School of Social and Political Science

Dr Steve Kirkwood

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in Social Work; Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

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Research interests

Research interests

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-Investigator with Dr Eve Mullins (PI) and Prof Peter Raynor on a research study applying conversation analysis to video recordings of probation sessions from the Jersey Supervision Skills Study, in order to better understand the interactional aspects of probation practice and how these may support people to desist from offending.

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

I undertook a Research Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust from January to August 2023 on a project entitled 'Forced Migration and Moral Repair', examining the potential for restorative justice in relation to people who have experienced forced migration. 

I was 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. 

I was a Co-Investigator on the project 'Mitigation and Risk in Restorative Justice', funded by the Scottish Government, led by Prof Joanna Shapland (The University of Sheffield). 

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. Please note that I do not have capacity to take on new research students at this moment. 

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


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.

Works within

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Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Mullins E, Kirkwood S, Raynor P. Positive reinforcement in probation practice: The practice and dilemmas of praise. Probation Journal. 2024 Apr 25;1-20. Epub 2024 Apr 25. doi: 10.1177/02645505241241587
Albtran A, Aksu P, Al-Fakir Z, Al-Hashimi H, Baillot H, Izzeddin A et al. Building an ethical research culture: Scholars of refugee background researching refugee-related issues. Journal of Refugee Studies. 2024 Mar 25;1-10. feae005. Epub 2024 Mar 25. doi: 10.1093/jrs/feae005
Kirkwood S. Restorative justice, refugees and criminal harm in places of asylum. The International Journal of Restorative Justice. 2024 Feb 6. Epub 2024 Feb 6. doi: 10.5553/TIJRJ.000198
Kirkwood S. [Review of] Howard Zehr, Restorative justice: Insights and stories from my journey. The International Journal of Restorative Justice. 2023 Dec 5;508-510. doi: 10.5553/TIJRJ.000178
Shapland J, Buchan J, Kirkwood S, Zinsstag E. Mitigating risk in restorative justice. The International Journal of Restorative Justice. 2023 Sept 25. Epub 2023 Sept 25. doi: 10.5553/TIJRJ.000176
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. Co-constructing desistance narratives in probation interaction. Probation Quarterly. 2023 Sept 12;29:20-27. doi: 10.54006/ITMQ2992
Kirkwood S, Mullins E, McCulloch T, Cree VE. Ideological dilemmas in social work: Justice social workers in Scotland talk about gender in practice. The British Journal of Social Work. 2023 Jul;53(5):2521–2538. bcac221. Epub 2022 Nov 26. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcac221
Kirkwood S. ‘A wee kick up the arse’: Mentoring, motivation and desistance from crime. Criminology & Criminal Justice. 2023 Apr 1;23(2):183-199. Epub 2021 Sept 8. doi: 10.1177/17488958211043691
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. Unpicking social work practice skills: Warmth and respect in practice. Qualitative Social Work. 2022 Nov 1;21(6):1063-1083. Epub 2022 Sept 8. doi: 10.1177/14733250221124214
Mullins E, Kirkwood S, Stokoe E. An introduction to conversation analysis in social work research. Qualitative Social Work. 2022 Nov;21(6):997-1010. Epub 2022 Oct 6. doi: 10.1177/14733250221132239
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. From desistance narratives to narratives of rehabilitation: Risk-talk in groupwork for addressing sexual offending. Criminology & Criminal Justice. 2022 Jul 14. Epub 2022 Jul 14. doi: 10.1177/17488958221108830
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. 2022 Jul 1;65(4):761-772. Epub 2020 Oct 6. doi: 10.1177/0020872820959371
Albtran A, Al-Dubaee S, Al-Hashimi H, Beja MN, Gilson NF, Izzeddin A et al. Research Involving People of a Refugee Background: Considerations for Ethical Engagement. University College Dublin, 2022.
Kirkwood S. A practice framework for restorative justice. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2022 Mar 16;101688. Epub 2021 Nov 11. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2021.101688
Jennings B, Kirkwood S, Cree VE. Purdah in the 21st century: Women’s experiences of work and space in Dhaka. Women's Studies International Forum. 2022 Feb 28;90:102560. Epub 2022 Jan 11. doi: 10.1016/j.wsif.2022.102560
Xie Y, Kirkwood S, Laurier E, Widdicombe S. Racism and Misrecognition. British Journal of Social Psychology. 2021 Oct 4;60(4):1177-1195. Epub 2021 Jul 15. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12480
Mullins E, Kirkwood S. Co-authoring desistance narratives: Analysing interactions in groupwork for addressing sexual offending. Criminology & Criminal Justice. 2021 Jul 1;21(3):316-333. Epub 2019 Jul 24. doi: 10.1177/1748895819863101
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. Epub 2020 Jul 17. doi: 10.1177/0264550520939153
Kirkwood S, Hamad R. Restorative justice informed criminal justice social work and probation services. Probation Journal. 2019 Dec 1;66(4):398-415. Epub 2019 Oct 10. doi: 10.1177/0264550519880595
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. Epub 2019 Nov 21. doi: 10.1080/02650533.2019.1594735
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. Epub 2019 Apr 22. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2595
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. Epub 2018 Aug 31. doi: 10.1111/pops.12511
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. Epub 2017 Apr 14. doi: 10.1177/1473325017699266
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. Epub 2018 Jun 15. doi: 10.1177/1360780418781615
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). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-99094-1
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. Epub 2017 Jan 10. doi: 10.1002/casp.2298
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. doi: 10.11157/anzswj-vol29iss3id425.
Verhallen T, Hall C, Slembrouck S, Kirkwood S. Managing arguments in social work encounters. International Journal of Child and Family Welfare. 2016 Sept 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. Epub 2015 Sept 28. doi: 10.1177/1362480615607624
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. doi: 10.1080/13691457.2015.1126558
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 & Criminal Justice. 2015. Epub 2015 Mar 16. doi: 10.1177/1748895815575618
Kirkwood S, Goodman S, McVittie C, McKinlay A. The Language of Asylum: Refugees and Discourse. 1 ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 216 p. doi: 10.1007/978-1-137-46116-2
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 Sept;24(5):376–389. Epub 2013 Dec 3. doi: 10.1002/casp.2178
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 doi: 10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970241
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. Epub 2014 Mar 21. doi: 10.1093/jrs/feu003
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. Epub 2013 Jan 31. doi: 10.1002/casp.2141
Kirkwood S, McKinlay A, McVittie C. ‘They're more than animals’: Refugees' accounts of racially motivated violence. British Journal of Social Psychology. 2012. Epub 2012 Oct 22. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12007
Kirkwood S. Negotiating the dilemmas of claiming asylum: A discursive analysis of interviews with refugees on life in Scotland. eSharp. 2012;87-112.
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. 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. doi: 10.1177/1477370809343036
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.
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.
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.
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 (Diversion) Services Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2006/07. SACRO, 2007. 12 p.
Nicol WJ, Kirkwood S, MacFarlane L. Youth Justice Services Evaluation report: April 2004 – March 2005. SACRO, 2006. 32 p.
Kearney N, Kirkwood S, MacFarlane L. Restorative justice in Scotland: An overview. The British Journal of Community Justice (BJCJ). 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 .
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. Epub 2005 Oct 27. doi: 10.1002/casp.837