Kirstin Anderson

Name: Dr Kirstin Anderson

Research Area: Music in Prisons, the Arts and Desistance, Education in Prisons

Department: Criminal Justice


Supervisors: Dr Katie Overy, Prof. Bill White & Neil Houston


Kirstin Anderson is now a Lecturer in Criminology at Napier University. She completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Her thesis Music Education and Experience in Scottish Prisons contributes to the developing research on the benefits of arts provision for people in custody and provides a baseline for further work on music education in Scottish prisons. Kirstin taught music at Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Scotland, designed a workbook on teaching music in prisons as part of a Knowledge Transfer grant from the University of Edinburgh and was the lead researcher on the national project Inspiring Change in 2010. In addition to her research on arts in prisons, Kirstin is interested in prison officer education especially for officers who work with women in custody. She has worked as a researcher with the Scottish Prison Service, the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, the Music in Human and Social Development Research Group and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.


Research Interests

  • Music in Prisons
  • The Arts and Desistance
  • Women in Prison
  • Young People in Custody



Anderson, K. (2016) Ex Nemo ad Aliquis: “From Nobody to Somebody” Theatre Nemo’s role in Scottish Prisons. [online]. Available at:

Anderson, K. (2015) Documenting arts practitioners’ practice in prisons: “What do you do in there?” The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54 (4) pp. 371-383. The Howard League and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Anderson, K. (2014) Music in Scottish prisons: a new direction? Scottish Justice Matters, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Anderson, K. & Sparks, R. (2014) Inspiring Change: evaluating arts and justice initiatives, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Tett, L., Anderson, K., McNeill, F., Overy, K., and Sparks, R. (2012) Learning, rehabilitation and the arts in prisons: a Scottish case study, Studies in the Education of Adults, 44 (2) pp. 171-185. National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

McNeill, F. Anderson, K., Colvin, S. Overy, K., Sparks, R. and Tett, L. (2011) ‘Kunstprojecten en What Works; een stimulans voor desistance?’ (Trans. ‘Inspiring Desistance? Arts projects and ‘what works?’) Justitiele verkenningen 37 (5): 80-101.

Anderson, K. McNeill, F., Overy, K. and Tett, L. (2011). Young Offenders and the Arts: A review of three Inspiring Change arts projects at HM YOI Polmont, Scotland, Prison Service Journal, No. 197, pp. 47-52. HM Prison Service of England and Wales.

Anderson, K., Colvin, S., McNeill, F., Nellis, M., Overy, K., Sparks, R. and Tett, L. (2011) Inspiring Change: Final Project Report of the Evaluation Team. [online] Available at:

Anderson, K. & Overy, K. (2010). Engaging Scottish Young Offenders in Education through Music and Art. International Journal of Community Music, 3 (2) pp. 47-64, Intellect Ltd.

Anderson, K. (2009) Teaching Music in Prisons: Introductory information and ideas for musicians and teachers working in prisons, University of Edinburgh.


Curriculum Development

Anderson, K. and Miller, E. (2015) Women in Custody

This four-month course is designed for prison staff at all levels who work with women in custody. The course draws together a large body of relevant research relating to the particular circumstances of women who are in custody (i.e. trauma, health, mental health, gender specific approaches) to ensure that staff built their learning and practice upon a sound evidence base. This course was designed and piloted in collaboration with an experienced SPS officer and included reflective practice methods for participant assessment. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in evaluating the course and a final report was completed.

Anderson, K. (2014) Understanding Desistance

This introductory course on desistance is the first designed specifically for prison staff. Leading criminologists Professors Fergus McNeill (University of Glasgow) and Shadd Maruna (Rutgers School of Criminal Justice) contributed to the course during the design stage and in providing interviews based on questions from staff. This course was co-delivered with an experienced officer and continues to be delivered to new recruits, experienced prison officers and prison managers.


Invited Lectures & Conference Presentations

Anderson, K. (2018) Social Justice in Civil Courts for whom? Women, domestic abuse and agency. Howard League for Penal Reform. ‘Redesigning Justice: Promoting civil rights, trust and fairness.’ 22 March 2018

Anderson, K. (2016) Prison Contexts and Music Education. International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 24th-29th July 2016

Anderson, K.; Cohen, M.; Edwards, J.; Henley, J.; Hickey, M.M. and Kerchner, J. (2016) Crossovers and intersections between music-making in Prison contexts and community music: International Perspectives. International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 24th-29th July 2016

Anderson, K. (2014) Building Bridges towards Community: Music Making in Criminal Justice. Centre of Educational Research in Music, Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, Norway, 26 November 2014.

Anderson, K. (2013) Inspiring Change, Inspiring Desistance. Partners in Crime Prevention: Learning Partnership Meeting. Grundtvig Learning Partnership. Belfast, Northern Ireland, 7 December 2013.

 Anderson, K. (2011) Bridging the gap between research and practice on music in prisons through knowledge exchange workshops. Leading Music Education International Conference. University of Western Ontario. London, Canada. 1 June 2011.

Anderson, K. (2009) Music in the Prison Classroom. 12th International EPEA Conference: Liberation through Education. European Prison Education Association. Lanarka, Cyprus. 29 October 2009.

Anderson, K. (2008) Using ICT in Prisons to Support Literacy: How Can Music Help? Learning Connections, Scottish Executive. Stirling, Scotland, 11 June 2008.


Funding Awarded

2011                 Postgraduate Research Expenses Grant, University of Edinburgh

2010-2011      Creative Scotland, Inspiring Change Project with Motherwell College

2009               Vacation Travel Scholarship, Music Department, University of  Edinburgh

2008               Postgraduate Research Expenses Grant, University of Edinburgh

2008                Small Project Grant, The University of Edinburgh Campaign

2008                Clutterbuck Vacation Travel Scholarship, University of Edinburgh



Youth Justice, Third Year Undergraduate, Lecturer, University of the West of Scotland, 2018

Musicianship 1, First Year Undergraduate, Guest Lecturer and Course Tutor, University of Edinburgh, 2016.

Music 1A: Psychology of Music, First Year Undergraduate, Guest Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, 2016.

Intercultural Musical Performance, Undergraduate, Guest Lecturer and Course Tutor, University of Edinburgh, 2016-2017.



Member of the International Society for Music Education (ISME)

Member of the Howard League for Penal Reform

Scottish Prison Arts Network (SPAN)

Associate Member of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR)