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School of Applied Social Sciences

Durham University Inside-Out Prison Exchange Programme


About the Programme

Criminology students at Durham University have an exciting opportunity, to take one of their modules as an Inside-Out course within prison. All third year criminology undergraduates and some Masters students have the option to complete a credit-bearing criminology module inside a nearby prison for one afternoon each week for ten weeks, designed and delivered as an Inside-Out course. Durham University operates a rolling programme of undergraduate and postgraduate Inside-Out courses, as well as one-off master classes, at HMP Frankland Category A men’s prison, HMP Durham Category B men’s prison and HMP Low Newton women’s prison.

Inside-Out is a model of teaching that originated in the United States whereby a group of ‘Outside’ (university) students go in to a local prison each week to be taught alongside and as equals with a group of ‘Inside’ (prison) students, completing the same readings and assessments. Together students explore issues of criminal justice with the aim of creating a transformative learning experience through critical thinking, collaborative problem solving and group work, whilst challenging the preconceptions that they and their peers may previously have held. All ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ students take the same Durham University-accredited 10 week module where they receive careful guidance from Durham University criminology staff who completed the Inside-Out training programme in the United States and are certified Inside-Out instructors. In line with its ethos of equality through education, all students – ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ students – who pass the Durham University Inside-Out module receive the same accreditation.

The US Inside-Out prison exchange programme was founded at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1997 and has since spread to over 37 US states, to Australia, Canada and Europe. More than 20,000 students have completed an Inside-Out course taught by over 500 certified instructors around the world. Durham University established the first Inside-Out programme outside of North America in 2014 and remains the only UK university offering this unique educational experience.

All second year criminology undergraduates at Durham University are offered the opportunity to apply for the optional Inside-Out ‘Issues in Criminal Justice’ module and if successful, they take this module either in Michaelmas or Epiphany term in their third year (we usually run three Inside-Out courses each academic year at three nearby prisons). Enrolment on the Durham University Inside-Out module is dependent on successfully completing the recruitment process which includes an individual interview with instructors, several days’ mandatory prison training and security clearance at a level appropriate to attendance at a Category A or Category B prison. The course is challenging, intensive and demanding, requiring students in classroom discussions and coursework to reflect critically on their own learning and on the dialogical pedagogy at the heart of Inside-Out. Maturity, flexibility to the requirements of the prison regime, willingness to work hard and a non judgemental attitude are all desirable attributes of potential applicants.

A note for international students:

Inside-Out is also open to international students. International students have previously successfully obtained security clearance and completed the Durham University Inside-Out module. However, security clearance requirements vary from country to country and therefore whilst applications are welcomed from all our 3rd year criminology undergraduates, all recruitment is dependent on obtaining the appropriate security clearance for the institution. This may necessitate obtaining a UK National Insurance number beforehand.

Related Information

Upon graduation, all students become members of the Inside-Out international alumni community and are invited to attend future events including conferences, workshops and training. A number of ‘Inside’ students who have since been released from prison are ambassadors to the programme and support a range of alumni activities. In partnership with HMP Frankland, Durham University Inside-Out team attend monthly ‘think tank’ meetings at HMP Frankland with the ‘Inside’ alumni still imprisoned in Frankland.

Read press coverage of the launch of the Durham University Inside-Out programme in October 2014

Find out more about the original US Inside-Out programme and watch two mini documentaries at:

For academic discussion of the Inside-Out prison exchange programme, read the special issue of the Prison Journal 2013 and the book ‘Turning Teaching Inside Out’ (2013) edited by Simone Weil Davis and Barbara Sherr Roswell published by Palgrave Macmillan.

For further details please contact Fiona Measham, Professor of Criminology and Director of the Durham University Inside-Out prison exchange programme.