Meet the Postgrad Committee – Nick Gibbs

Hi everyone, my name is Nick and I am a final year PhD student at Northumbria University alongside being the BSC Post-grad Liaison Officer (aka the guy who emails people). I started my doctoral studies back in October 2018 and (fingers crossed) will be submitting my thesis in August 2021. Within my PhD I examine the use and supply of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs), leaning upon the ultra-realist framework and the school of deviant leisure to go beyond the current scholarly understandings of why we have seen such an increase in use over the last decade.

My supervisor is Dr Alex Hall and I have had a fairly atypical PhD journey so far, given that I chose to study from distance (just a mere 190 miles from campus) and base my research in my local community. As such, whilst many PGRs have had to adapt to a life of working from home, delivering seminars to blank screens, and only speaking to colleagues through MS Teams, I was remote working before it was popular! I count myself lucky however that I completed the bulk of my offline fieldwork before the first national lockdown with about a week to spare.

My journey into post-graduate study was fairly standard. I started my Criminology degree at Birmingham City University (BCU) back in 2013 with the express intention that I would join the police at the end of the programme. As my undergraduate degree continued I was more drawn to the probation service until, sometime towards the start of third year some of my lecturers made me aware of the (extremely long) path to becoming an academic and teaching and researching for a living. This idea was cemented following my involvement in BCU’s annual HMP Grendon debate as a lead debater, which brought home my passion for Criminology and academia more generally. After working in America for a summer, I started my MA at BCU in 2017 and went on to graduate with a distinction, having written a dissertation on gym culture and masculinity. I subsequently got accepted onto the Charityworks graduate scheme and worked in social housing as a Housing Officer for a year, before getting the opportunity to complete a funded PhD at Northumbria.

My PhD journey has been a largely enjoyable one, particularly the year I spent in gyms interviewing bodybuilders, powerlifters and other IPED users. I feel immensely lucky to have been given the opportunity and freedom to research an area that I am fascinated by under the supervision of an absolute ultra-realist dream team. But even writing up has been a fantastic experience – when else do you get the opportunity to essentially write a book about a topic you’re an expert on with no other professional obligations and a supervisory team that can guide you and help you achieve your absolute best?

My advice for anyone looking to pursue post-graduate study in Criminology is, unsurprisingly, to go for it! Find your niche, put in the hard graft and keep plugging away because the right opportunity will come up sooner or later. Our discipline is still young and therefore fresh ideas and new brains can really make an impact. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next person to ‘revitalize’ Criminology!

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