015. p. 169-178
Kirkwood S. The presence of the absent parent: Troubled families and the England ‘riots’ of 2011. In Cree VE, editor, The state. Bristol: Policy Press. 2015. p. 43-54
Roesch-Marsh A, Cooper S, Kirkwood S. Social pedagogy pilot project evaluation. 1 ed. Edinburgh: Department of Social Work, University of Edinburgh, 2015. 57 p.
Kirkwood S, McNeill F. Integration and Reintegration: Comparing pathways to citizenship through asylum and criminal justice. Criminology and Criminal Justice. 2015.
Kirkwood S, Goodman S, McVittie C, McKinlay A. The Language of Asylum: Refugees and Discourse. 1 ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 216 p.
Kirkwood S, McKinlay A, McVittie C. ‘Some people it’s very difficult to trust’: Attributions of agency and accountability in practitioners’ talk about integration. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 2014 Sep;24(5):376–389.
Llewellyn C, Ruus L, Burnett R, Kirkwood S, Smith M, Von-Jungenfeld R. Building a dataset of sensitive information. In 2014 IEEE/ACM Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, JCDL 2014. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. 2014. p. 494-495. 6970241
Kirkwood S, McKinlay A, Mcvittie C. ‘He's a Cracking Wee Geezer from Pakistan’: Lay Accounts of Refugee Integration Failure and Success in Scotland. Journal of Refugee Studies. 2014.
Kirkwood S, Laurier E. Criminal Justice Social Work Practice and the Study of Interaction. 2014. 5 p.
Kirkwood S, McKinlay A, Mcvittie C. The Mutually Constitutive Relationship between Place and Identity: The Role of Place-Identity in Discourse on Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 2013 Jan 31.
Kirkwood S, McKinlay A, McVittie C. ‘They're more than animals’: Refugees' accounts of racially motivated violence. British Journal of Social Psychology. 2012.
Kirkwood S. Negotiating the dilemmas of claiming asylum: A discursive analysis of interviews with refugees on life in Scotland. eSharp. 2012;87-112.
Kirkwood S. Restorative Justice Cases in Scotland: Factors Related to Participation, the Restorative Process, Agreement Rates and Forms of Reparation. European Journal of Criminology. 2010;7(2):107–122.
Sambaraju R, Kirkwood S. ‘We represent, here, the interests of the free world’: Accountability in Israeli leaders’ media talk on the Gaza Crisis (2008-2009). eSharp. 2010;15:133 - 156.
Kirkwood S, Richley T. Circles of support and accountability: The case for their use in Scotland to assist in the community reintegration and risk management of sexual offenders. SCOLAG Legal Journal. 2008 Oct 1;2008(October):236-239.
Kirkwood S, Richley T. Supported accommodation services for offenders. SCOLAG Legal Journal. 2008 Jun 1;2008(June):141-142.
Kirkwood S, Dickie D. The case for bail supervision. Scottish Criminal Law. 2008 Feb 1;2008(February):264-267.
Kirkwood S, Richley T. Supported Accommodation Services for Offenders: A Research Literature Review. CJSWDC Briefing Papers. 2008;11.
Kirkwood S. Evidencing the Impact of Criminal Justice Services on Re-offending. CJScotland, 2008. 14 p.
Richley T, Kirkwood S. The case for circles of support and accountability in Scotland. The Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies. 2008;14:26-30.
Kearney N, Kirkwood S, MacFarlane L. Restorative Justice (Diversion) Services Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2006/07. SACRO, 2007. 12 p.
Brookes D, Kirkwood S. Will the Victim Statement scheme secure greater participation for victims in the criminal justice process? CJScotland, 2007. 6 p.
Kearney N, Kirkwood S, MacFarlane L. Restorative justice in Scotland: An overview. British Journal of Community Justice. 2006;4(3):55-65.
Sibley CG, Liu JH, Kirkwood S. Towards a social representational theory of attitude change: The effect of message framing on general and specific attitudes toward affirmative action. New Zealand Journal of Psychology. 2006;35:3-13 .
Nicol WJ, Kirkwood S, MacFarlane L. Youth Justice Services Evaluation report: April 2004 – March 2005. SACRO, 2006. 32 p.
Sibley CG, Robertson A, Kirkwood S. Pakeha attitudes toward the symbolic and resource-specific aspects of bicultural policy in New Zealand: The legitimizing role of collective guilt for historical injustices. New Zealand Journal of Psychology. 2005 Nov 1;34(3):171-180.
Kirkwood S, Liu JH, Weatherall A. Challenging the Standard Story of Indigenous Rights in Aotearoa / New Zealand. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 2005 Nov;15(6):493-505.